In words, pictures and figures

Scanned and digitally edited by Nassi, 20/05/2005

Published by Reader's Digest Services Pty Limited, Sydney

Copyright © 1975 The Reader's Digest Association Limited Copyright © 1975 Reader's Digest Services Pty Ltd, 26-32 Waterloo Street, Surry Hills, Sydney NSV' 2010 Copyright © 1975 The Reader's Digest Association South Africa (Pty) Limited Nedbank Centre, Strand Street, Cape Town, South Africa. National Library of Australia card number and SBN: ISBN 0 909486 43 3 All rights reserved. No part of this booklet may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, mechanical, photo-copying, recording or otherwise, without permission in writing from the publishers

Examples in the sections on anagrams, palindromes and pangrams are taken from Language On Vacation by Dmitri A. Borgmann, and reprinted by permission of Charles Scribner's Sons. Copyright © 1965 Dmitri A. Borgmann. Material in this booklet is also drawn from the following sources: Improving Your Spelling, compiled and published by Hunter Diack, Nottingham © Hunter Diack 1974. New Mathematical Diversions from Scientific American by Martin Gardner © 1966 Simon & Schuster, 1969 G. Bell. More Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions by Martin Gardner © 1963 G. Bell. The Second Scientific American Book of Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions by Martin Gardner © 1961 Simon & Schuster. The Guinness Book of Records, Guinness Superlatives Ltd © 1974. Anthology of British Tongue Twisters by Ken Parkin (Samuel French Ltd) © Ken Parkin, 1969. How to Increase Your W'ordpower © The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. 1971. Tangrams by Ronald C. Read (Dover Publishing Inc., New York) © 1965. The illustrations ‘Belvedere’, ‘Ascending and Descending’ and ‘Cascade’ by M. C. Escher are reproduced by permission of the Escher Foundation, Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague.


The strange world of words and figures
Words and numbers have a life of their own. Divorced from their everyday meanings, they can tease and tantalise, display the oddest qualities and provide the source of an infinite number of tricks and games. Take the housewife who buys a packet of semolina in a supermarket. If she were a wordsmith, she would instantly recognise that semolina, its letters rearranged, is no meal! Even your own telephone number has strange qualities. If you don't believe it, turn to p. 11 and you will find a game that proves the point, and which you can use to beguile your friends. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, this booklet is designed to provide a glimpse of a fascinating world. You may even find that you have a rare talent waiting to be discovered, like S. Ramanujan, an unknown Indian who wrote to the mathematician Godfrey Hardy, at Cambridge, in 1913. Hardy, to his astonishment, found that Ramanujan, without any training whatever, had worked out for himself mathematical formulae and theorems that had taken 2000 years of progressive thought for the rest of mankind to reach. Hardy often recounted a classic instance of Ramanujan's genius. One day he visited the Indian in hospital and during the conversation remarked sadly: ‘The number of my taxi cab was 1729. It seemed a rather dull number.’ Ramanujan replied instantly: ‘No, Hardy! It is a very interesting number-expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways.’ What his extraordinary mind had perceived in an instant was two complex calculations expressed in mathematical terms like this: 1729 = 12 3 + 1 3 or 9 3 + 10 3 You do not need to be a mathematical or verbal genius to explore and enjoy the strange world of words and figures. Just dip into this booklet, and make your own discoveries.

The strange world of words and figures 3 Games The magical number 1089 6 A hundred up! 7 Counting heads 7 How to be a mind-reader 8 Noughts and crosses: how never to lose How to win at Seven-five-three 11 How to dial the magic circle 11 Spot the card 13 Odds Roulette: never an even break 14 A flutter on the horses 15 The Lottery: a totally random gamble



Puzzles Magic squares: it all adds up to mystery 17 Pure maths–or pure fiction 19 The riddle of the gold bars 19 Multiplying the Elizabethan way 20 Multiplying the Russian way 22 Tangrams: the Chinese jigsaw 23 The Möbius strip: a twist that tantalises 24 The remarkable mind of M. C. Escher 25 Words Some words about words The Lord's Prayer 32 29


Weird words 33 Anagrams and antigrams 34 Palindromes 36 Doublets 38 Spelling bees that really sting 39 Pangrams 41 Tongue-twisters 41 Answers 43-48


The magical number 1089
No good at figures? Well, you don't have to be brilliant to impress your friends with this simple trick. First, write down the figure 1089 on a piece of paper and seal it in an envelope. Don't let anybody see what you are writing. Next, ask a friend to write down any three-figure number, with a single proviso: the first and last digits must be different. Now ask him to reverse the number and to subtract the smaller from the greater. If he chooses 123, for instance, the reverse is 321 and the subtraction gives: 321- 123 = 198 Ask him to reverse the new number, which in the example becomes 891. Now ask him to add the new number and its reverse: 198 + 891 = 1089 No matter what numbers are chosen, the answer will come out as 1089. If a zero occurs in any part of the calculation this must be counted, too. For example: 746- 647 = 099 Reversed, 099 becomes 990. Now add 099 to 990 = 1089. This kind of ‘magic’ can be embellished with little extras that have no purpose but mystify your audience still further. For instance, before you write down 1089 and seal it in an envelope, ask your ‘victim’ what his birth sign is, or his favourite colour, perhaps, with the implication that this will somehow have an important bearing on the outcome.


