SpecGram Classifieds SpecGram Vol CLXII, No 2 Contents

IPA Code Puzzle I
Animals in Disguise

by Mary Shapiro
Truman State University

My mother used to say that some men are pigs and some are pets, and you have to figure out which are which. I have succeeded in cracking the code, and it turns out that (as usual), Mom was right, but she missed part of the story: some men are other types of animal, and some are just themselves (with no hidden animal nature). And Noam, of course, is something else entirely. Transcribe the following names (phonemically) into IPA and apply the instructions (in order) to decode the animal nature of each man.

a. Abe
b. Ben
c. Brock
d. Cain
e. Chett
f. Cole
g. Doug
h. Fred
i. Greg
j. Horace
k. Jay
l. Joe
m. Joel
n. Kyle
o. Manny
p. Mel
q. Mickey
r. Neil
s. Newt
t. Nick
u. Noam
v. Pete
w. Raj
x. Ted
y. Tony
z. Zac


  1. All bilabial sounds become voiceless oral stops, unless they precede /r/, in which case they’re deleted.

  2. At the start of a word, all oral alveolar sounds become stops.

  3. All velar stops become voiced.

  4. Both high tense vowels become mid, front, and lax except at the end of a word.

  5. Both low vowels become /o/ before nasals and /ɔ/ elsewhere.

  6. Diphthongs and the mid front tense vowel become /o/, except at the start of a word.

  7. The alveolar lateral liquid becomes a voiceless stop.

  8. A voiceless alveolar stop is inserted after a mid vowel at the end of a word.

  9. Voiced continuants become velar stops.

  10. The alveolar nasal becomes a voiceless bilabial stop at the start of a word, but a voiceless alveolar stop at the end of a word.

P A R C   S R I   O M N I
E L I A   T I S   M A I N
A M O R   E G O   A N T S
S A T I R E   L A N D    
      B U L G A R I A N S
Y U M A N   A T E   R O T
O R A N   I R E   B I D E
D A N   U N O   T E N E T
A L G O N Q U I A N      
    U R D U   S I G N A L
I D E A   I L L   A O N E
C O A L   R Y E   L O O T
H E N S   Y E S   I N D O

If you can complete the puzzle and send your solutions to the editors of SpecGram by August 15th, 2011, you could win a SpecGram magnet of your choice. The correct solution and winners, if any, will be announced in the September issue of Speculative Grammarian.

The solution to May’s tough-but-fair (or, as puzzlemeister Rick Bryan said, “Professor Pulju prepares pleasantly perplexing puzzle”) Language Relationships? crossword is at right. The prize-winning puzzlemeisters below will each receive a SpecGram magnet of their choice.

Alex WadeCole Perry
Luise DorenbuschRick Bryan

In addition, the following puzzlemeisters receive honorable mentionsoh, the glory! the glory!for also completing the puzzle (or nearly so).

Adam HesterbergT.J. Heins
Nina Vyatkina

SpecGram Classifieds
SpecGram Vol CLXII, No 2 Contents