The new puzzle this week is completely new: a recently-finished Beelzebub. Beelzebub means ‘lord of the flies’ in Hebrew, but is in English dictionaries nonetheless (what did they call the Hebrew translation of Golding’s novel?)
English, as a language, is insatiable in its acquisition of words from other tongues. This comes, at least in part, from a sequence of invasions from Europe, as well as the later creation of an Empire upon which to draw (anyone for tiffin?) This has led to a lot of mistranslations, mistransliterations and general ill-usage. I dare say it happens the other way – I seem to recall reading how ‘mansion’ had been adopted into Japanese, where ‘man-‘ is already a prefix denoting size. And so now ‘-sion’ is used with a variety of Japanese prefixes to indicate different sizes of building.
This topic has swum to the surface as a result of a recent Azed puzzle which included the entry WHANAUS, defined correctly in terms of family groups. However, the M?ori alphabet does not contain the letter S, and plurals are identical to the singular. (Indeed, ‘wh?nau’ is actually a five-letter word, since the digraph ‘wh’ is a letter in te Reo, as is ‘ng’.) There is presently here a focus on improving general awareness and usage of te Reo, so this sort of thing does tend to stick out, even to a novice like myself. I still sense a tendency to bung an S on the names of plants and animals (e.g. Kiwis) and so on, but there’s a greater appreciation that the words used for everyday life should be used accurately.
M?ori has a very different structure to English, which I find fascinating, even as I flail to get on top of the vocabulary. I cannot see how you could write a cryptic clue in the language, though there is a word for crossword: pangakupu (or riddle-word, to use its components). The setter of this month’s Guardian Genius puzzle uses that as a pseudonym, so I assume it is someone over here. I knew too that Pangakupu had set a couple of daily puzzles for the paper, with the comments speculating that s/he might be me. So I betook myself to the relevant pages on the Guardian site, and read the comments there (and on fifteensquared, for that matter). Guardian puzzles do get a lot more comments than doled out to us poor souls on the Independent, don’t they?
There was some debate about a hidden announcement specifically stating Pangakupu=Phi. I couldn’t see anything there saying that – I did unearth KAITIAKI in the first daily (it means Guardian; tiaki is a verb meaning to guard, while kai- is a prefix identifying the human agent doing the verb’s action; nothing to do with food, though ‘kai’ does mean ‘food’ as well). But I couldn’t see anything in the second daily from last month, which would be a terrible oversight on my part as a Nina-hider.
I did see some odd, and perhaps thoughtless, comments that expressed surprise that M?ori had a word for ‘crossword’ – a rather more colonial mindset than you’d expect from the Guardian, I thought. Before I forget, I have tried to use correct spelling, which includes placing macrons above vowels. (These lengthen the vowel when the word is pronounced.) Alas, while WordPress happily allows me to include them in my draft, they seem to get converted to ‘?’ on publication. As it happens I’ve only had to use them on the letter A in the above, so just replace every ‘?’ with – ah – well, you see my problem.
August has quite a few of my puzzles appearing. The current (5 August) issue of the Church Times has one, and next week sees a Times Quick Cryptic on 9 August, and a Telegraph Toughie on 11 August, while there’ll be a 15×15 Times Cryptic on 17 August. All in addition to the Independent Friday appearances.