A hundred up!
Here's a game that is easy to learn and almost impossible to lose at once you know the formula. It needs two players, and the object is to be the first to reach 100, starting from 0 and counting in turns - each time adding any number up to and including 10. In order to win, you must be the first player to reach 89. Your opponent must then choose a number between 90 and 99, leaving you to reach 100 on your next turn. How do you make sure of getting to 89? By being the first to reach 78. And to reach 78 first, you must have been first to 67, and 56, and before that to 45, 34, 23, 12 and 1. If your opponent has first go and starts with 1 your best hope is that he does not know the formula and allows you at some stage to reach one of the key numbers. In any case, when playing inexpert rivals, it is best not to give the game away too much. Choose numbers at random until you get to 67, 78, or even 89, when the issue will be decided beyond doubt.

Counting heads
This party trick will win you an instant reputation for being able to see where an ordinary eye cannot probe. Step 1 Scatter a handful of coins on the table, making a mental note of the number that are showing heads. Step 2 Ask for a volunteer to blindfold you, then to turn over as many coins as he likes. Tell him he can, if he wishes, turn the same coin every time or any number of times, but make one proviso: every time he turns a coin over, he must say ‘turn’. Step 3 Count the number of turns, and add them, mentally, to the


number of heads you counted at the beginning. If, for example, there were 3 heads at the start and the coins were turned 7 times, that counts as 10. Keep this figure in your mind. Ask your volunteer to cover one coin with his hand, and have the blindfold removed. Step 4 Explain that you have X-ray vision and can see the coin beneath his hand. Unerringly, you will tell him whether it is heads or tails. All you need to do is to glance quickly at the remaining coins, check the number of heads, and make a simple calculation. If the figure you kept in mind (10 in the example) is even, then there will bean even number of heads in the total group. If the figure is odd, there will be an odd number of heads. A quick glance at the coins on the table will reveal whether there is an odd or an even number of heads, and from this it will immediately be apparent whether the hidden coin is heads or tails.

How to be a mind-reader
For this trick you need two pencils and two sheets of paper - one for a friend, the other for yourself. Don't let him see what you are writing down as you go through the following stages: 1 Turn your back, or wear a blindfold, and ask him to write down the year of his birth. Write down any four-figure number on your own piece of paper. 2 Ask him to write down any important year in his life. Again, go through the motions of receiving telepathic messages from him and write down any four-figure number. 3 Get him to write down the number of years that have elapsed between that year and the present year. On your own paper, write down any number that comes into your head.


4 Ask if he has had a birthday yet this year. If he has, let him write down his age. If not, let him write down the age he will be at his next birthday. Again, pretend to be writing down the same figure. 5 Ask him to add the total, and go through the motions of adding your own total. 6 Tell him to think very hard about the figure he has arrived at. Think hard with him, then tell him his answer: 3950. The explanation of this mind-reading trick is simple. If you add your age to your birth date, you must arrive at the present year, 1975. Similarly, adding the years that have elapsed since an event to the date of that event must give the current year. So all your ‘victim’ has done is to add 1975 + 1975 = 3950. If you perform this trick in later years then the figure will, of course, have to be adjusted.

Noughts and crosses: How never to lose
There is no sure-fire formula for winning at noughts and crosses, although by knowing the correct responses to opening moves it is virtually impossible to lose. That is why, after a few hours' practice, any two astute players will find themselves drawing game after game. Although only 9 squares are used, there are 15,120 different sequences for the first five moves of the game. However, in practice the game is reduced to a few basic patterns. The only chance of winning is to catch an unwary opponent in a trap. Suppose, for instance, that you place an X in a corner, and your opponent puts his 0 in the corner beneath it:


If you place your nest X in the opposite corner from the first, this threatens your opponent with a diagonal line, and he has no choice but to place his O in the centre:

Your next move, which is a winner, is to put an X in the remaining corner, leaving your opponent trapped:

Whatever he now does, you are now bound to win, with a complete line of Xs either along the top or down the first column. A centre opening can also lead to a win, unless your opponent seizes a corner. If he makes the mistake of placing his O immediately below your X, it becomes a simple matter to trap him as in the following game:

Blocking tactics If you are O, the way to block any of the three basic opening moves, and so force a draw, is to avoid the shaded squares as shown below:

Corner opening

Centre opening

Side opening


How to win at Seven-five-three
It takes two people to play the deceptively simple game of Seven-fivethree. Three rows of matches are used, the players take turns at picking up matches, and the winner is the one who forces his opponent to pick up the last match from the last remaining pile. Lay out 15 matches in rows, like this:

There is only one rule: you can pick up as many or as few matches as you like at one go, but however many you choose they must all be taken from the same row. There is a way of playing Seven-five-three so that you win every time. But first try a few games just for fun. It is more of a challenge if you don't know the secret. Then, to find the winning formula, turn to page 44.

