August 15, 2002
You Can't Handle The Quiz

Taking a leaf from IsntaPundit, here are some literary and linguistic puzzles to chew over:

  1. What was Doctor Faustus' first name?
  2. What was Don Juan's last name?
  3. What was Odysseus' sister's name?
  4. What U.S. president coauthored (with his wife) the standard translation of a Renaissance Latin classic? The book is still in print: only $29.95 in paperback.
  5. What is the only three-syllable word in English that does not contain any A, E, I, O, or U? (At least I assume it's the only one.)
  6. I have read that the only English word that is pronounced differently depending on whether it is capitalized is "polish/Polish". I can think of two more possibilities, though one may not be pronounced differently in all forms of English, and the other requires making a noun plural in a rather artificial way. Hint: One is a food, an island, and a battle, the other a plant, a drug, and a personal name.
  7. Assignment: Make up a new English word that combines three stems, one Greek, one Latin, and one English (not necessarily in that order). The three stems must all be pronounced the same, but spelled differently. Hint: The only word I can come up with fitting these rules describes a passion shared by many animal-lovers, including many bloggers. It really needs a name. Further hint: It's nice to feel kneaded.

Sorry: no monetary prize for correct answers, just whatever glory a laudatory mention on this site can provide.

Update: (8/16, 10:30 AM)
Don't peek at the comments until you come up with your own answers. The first five and a half have been solved.

Update: (8/17, 12:10 AM)
All questions except the last have now been answered. Perhaps I should explain a bit better what I mean by 'stems': if it comes from Latin, ped- means 'foot' as in 'pedal' and 'pedometer', but if it comes from Greek, it means 'child' as in 'pediatrician' and 'pedophile'. Similarly, Greek card- means 'heart' as in 'cardiologist' and 'electrocardiogram', while Latin card- means 'hinge' as in 'cardinal', and English card has a variety of means having nothing to do with hearts or hinges. Other sets of stems like these could theoretically be combined into words of repetitious form and complex meaning. Does that make things clear? Or do I need to give further hints?

Posted by Dr. Weevil at August 15, 2002 11:57 PM

I know at least one three-syllable word lacking A, E, I, O, and U: syzygy.

Posted by: Dean Esmay on August 16, 2002 04:36 AM

John and Abigail Adams co-authored at least one book. On the other hand, I know John Quincy Adams has some translations that you can still find, but I don't recall his wife helping him.

Posted by: Dean Esmay on August 16, 2002 04:45 AM

Okay, sorry for the triple post, but, I believe you're referring to John Quincy and Louisa Catherine Adams' translations of Tacitus and other works?

Posted by: Dean Esmay on August 16, 2002 04:49 AM

I'm guessing the food, island, and battle answer for 6 is Salamis.

Posted by: Andrew Moore on August 16, 2002 04:49 AM

1. If I remember right, in Marlowe it's John (in the original German "Faust Book", Johannes).
2. Don Juan Tenorio. But in his Don Juan story, "Les Ames du Purgatoire", Prosper Merimee writes: "Cicero says somewhere, I believe in his treatise 'On the Nature of the Gods', that there are many Jupiters - one Jupiter in Crete - another in Olympia - another elsewhere- so that there is not one Greek city with a little bit of fame that does not have its own Jupiter . All these Jupiters have been turned into a single one and he has been attributed with all the adventures of each of his homonyms...The same confusion has arisen in the case of Don Juan, a character who approaches Jupiter in fame. Seville alone has possessed several Don Juans; many another town claims one for itself. Once each had his separate legend. Over time they have all blended into one. Yet it is easy to separate each one, or at least to distinguish two of these heroes, namely: Don Juan Tenorio, who, as everybody knows, was carried off by a stone statue; and Don Juan de Marafia, whose end was totally different..."

Posted by: Murti Bing on August 16, 2002 06:25 AM

3. Odysseus' sister was Ctimene (mentioned once in the "Odyssey" Book 15)

Posted by: Murti Bing on August 16, 2002 06:36 AM

OK, that takes care of 1, 2, 3, 5, and half of 6. Answers: John, Tenorio, Ctimene or Ktimene, syzygy, and salamis/Salamis. I waffled a bit on the last, since small-S "salami" is already plural. But I figure we could say "that deli has an amazing selection of salamis and bolognas", just as we can say "fishes" and "grasses" if we are referring to different varieties.

Now how about 4, 7, and the other half of 6 (which I thought was actually the easier half)? The president I was thinking of is not either of the Adamses, since Tacitus is not a Renaissance writer, and I don't know that any book-length Adams translations are in print. John Quincy Adams did do an interesting translation of at least one ode of Horace. The book I'm thinking of got 5 stars from 3 readers on Amazon, if that helps.

Winners so far: Murti Bing (1-3), Dean Esmay (5), Andrew Moore (half of 6).

I also received correct answers to 2 and 5 by e-mail from the Timekeeper of Horologium.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on August 16, 2002 08:04 AM

Hmmm. You've got me stumped on that Renaissance Latin question, doc. It wouldn't be Gerald and Betty Ford's translation of Pierio Valeriano's "Hieroglyphica sive de sacris Aegyptorum aliarumque gentium literis", would it? Or maybe Bill and Hilary's pioneering English version of Janus Secundus' collection of neo-Latin elegies, "Basia"?

