It's All Greek To Me
Originally published on Sun August 25, 2013 9:22 am
On-air challenge: You're given some sentences. Each sentence conceals the name of a language in consecutive letters. Name the language. Each answer has five or more letters.
Last week's challenge: The Roman numeral for 38 is XXXVIII. What is special or unusual about this Roman numeral that sets it apart from every other Roman numeral that can be written?
Answer: If every possible Roman numeral were listed in alphabetical order, XXXVIII would be last.
Winner: Joseph Kuperberg of Pittsford, N.Y.
Next week's challenge: Think of a business that's found in most towns. Its name consists of two words, each starting with a consonant. Interchange the consonants and you'll get two new words — neither of which rhymes with the original words. What business is it?
If you know the answer to next week's challenge, submit it here. Listeners who submit correct answers win a chance to play the on-air puzzle. Important: Include a phone number where we can reach you Thursday at 3 p.m. Eastern.
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. And I don't know about you, but in this very moment there is nothing in the world I would rather do than play the puzzle.
(SOUNDBITE OF THEME MUSIC)
MARTIN: Joining me now is WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master Will Shortz. Good morning, Will.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.
MARTIN: OK. So, refresh our memories. What was last week's challenge?
SHORTZ: Yes. It's something I heard at the International Puzzle Party in Japan. I said the Roman numeral for 38 is XXXVIII. And I asked: what is special or unusual about this Roman numeral that sets it apart from every other Roman numeral? And the answer is if every possible Roman numeral were listed in alphabetical order, XXXVIII would be last.
MARTIN: OK. So, this puzzle was really tough. We got about 150 correct answers. And our randomly selected winner is Joseph Kuperberg of Pittsford, New York. He joins us on the line now. Congratulations, Joseph.
JOSEPH KUPERBERG: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you, Will. This was indeed a tough challenge but happy to be here. Thrilled that I got picked.
MARTIN: So, how did you come up with the answer?
KUPERBERG: We were struggling. I work with a compadre of folks - my son, Jason, two good friends, Paul Kirsch Getchner(ph) and Jeff Gaglio(ph). And we text and email and phone each other. And we did not get this one until after 2 o'clock on Thursday. It finally just came to us. It was difficult, but you challenged us and we got it, Will.
SHORTZ: Nice going.
MARTIN: I love it and I love that it's a team effort.
KUPERBERG: Absolutely. We've been playing three and a half years. The four of us all keep track, and to date, over those three and a half years, we have 77 percent correct answers.
MARTIN: Wow. You are serious about this, Joseph.
KUPERBERG: We love it. Every Sunday morning, and if we can't listen in, we listen to the podcast or we check it out on the Web.
MARTIN: OK. Well, Joseph, with that, are you ready to play the puzzle?
KUPERBERG: I am ready to play the puzzle.
MARTIN: Let's do it, Will.
SHORTZ: All right. Joe, I'm going to read you some sentences. Each sentence conceals the name of a language in consecutive letters. Name the language. And each answer has five or more letters. For example, if I said the air is heavy, you would say Irish, 'cause that's hidden inside air is heavy.
MARTIN: You got it, Joseph?
KUPERBERG: I got it. It's going to be tough but let's do it.
MARTIN: Let's do it.
SHORTZ: Number one: Sudan is hot this time of year.
KUPERBERG: Sudan is hot this time of year.
SHORTZ: The start of the language is somewhere inside Sudan.
KUPERBERG: S-U-D-A-N. Rachel, anything?
MARTIN: I think it's Danish.
SHORTZ: Danish, yeah. Danish is hidden inside Sudan is hot.
MARTIN: Got it.
KUPERBERG: Nice job.
MARTIN: Hey, thanks. Thanks, Joseph. I'm supposed to cheer you on.
MARTIN: OK. Let's try the next one.
SHORTZ: Number two: in whispers, I answered the phone.
KUPERBERG: In whispers, I answered the phone.
MARTIN: And it could be anywhere in that sentence?
SHORTZ: Anywhere in the sentence. The starting letter is somewhere inside whispers. So, in whispers, I answered the phone.
SHORTZ: Persian, yes. Starting with the P. Excellent. I have to disagree, knowing you.
MARTIN: They make good yogurt.
SHORTZ: Greek is in there, good. The noodles we dished out were overcooked.
KUPERBERG: The noodles we dished out were overcooked. So, they were not al dente.
SHORTZ: Very good.
SHORTZ: Which is completely irrelevant to the answer.
SHORTZ: Swedish. Good job. No hint needed. I demand a rinse for my hair.
MARTIN: Oh, do you?
SHORTZ: Mandarin, good job. The director of the raffle misheard me. And the key to solving these, if you haven't figured out, is to hone in on the parts of the sentence that are the most awkwardly phrased. In this case: raffle misheard.
SHORTZ: Flemish, good. Get down or we giants will come up.
SHORTZ: Norwegian, good job. That's all lies, per Antony and Cleopatra.
KUPERBERG: Another tough one. You think you got it, Rachel?
SHORTZ: It starts somewhere inside lies.
SHORTZ: Esperanto is it, good. And here's your last one: are Soviet names ever used anymore?
MARTIN: Yes, sir.
SHORTZ: Vietnamese, yes.
KUPERBERG: Ah, yes. Good call, Will.
MARTIN: That was so fun. Congratulations, Joseph. You nailed it.
KUPERBERG: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you, Will.
MARTIN: For playing our puzzle today, you get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin - I'm sure you're very excited about that - puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at npr.org/puzzle. And before we let you go, Joseph, what is your public radio station?
KUPERBERG: WXXI 1370 A.M., Rochester, New York, and I can't wait to wear that lapel pin. I am very excited.
MARTIN: Joseph Kuperberg of Pittsford, New York. Thanks so much for playing the puzzle, Joseph.
KUPERBERG: Thanks. You guys have a great day.
MARTIN: You, too.
OK, Will. What's up for next week?
SHORTZ: OK, your challenge: Think of a business that's found in most towns. Its name consists of two words, each starting with a consonant. Interchange the consonants and you'll get two new words, neither of which rhymes with the original words. What business is it?
So again, a business found in most towns, name has two words. Each starts with a consonant. Switch the consonants and you get two new words, neither of which rhymes with the original words. What business is it?
MARTIN: OK. When you've got the answer, go to our website, npr.org/puzzle and then click on the Submit Your Answer link - just one entry per person, please. Our deadline is Thursday, August 29th at 3 P.M. Eastern.
Include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. And if you're the winner we'll give you a call, and you will get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times. And he is, of course, WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master, Will Shortz.
Thanks so much, Will.
SHORTZ: Thanks, Rachel.
(SOUNDBITE OF THEME MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.