Monday, December 26, 2011

False friends and palindromes

For the holidays, a friend gave me a few months of saved up NYT Sunday magazines. Happy days for this one as I love the puzzles (along with the rest of the magazine). One of them featured palindromes.

Clue: Medusa's slayer takes agent to court 
Answer: Perseus sues rep

Clue: Students err
Answer: Pupils slip up

Clue: Disparaging Argentine leader badly injured?
Answer: Derogative Evita gored

There were others but I just included my favorites. I am fascinated with how the puzzle makers come up with these things. A neighbor, who also is a math teacher and who also coached soccer with me, makes crossword puzzles. His puzzles so far have been NYT dailies. I am not sure if he has had a "Sunday" puzzle yet.

 I've been trying to come up with my own palindromes.

Clue: Sue laments last born child
Answer: Naomi I moan!

OK, that wasn't original. Some classmate of Naomi's pointed that out to her back in middle school (though not the clue). Coming up with ones for Josh and Shanna are  difficult. I tried something with Sue and issues and nada. With Steve, there is hope.

Clue: Sue's husband apes animal doctors.
Answer: Steve mime vets.

Well it isn't easy.

And then there was a puzzle on False Friends entitled Polyglot. False friends ( I can't believe there isn't a better term; I was thinking that the term was false cognates but it isn't) are words that look the same in different languages but mean something very different. The languages featured were French, Spanish, Italian and German, which meshed perfectly with my toddler's expertise in those four languages though my German vocabulary consists of chemical terms which toddlers probably don't use such as ameisesaure (formic acid) and harnstoff (urea)

The clues were: alter, arenas, due, mar, tout, court, pane and rot.

I've been collecting false friends for a while. We used to visit Montreal in the winter to see my step-Grandmother. There was a park that featured Ski du fond (cross country skiing) that we would go to that had a brochure all in French. It discussed a class that looked to my slightly trained eyes like the teaching of the fine art of farting on skis.

 Farter = to wax

And false friends go both ways. Aimez vous les 'pets'?

pet = fart

At work, some of our chemicals came from Germany with the following warning:

Achtung! Gift!

They weren't warning that the substance was a gift (we probably paid plenty for it) but Poison.

Which leads to a false false friend: Poisson. This was my first one learned in junior high. To my 13 year old fish hating self, I thought, they named that right. (Tu as raison!) (That does not mean you have raisens)
Flash forward a zillion years to the near present. The name of the priest that we share a bequest with translates to Father Fish (I hope this does not google). According to my step-granddmother's will, inconveniently written in Quebecois legalese and saved as an image file so google translaters will not work, much money is reserved for Father Fish to give 'messes' (I love that False Friend alot..means masses) in order to save my grandfather's soul. I could think of better uses for said money.

And why does my grandfather need saving? He died a non-Catholic. Although they were married in a Catholic church, my grandfather did not convert. He had his own church though not in the literal sense that Josh's grandfather-in-law (!?! really, C'est vrai!) has but he attended  a main stream Protestant one. At my step-grandmother's request, Father Fish had conducted an unsuccessful exorcism of the demon that was thought to inhabit her roommate. God knows how much that cost! And was there a refund when it was unsuccessful?

I did meet Father Fish at her funeral. He spoke a mile a minute in Quebecois to us, much harder to understand than the Parisian French we learned in school.

In my mind, all I could think of was poison.

For X-mas, we went to brunch at Josh and Julia's with Naomi and her family. It was very nice. Maya enjoyed her gifts (not poisons). It is pure happiness to see her delight.

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