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Linguistic / Grammatical puzzle - Warning: Long!


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#1 Sean Bluestone

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 02:10 PM

This is quite a long puzzle so you may need to spend some time at it. Where-as most of the posts on this forum are logical or mathematical puzzles, this one is entirely to do with text/linguistics. Also note that this section (in italics) is not part of the puzzle. Good luck!

I've spent the previous hour or so discovering one interesting property concerning linguistics. It's given me much enjoyment while writing the text you're viewing just now.

Noted as far in the past as 1853, I speak of a unique literary marvel called the lipogram. Let me further enlighten you on this matter.
Works of Shakespear and even the Bible have been rewriten in lipogram form and there exists a fairy tale entitled Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.
It tells the story of a country where certain letters begin to be outlawed. Letters vanish within the story as well as the books' text, simultaneously!
This is lipogrammation at its top and shows skill from said author. For at points, lipograms prohibit and limit wordflow and linguistic ability a high amount.

Another humorous example is of a Mr Gottlob Burmann, an eccentric German, 18th century poet who had an obsessive dislike in relation to the letter R.
He wrote some 130 poems without using the letter once! Not only that but Mr Burmann omitted the letter from his daily conversation for 17 years!
A strange trait it certainly was, and may seem incredible to you, but to make it more peculiar still: Consider, for a moment Mr Burmanns last name.
Correct, there's an R there! So how could Mr Burmann express ones own last name? He could not! And so was forced to use a pen!

Another example still is that of Brandreth, a British lipogrammarian who specializes in rewriting works of Shakespear in lipogram form. He rewrote Othello excluding letter O.
He rewrote Twelth Night without the letters I and O and Macbeth, excluding both A and E. Most interesting though, was his unique version of Hamlet.
Which dropped every I. This wasn't a problem for the witty character though, who instead pondered: "To be or not to be, that is the query."

Finally, consider Tryphiodorus, a poet of ancient Greece who wrote the epic Odyssey which was a chronicle of the adventures of Ulysses. These chronicles totalled 24.
As you may be aware the Greek alphabet has 24 letters, and for each of the 24 books of Odyssey Tryphiodorus removed the relative Greek character.
Thus the first tale was written entirely excluding the letter Alpha, the next excluded Beta, Gamma, and such. Indeed this may be the earliest established instance.

As you can see it requires great skill and attention to detail. In that sense, it is not entirely unlike Haiku, they both have similar restraints.
Haikus differ by placing a 3 line limit and a further restriction on the number of sounds or syllables on each line, five, seven and five respecitvely.
So they both have tight limits in place which demand dedication and attention, and the good ones will take much time and skill to complete.

Anyway, I have veered from the main point which I will now admit. An alternative motive can be found in the creation of the current text.
Objective number one, I'll reveal, is simply: show off lipograms, and uses in periods gone. My secondary is here for your discovery, in words before you.
Objective two was to create my own lipogram (of sorts) from the text and sentences on this very page. I've almost completed the task, I hope.
You see the fairy tale I mentioned earlier inspired me to try something similar, and while it's almost complete, I can't help but stop and reflect.

On Mr Burnmann. For unlike the others he didn't chose his affliction and so developed his skill as a side effect. Though he's better for it!
His problem forced him to engage his brain and write within constraints and restrictions. In doing so it created a unique poet and an interesting story.

Alas, I digress again. Suffice to state that the lipogram is a unique and interesting application of written language (it can be applied to all languages).
It's been in use for centuries and hides between the words until it suddenly dawns and smacks you in the face. Good luck finding one here.
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#2 Writersblock

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 01:12 AM

Ok, so it's not a traditional lipogram, as the text as present uses all 26 English language letters. Nor do any significant letters disappear with any regularity or frequency. Maybe I am missing something, but I don't see the point.

One question though, are the misspellings and typos supposed to be part of it, or are those "scrivener error?"

