Review!—Reviewed by Miranda Nuncalea SpecGram Vol CLXXI, No 1 Contents

Linguistically-Themed Pseudo-Nihonese Puzzles

From Speculative Grammarian CLI.2-CLVII.η, April 2006-July 2009

Reviewed by Ἔλλειψις Ἀστερίσκος and Ἔλλειψις Ἀπόστροφος

We remember when sudoku first came onto the scenethe math and science nerds lapped it up like they’d been waiting their whole lives for it. A few brave cultural anthropologists tried to stay relevant during The Sudoku Crisis of 2004/2005 by commenting on the puzzle’s recent Japanese originsbut nobody was listening. The rest of us social scientists tried to keep up, but generally we couldn’t. Oh, a few computational phonologists reduced the whole thing to a set of simultaneous constraints and set their automatic resolvers loose on itbut no one was that impressed.

Then came Lingdoku. The first one (Jones, 2006, SpecGram CLI.2) was admittedly little more than a jokeso easy for anyone with a B+ or better in Phonetics that it was hardly worth noticing. But it was clever, and amusing, andit just so happensnot at all easy for those who had not gotten a B+ or better in Phonetics. Y’know, like mathematicians, physicists, chemists, and all those other sudoku-loving, hard-science–doing, linguist-annoying dorks. Not easy at all.

Lingdoku II (Jones, 2006, SpecGram CLI.3) was a genuine challenge for linguistically inclined sudokuists, and cemented Lingdoku as something a linguist could proudly post on an office or cubby door to confound the unwary non-linguist who happened to wander into the department uninvited. And like modern-day hipsters (before anyone had even heard of hipstersso meta!) those linguists could dismiss anyone uncool and uncouth enough to ask about it by telling the unfortunate interlocutors that they’d probably never heard of it, and wouldn’t understand the irony anyway.

Samurai Lingdoku (Jones, 2006, SpecGram CLI.4) and Monster Lingdoku (Jones, 2007, SpecGram CLIII.1) followed, in an apparent attempt to be too “cool” for anyone to actually completethough a few stalwart souls apparently did so. No matter, as their near-impossibility rendered them far more effective weapons for those linguists whose non-linguist colleagues had successfully scaled Mount Lingdoku II.

As the months and years progressed, more puzzles (and puzzle types) with the implicit (or often explicit) goal of introducing “a thin veneer of linguistics which confuses outsiders while making linguists feel superior” appeared in the pages of SpecGram.

The late Noughties were a great time for linguist-puzzlers! The only thing better for helping linguist-puzzlers to get ahead that has appeared in SpecGram was the E’s-y Cryptogram (Einigkeit, 2009, SpecGram CLVII.η)!

The answers to last month’s EtymGeo™Weird Little U.S. Towns, Part V puzzle are: Home, Ohio; Okay, Oklahoma; Boring, Oregon; Panic, Pennsylvania; Purgatory, Rhode Island; Coward, South Carolina; Epiphany, South Dakota; and Difficult, Tennessee.

Review!Reviewed by Miranda Nuncalea
SpecGram Vol CLXXI, No 1 Contents