Posted by: Murti Bing on August 16, 2002 09:28 AM

We have a winner for #4. In an e-mail, my brother the engineer (call him 'steevil') suggests Herbert Hoover. (No, I didn't give him any hints.) Amazon lists this Dover translation by Mr. and Mrs. Hoover of Georgius Agricola's 1556 treatise on mining, De Re Metallica. Of course, Mr. Hoover provided most of the background knowledge in engineering and mining and most of the footnotes. Whether Mrs. Hoover did most of the actual translating I do not know. Probably: her name is listed first.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on August 16, 2002 10:08 AM

De Re Metallica, Translated by Herbert Hoover and Lou Henry Hoover.

Great book, fantastic woodcut illustrations.

And what is Dr. Weevil's opinion of Agricola's habit of making up his own Latin terms for mining operations, instead of using perfectly good German ones?

Posted by: Geoff Weil on August 16, 2002 02:15 PM

For 6, what about Nice?

Posted by: Andrew Moore on August 16, 2002 04:04 PM

Very good: I hadn't thought of that one. Years ago, in grad school, a woman in my dorm visited the Riviera and bought a sweatshirt that said "Nice" (the city). She couldn't wear it around Chicago, because too many strange men would point at her chest and say "Heh heh, I get it, nice!"

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on August 16, 2002 04:24 PM

Okay, is it Herb? On this side of the Atlantic, anyway.

Posted by: Andrew Moore on August 16, 2002 04:40 PM

But is "Nice" properly prounounced differently as an English word (as "niece"), or should it not be pronounced differently when capitalized? After all, we do not pronounce "Paris" as Paree, especially when used as a synonym for gesso.

And what about English words that can be prounced differently depending on tense, e.g. read?

And will I get 40 lashes for suggesting that Don Juan's last name was De Marco?

Posted by: charles austin on August 16, 2002 04:54 PM

Oh, and my guess is the men in Chicago did not, in fact, get it.

Posted by: charles austin on August 16, 2002 04:55 PM

1. Geoff Weil:

Sorry, I haven't actually read the book, just leafed through it in bookstores, so I have no opinion yet.

2. Andrew Moore:

Yes, I was thinking of "herb/Herb". At least in the parts of the U.S. I have lived in, the H in "herb" is silent, while the H in "Herb" is not. That may not be true in all English-speaking regions, which is why I put in the proviso.

3. Charles Austin:

Everyone I know pronounces the city as if it were "Neese". For some foreign words, there seems to be a sort of 'vulgate', in-between pronunciation that is partially, but not totally Anglicized. Example: we don't pronounce "Debussy" as a Frenchman would, swallowing the vowels and making some other noises I can't describe in print. But we don't say "Dee-BUSS-ee" either. We say "DEB-yuh-see", which is sort of betwixt and between the French and English (by the latter I mean what the English pronunciation would be if the word were not French at all).

- - - - - - - - - -

So, can anyone handle question 7? I believe it's the only one left -- and the only one that requires creative talent.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on August 16, 2002 05:27 PM

For number 6, how about job and (the Biblical) Job? In fact, I read years (decades?) ago, that THIS was the only lower-case/Capitalized word that changed pronunciation.

Posted by: Bruce Lagasse on August 16, 2002 06:15 PM

Thanks, BL. That makes five (Polish/polish, Salamis/salamis, Herb/herb, Nice/nice, Job/job). I wonder how many others there are.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on August 16, 2002 06:43 PM

Here's my first shot at 7: If, for instance, an article about a politician drifted into talk about how well he gets along with his children, could it be called, "filiphilofiller?"

Posted by: Andrew Moore on August 17, 2002 03:33 AM

You're getting very warm. Read the hints again, and you may well get the whole answer.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on August 17, 2002 09:29 AM

I don't know if you're still checking these comments, days later as it is, but how about more hints? For instance, does it have anything to do with horses?

Posted by: Andrew Moore on August 20, 2002 01:26 AM

Nope, wrong species, though it would certainly be possible to construct a word that includes equ- meaning 'horse' and equ- meaning 'fair, even'. But both of those are Latin stems: the latter was aequ- in Latin, but the A was lost somewhere along the way to English.

Should I just give the answer in a later post? This contest may be getting a bit stale.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on August 20, 2002 06:53 AM

Going on from Andrew Moore's guess ("philofilifeeler"), is it "philofelifeeler" or something like that? Meaning someone who likes to stroke a cat ( from the Greek prefix 'philo-' = loving, plus Latin 'feles'=a cat, plus English 'feeler'). Just a guess.

Posted by: Murti Bing on August 20, 2002 12:26 PM

Bingo! I was thinking of the abstract noun felifeeliphilia, "a strong fondness for caressing cats". It could equally well be feelifeliphilia, but it sounds better to me with the cat up front and the fondness at the end. So, was that a stupid joke?

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on August 20, 2002 12:39 PM

Good quiz, dubious neologism!

Posted by: Murti on August 21, 2002 04:28 PM

Another answer for #6 is 'Lima' (the bean, and in Peru).

Looks like this thread is dead, no one will see my post ...

Posted by: Dickster on November 7, 2002 09:19 PM