For example: Misspelling

Shakespear

and

rewriten

, incorrect usage of the possessive apostrophe on

the books' text

, omission of the possessive apostrophe and punctuation in

Mr Burmanns last name

, incorrect capitalization in

peculiar still: Consider

, etc.

If we are supposed to pay hyper-attention to the passage, we need to know if these are intentional or otherwise.
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#3 unreality

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 05:19 AM

On Mr Burnmann.



mispelling? or on purpose?
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#4 bonanova

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 01:46 PM

Looking for missing letters:
Spoiler for ...

Taking clues from the text:
Spoiler for ...

Which might lead to:
if "in periods gone" is significant, try looking only at sentences that end in "!", "?" and possibly ":" sentences with "periods gone".
taken together, they are missing "j" "q" and "z".
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The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.
- Bertrand Russell

#5 Writersblock

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 04:59 PM

Nice observations bonanova and unreality, but here's the thing: a lipogram should be clever and somewhat difficult for the author to pull off. A lipogram using J, Q, and Z would be the riddle's equivalent of a knock-knock joke: simple and innane. Think about it. How hard would it really be to write a passage where you don't use those letters?

I think that there are errors here that should not be and that is throwing off finding the "true" point behind this paragraph. In addition to those "errors" that we have found, I also see many places where commas should be used, but are not. Improper puntuation isn't part of a traditional lipogram, but I wonder if it is here?
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#6 Writersblock

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 05:03 PM

Just another thought. Does this make any sense to anyone else?

Most interesting though, was his unique version of Hamlet.
Which dropped every I. This wasn't a problem for the witty character though, who instead pondered: "To be or not to be, that is the query."



Isn't there an "i" in "is"? How can this be true, that he dropped every "i" and then Hamlet said "To be or not to be, that is the query" ?
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#7 unreality

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 06:47 PM

maybe we're supposed to find all the mistaken letters and put together a word

like so:

"i" from statement + n from "burnmann" etc

I-N-letter-letter-

and get a word?
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#8 bonanova

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 10:25 PM

Writersblock, I agree with your comments - absence of j's and q's aren't surprising.
I posted basically my dead ends, throwing my ideas into the mix, tho they were wrong.

I suspect that there is a solution regardless of what are probably typos.
The author most likely paid attention to the critical issues of letters
being present or absent in all the right places.

I kind of lit up when I saw no "a" in 1st sentence and no "b" in sentence 2. c'est la vie.

Should be interesting to learn eventually what the answer is.
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The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.
- Bertrand Russell

#9 unreality

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 10:58 PM

wait a sec....

I've spent the previous hour or so discovering one interesting property concerning linguistics. It's given me much enjoyment while writing the text you're viewing just now.

Noted as far in the past as 1853, I speak of a unique literary marvel called the lipogram. Let me further enlighten you on this matter.
Works of Shakespear and even the Bible have been rewriten in lipogram form and there exists a fairy tale entitled Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.
It tells the story of a country where certain letters begin to be outlawed. Letters vanish within the story as well as the books' text, simultaneously!
This is lipogrammation at its top and shows skill from said author. For at points, lipograms prohibit and limit wordflow and linguistic ability a high amount.



separating it into sentences:

I've spent the previous hour or so discovering one interesting property concerning linguistics. It's given me much enjoyment while writing the text you're viewing just now.


This is the true first sentence, as the italic part is NOT in the riddle. This has no A.

Noted as far in the past as 1853, I speak of a unique literary marvel called the lipogram. Let me further enlighten you on this matter.


second sentence- no B

Works of Shakespear and even the Bible have been rewriten in lipogram form and there exists a fairy tale entitled Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.


no C

It tells the story of a country where certain letters begin to be outlawed. Letters vanish within the story as well as the books' text, simultaneously!


no D

This is lipogrammation at its top and shows skill from said author. For at points, lipograms prohibit and limit wordflow and linguistic ability a high amount.


no E

this is just the first five sentences... should i keep going? are there even 26 sentences?
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#10 unreality

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 10:59 PM

YES! i have the answer


there are exactly 26 sentences

each misses the letter of that letter in the alphabet
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