Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24176/Brendan – polyglot

Posted by ilancaron on September 7th, 2007


Three alphabets used here: English, Greek and Hebrew though I have a quibble about use of the latter. The preamble made this puzzle quite easy I thought – I suspect it would have been more enjoyable without it actually – though perhaps that would have been more suited to a weekend puzzle. Not sure if there’s a pattern of which letters were actually chosen but perhaps, while writing this blog, that will be revealed.

In any event, as per usual, must admire Brendan’s brilliance in which each clue started with the sound of a letter of an alphabet (16D).


7 PIPE,BAND=”banned” – starts with Greek PI.
8 E,ER(I)ER – starts with EE=”e”.
11 DELTA WINGS – (Wild agents)*. DELTA is, well, the 4th letter of the Greek alphabet. Oh, you knew that…
14 A,PI,ARIES – this time PI is “religious” (short for pious) and A=”a” (a long A, that is, to rhyme with ape). ARIES is our “sign” and it’s where busy worker bees hang out.
15 INITIAL – first word of our theme. For some reason this was obvious to me on first read (beginner’s luck, or should I say, INITIAL luck). Two meanings: one cryptic.
17 LETTERS – 2nd theme word: two quite different meanings – ref. 16D (ALPHABET) and if you’re in the business of hiring something you need to let it.
22 E(US)TON – US in rev(note). EU=”u”.
23 DE-ESCA,LATE – DEE=”d”: ceased* followed by rev(et al=rest).
24 OBE,Y – O=”o”. &lit I think since I believe there’s an “honour and obey” your parents commandment injunction… no?
25 EU=”you”=”u”,GENE=”Jean” – it’s a boy’s name
26 EMPHATIC – (Item chap)*: EM=”m”


1 EIGHTEEN – (he teeing)* and EIGH=”a” and it’s the number of holes in a round of golf.
2 ZERO – another number (0=love). Though, in this case, “ZE” doesn’t really sound like “z” which is closer to ZEE at least in America.
3 TAW,DRY – turns out that TAW is a kind of marble. Another case of the homophone going wrong – the setter must have meant TAW which is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet – but it really should be pronounced TAV with the V as in “vier” in German. That said, for all I know, perhaps somehow in English it’s pronounced to rhyme with CAW? Having just said all of this, I just realized that perhaps he intended it to be Greek TAU (which I thought was pronounced to rhyme with ouch)? Adjudication?
4 PENALISE – (pain, else)* and PE=”p”. An S&M clue (what does this say about our setter I ask you?)
5 AR[e],BIT,RATES – AR=”r”. BIT RATE is a slightly technical term for transmission speed of digital data.
6 GEE-GEE – it’s what the middle part of “trigger” sounds like and GEE=”g” (and it’s childlish for “horse”).
8 DELIAN – rev(nailed=caught): “from island in the Aegean” describes someone from Delos – I guess must be pronounced “DE”=”dee”=”d” though if I had to guess I would have opted for a short “e”.
13 BE(TA-TE)STED – BETA’s our letter this time. Another technical term for early product testing.
16 ALPHABET – lovely clue (of the HIJKLMNO-school): A to M (atom) is indeed half the alphabet (and it starts with ALPHA!)
18 RHODES,I,A – RHO is yet another Greek letter with an apropos surface.
22 EX,EMPT[y] – EX=”x” and means “old flame”.
24 O,KAY – two homophones again: KAY=”K” (stands for knight”) and O=”o”. OK?

5 Responses to “Guardian 24176/Brendan – polyglot”

  1. Colin Blackburn says:

    I saw the English and Greek letters but the Hebrew ones passed me by. I just assumed he hadn’t managed to make every entry thematic.

  2. owenjonesuk says:

    re 24 across: “love, honour and obey” is part of the C of E marriage ceremony, although only for the woman (I think the man was meant to love, honour and cherish). Nowadays people often opt to miss out the bit about the woman obeying the man.

    Good crossword – I liked the theme a lot.

  3. Simply_simon says:

    The old knight is Sir Kay, who was one of the first knights of the round table, therefore – O Kay.

  4. Stuart says:

    The Greek Tau can be pronounced either way (as in “Ouch” or as in “Sore”). At least according to my A-level physics teacher – he may have been wrong of course.

  5. ilancaron says:

    Stuart I suspect you’re right that Brendan intended TAW to sound like Greek “tau” – I guess my Hebrew experiment was unwarranted after all (though in my defense the American Heritage dictionary has TAW as a spelling of TAV, the Hebrew letter… so you can see why I was confused).

    Any Greek scholars who can confirm the pronuncation of TAU?

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