You'll Find This Column Puzzling
Some of my readers are posers. No, they're not pretentious phonies. They simply enjoy posing word puzzlers like these (answers below).
-- Four Play -- There are many three-way homophones (three words that sound alike) such as "rays, raise and raze," but Ron Peterson of New Britain, Connecticut, challenges us to come up with eight FOUR-way homophones. To help out, he provides the starter word for each quartet. No. 1: sense; No. 2: laze; No. 3: write; No. 4: carrot; No. 5: medal; No. 6: ore; No. 7: buy; No. 8: air
-- Chain Letter -- David Saunders of Manchester, Vermont, shares a nifty little game to pass the time in the waiting room. Beginning with the one-letter word "a" or "I," attach a letter one at a time to create a new word with each addition. Example: i, in, sin, sing, singe, singer, singers (seven words). He dares you to find an eight-letter sequence starting with "a."
-- M.C. Grammar -- Occasionally an initialism such as "D.J." (disk jockey) or "M.C." (master of ceremonies) evolves into a fully spelled-out word ("dee-jay," "emcee"). Jay Davidson of Palo Alto, California, asks you to come up with four other initialisms that are sometimes spelled out as words.
-- Mad Hadders -- Robert Meyer of Berlin, Connecticut, sends this puzzler: Punctuate this sentence with commas, quotation marks and a semicolon so it makes sense: John where Mary had had had had had had had had had had been preferred by the teacher.
But Seymour Block of Walnut Creek, California, one-ups him with an 11-"had" challenge using the same punctuation marks: Jill where Jack had had had had had had had had had had had the teacher's approval.
Four Play -- No. 1: sense, cents, sense, cense (to spread incense); No. 2: laze, lays, leis, lase (to use a laser); No. 3: write, right, rite, wright (someone who constructs or repairs something); No. 4: carrot, carat, caret, karat; 5. medal, meddle, metal, mettle; No. 6: ore, or, oar, o'er; No. 7: buy, bi, by, bye; No. 8: air, ere, heir, err (though often pronounced "ur")
Chain Letters -- a, an, ran, rang, range, grange, granger, grangers, for one
M.C. Grammar -- "Sea-bee" from C.B. for construction battalion; "Jaycee" from J.C. for Junior Chamber of Commerce; "kayo" from K.O. for knock-out; "okay" from OK for "Oll Korrect" or "Old Kinderhook," depending on what theory you believe about its origin.
Mad Hadders -- John, where Mary had had "had," had had "had had"; "had had" had been preferred by the teacher. Jill, where Jack had had "had," had had "had had"; "had had" had had the judges' approval.
"Had" enough? Me too!
Rob Kyff, a teacher and writer in West Hartford, Connecticut, invites your language sightings. His book, "Mark My Words," is available for $9.99 on Amazon.com. Send your reports of misuse and abuse, as well as examples of good writing, via email to WordGuy@aol.com or by regular mail to Rob Kyff, Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, California, 90254.
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