<i>Linguistics for Lazy People</i>—Psammeticus Press SpecGram Vol CLIV, No 1 Contents

Transform Puzzles II
Now With Enhanced Sound!

Jonathan van der Meer
l’École de SpecGram, London

Continuing with the theme of Quasi-Linguistic Pseudo-Anglic Puzzleness
Transform Puzzles I:
“Vaguely Linguistic Transforms”

Hall of Fame


Trey Jones
Washington, DC

Scott Horne
Montréal, Québec

Kristin Kopf
Mainz, Germany

Sara Kessler
Rechovot, Israel

Honorable Mention!

Richard Benham
Geneva, Switzerland

Christina Castedo
Hanover, New Hampshire

Weltfried König
Stuttgart, Germany

Siva Kalyan
Princeton, New Jersey

Use vs. “Mention”

David J. Peterson
Garden Grove, California
the SpecGram Puzzle Elves™ have concocted another batch of Transform Puzzlesnow with Enhanced Sound!

The basic goal of Transform Puzzles is to transform one English word into another, one letter at a time, where each intermediate form is also an English word. For example, dogcogcotcat. As a simple improvement, we offered word pairs of different lengths, and added deletions and additions to the repertoire of acceptable transformations. That improvement was apparently too simple, since several crafty folks found ways to exploit it. Adding and deleting letters, even in word pairs of the same length, opens up many more opportunities. This time we are restricting the class of acceptable transformations to allow additions or deletions, but not both.

Enhanced Sound

To compensate, we are extravagantly and recklessly expanding the class of acceptable transformations to include phonemic transformations. Please note, each transformation must be either entirely phonemic or orthographic, not mixed (though extra credit will be given for a single transformation that can function as both). Phonemic transformations should be monodialectal, and preference will be given to well documented varieties of English. Phonemic transformations may include IPA or some other guide to pronunciation, but must include the normal written form of each word in the transformation. We are also expanding the class of puzzles to include some word triplets. Each transformation (from the first word to the second, and from the second to the third) must follow the rules and guidelines for normal pairwise transformations.

The Previous Puzzle

There were a record number of solutions submitted for the previous Transform Puzzle, complicating the already difficult judging process. After careful consideration, and much wringing of hands and wrangling of equations, I arrived at an impartial method for weighing each participant’s submissions, taking into account the transformation length, unnecessary additions and deletions, rarity of words used, the relative difficulty of each puzzle, and the number and relative quality of each participant’s solutions.

The fair and balanced results are presented in order of general awesomeness in the Hall of Fame above at right. The Winners will each receive a SpecGram magnet of their choosing. So will the Honorable Mentions. What’s the difference, you ask? Fame! Honor! Glory! Pride! Respect! In other words, not all that much.

Below are some samples of the better solutions, along with some commentary by yours truly.

I’ve also thrown in the best of the worst solutions for your amusement:

This time we have eight word pairs and two word triplets. Reasonable solutions that do not require too many lookups in the OED may be eligible for a prizea SpecGram magnet. You may submit two solutions of each type (phonemic or orthographic) for each pair or triplet. If there are any good solutions, one or more winners will be chosen, and one or more prizes will be awarded.

To sum up: shorter solutions with fewer rare words are better. Use of proper names will be penalized. Solutions may not mix phonemic and orthographic transformations, nor additions and deletions.

Your task for this puzzle contest (Hint: some are easier orthographically, some phonemically):
  • transform cow into beef
  • transform pizza into pie
  • transform king into queen
  • transform witch into broom
  • transform yin into yang
  • transform hate into love
  • transform tense into lax
  • transform sweet into sour
  • transform ice into water
            and water into steam
  • transform weasel into lawyer
            and lawyer into shark
If you can come up with a few decent solutions, email them to SpecGam by June 15th, 2008. Solutions and prize winners will be revealed in the upcoming July 2008 issue. Sample solutions will be provided in that issue, along with a final round of lexicon-bruising transforms.

Linguistics for Lazy People—Psammeticus Press
SpecGram Vol CLIV, No 1 Contents