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Linguistic / Grammatical puzzle - Warning: Long!


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20 replies to this topic

#11 unreality

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 11:04 PM

Am i right, Sean Bluestone?
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#12 bonanova

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 11:16 PM

there are exactly 26 sentences
each misses the letter of that letter in the alphabet



I looked at that possibility in my post above.
Unfortunately,

[1] I count 50 sentences, not 26
[2] The third sentence has a "c" in the word "called" -- to wit:

Sentence 1:
I've spent the previous hour or so discovering one interesting property concerning linguistics.
[no a b f j k m q v w x z - 11 missing letters] - No "A"

Sentence 2:
It's given me much enjoyment while writing the text you're viewing just now.
[no a b c d f g k p q z - 10 missing leters] - No "B"

Sentence 3:
Noted as far in the past as 1853, I speak of a unique literary marvel called the lipogram.
[no b h j w x z - 6 missing letters] - Alas, there's a "C"

Is that the way you count the sentences?
It looks like you have two sentences as your first sentence.
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The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.
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#13 Riddari

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 12:57 AM

OK, this time I counted '!' and '?' as entence endings. So, I believe the correct count is 48 sentences. I do agree that the third sentence has a 'c' in it. I tried looking for simialr patterns, but did not see any. Here is the text, sentence by sentence:

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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#14 bonanova

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 01:39 AM

OK, this time I counted '!' and '?' as entence endings. So, I believe the correct count is 48 sentences. I do agree that the third sentence has a 'c' in it. I tried looking for simialr patterns, but did not see any.


I agree with your sentence count.
I got 50 by counting the two ":"'s as sentence parsers - because he began the following clauses with capital letters.
But I think that does not signify a new sentence, technically, and 48 is the correct count.

Another thing i did was look at the paragraph breaks

Paragraph 1 -- [no a b f q z - 4 missing letters]
Paragraph 2 -- [no z - 1 missing letter]
Paragraph 3 -- [no j q z - 3 missing letters]

I gave up on paragraphs after the 3rd.

I think a strong clue is that he said he tried to do something like what was done in the fairy tale,
where letters were progressively outlawed.
That is, a progressive disappearance of letters.
But I didn't see any evidence of that.

I'm actually getting to like this one ...
and I am very interested to see if someone cracks it.
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- Bertrand Russell

#15 Sean Bluestone

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 08:09 AM

As many of you have stated the typos and grammatical errors are not clues, they're just that. I wrote this in an excited hurry (took a few hours) and so you can blame them all on me and not some third party author.

Well done to unreality who was basically correct except for 'sentences'. And also to bonanova who has come very close a couple of times but unfortunately was JUST off each time.

Further clue:
unreality mentioned the number 26, very important.



Oh and the Shakespeare quote should read "To be or not to be, that's the query."
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#16 bonanova

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 02:02 PM

OK ...

so the idea is 26 -- there are 26 LINE BREAKS -- well, 25 line breaks;
26 lines of text, each spanning perhaps more than a single sentence.
So we parse by line breaks rather than by periods -- alluded to perhaps
by the clue: "show off lipograms, and uses in periods gone.]"

Then there's the clue about Tryphiodorus .. where the 24 Odyssey chronicles
were missing the corresponding greek letter. And in the 9th line, corresponding
to the letter I, he goes out of his way to avoid that letter
by saying is was difficult to express one's own name
instead of the more natural his own name.

But that approach, hoped for by unreality and me, doesn't work:
Lines 4,12, 14 and 20 contain, respectively, d, l, n and t.
Here are the lines, with the number and corresponding letter in parens.
Spoiler for ...


Now, he said I came close but no cigar a couple times.
That could mean his allusion to the letter manipulation in the fairy tale:
Ella Minnow Pea, where letters are progressively outlawed until finally only
LMNOP [hence the title!] remain in use.
But I don't see a restricted letter set in the author's narrative.

Finally, perhaps we should give attention to his paragraph breaks.

Look at: ... I can't help but stop and reflect.
[new paragraph]
On Mr Burnmann.

What's that all about ... ? certainly an unnatural way to break up a thought.
There are nine paragraphs. Nine doesn't seem significant.
In my first post, I looked at missing letters by paragraph and stopped
after the 3rd because no pattern was apparent.

Still scratching my head.
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The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.
- Bertrand Russell

#17 normdeplume

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 04:10 PM

I don't know if it helps at all, but it seems to me, that each of the 26 line breaks, are made up of 26 words (if you were to count the munerals as one word). It does not solve this puzzle but it may help someone on the right direction.

I am also looking forward to seeing the solution to this puzzle.
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#18 bonanova

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 05:49 PM

each of the 26 line breaks, are made up of 26 words

Great observation!

A 26 x 26 array of words.
Unfortunately A's are not missing from the 1st column, etc.
But this gives us something new to look at.

Nice job.
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The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.
- Bertrand Russell

#19 Sean Bluestone

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 06:32 PM

I must first apologize profusely for not proof reading my puzzle before submitting it. As such I've frustrated and annoyed you all. The method proposed by bonanova and unreality WERE correct, it was just that I messed things up by not proof reading.

And so the solution:

Spoiler for ...

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#20 bonanova

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Posted 31 August 2007 - 07:29 PM

I must first apologize profusely for not proof reading my puzzle before submitting it. As such I've frustrated and annoyed you all. The method proposed by bonanova and unreality WERE correct, it was just that I messed things up by not proof reading.

Bravo regardless. you certainly engaged a number of us for a while!

As far as proofreading goes, it's difficult at best, and yours was
more challenging than most.

I was about to post the following, but it probably falls into the proofreading
category, as well, and [obviously now] is not a step toward the solution.

Line [12I] has 25 words - probably from shortening "that is" to "that's"
Line [17Q] "Haikus ..." has 27 words.
Line [18R] "So they ..." has just 25.

You must have had fun putting this one together.
Hope you do more.
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The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.
- Bertrand Russell




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