How to dial the magic circle
The fascinating thing about many mathematical puzzles is that they, seem to work for no good reason at all. A classic example of this kind of puzzle is the magic circle game, which can be played at parties with the help of a volunteer. It always works, even though it would take a mathematical expert to explain why.


Here is how to play the magic circle game: 1 Ask anybody to write down a phone number using at least three different numbers (for example 129 8972), then to scramble the order of the digits, and write down the new number (e.g. 278 9291). 2 Tell your volunteer helper to subtract the smaller number from the larger: 2789291 – 1298972 1490319 3 Add all the new 1 + 4 + 9 + 0 + 3 + 1 + 9 = 27 number's digits together:

4 Now add the digits of this new number: 2+7=9 Remember this number. 5 Place your finger on the star in the circle of mysterious symbols (below), and count clockwise round the circle, calling the star ‘1’, the triangle ‘2’ and so on, until you reach the total you arrived at in Step 4.

Your count will always end on the black square.

Spot the card
Many card tricks depend on stacking the deck beforehand. or on tile quickness of the hand deceiving the eye. Here is one which involves neither cheating nor sleight of hand. 1. Deal 21 cards from the pack, face up, and ask a volunteer to make a mental note of one as they are being dealt. 2. Turn your back, and ask the volunteer to pick up his chosen card and show it to the rest of the audience. Then ask him to replace it, to shuffle the cards and arrange them face up in three vertical rows. Tile first three cards form the beginning of the rows and successive cards are placed on the next rows in turn. 3. Turn round again, and ask which of the rows contains the chosen card. Now pick up the cards, a row at a time, with the bottom card of each row on top, and the other cards in the same order that they were laid down. The second row that you pick up must be the one that contains the selected card. 4. Deal the cards, again face up, into another three rows. Ask which row contains the chosen card, and again pick up all three rows, making sure the ‘special’ row is sandwiched between the other two. 5. Deal out three rows for the final time, and for the final time ask your helper which row contains his chosen card. 6. The fourth card in the row he points to is the one he originally selected. But to preserve the mystery, make a mental note of what it is, and ask your helper to pick up all the cards and to give them a final shuffle before handing them to you. Now tan the shuffled pack, pick out the card you noted, hand it to him… and watch his face.


Roulette: never an even break
Roulette attracts the world's most dedicated gamblers. Millionaires, mathematicians, actuaries and computer experts have attempted to beat the wheel with countless systems based on the laws of probability, or simply the sheer weight of money. The Englishman Charles Deville Wells, the original ‘man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo’, went to the tables there with £400 and emerged three days later with £40,000. That was in 1891, and the amount he won would be worth at least 20 times as much today. But this sort of coup is so rare that it merits a music-hall song, or at the very least headlines in the world's press. The harsh reality of roulette is that in the end the house is almost certain to win. And there are two good reasons: the existence of the zero and the fact that the house can set a limit to the amount staked at any single time. THE ZERO A roulette board has 36 numbers plus a zero. Most types of bets - the colours, odds and evens, and so on - seem at first glance to be even money (odds of 1 to 1). This is because the numbers are equally divided between odds and evens, high and low, black and red. But if the ball lands in zero, this wipes out all bets on the table - and this tilts the odds slightly but positively in the house's favour. The odds become 1 1/18 to 1 in favour of the house, and no system can overcome them mathematically. When betting on the 36 numbers themselves, the chances of any given number coming up are 1 in 37 because of the zero - yet no house gives a gambler better odds than 35 to 1. This demolishes all systems based on the numbers. THE LIMIT In theory, anyone with enough money and iron nerves could expect to win eventually simply by always backing either red or black, and doubling his stake every time he loses. This was the system used by Wells, when he broke the bank in 1891. He added the illusory refine-


ment that when he was betting on black he waited until red had come up five times in succession before placing his first bet. In practice, doubling up, as this most obvious of systems is called, is not a quick way to make a fortune, for the house always imposes a limit which is easily reached, often after only six or seven losing bets. What if there were no limit? There would still be no guarantee of winning by doubling up, for the wheel has no memory and each spin is totally independent of what happened before. A gambler who began with a £ 1 stake and doubled up after every loss would owe the bank £1,073,741,823 after just 30 losing spins in a row. Perhaps there is a system that can beat the wheel. But it is based on engineering, not mathematics. In the late 19th century William Jaggers, a British engineer, theorised that no roulette wheel could be perfectly balanced and that long surveillance would show which numbers the wheel favoured. He went to Monte Carlo to put his ideas to the test, won £80,000 on a table which revealed a marked bias - and was banned from the casino for life.

A flutter on the horses
Apart from the simple win and place bets available to those who wish to wager on horse races there are a number of other possible ways to bet. The most popular of these are the double and the quinella. The double refers to the two horses that win two featured races. The quinella refers to the two horses placed first and second in any one race. Bets on these two combinations are often preferred to a win and place bet since the prize money is much greater, although the chances of winning are naturally smaller. The races are decided by the form and fitness of the horses, the state of the going, the skill of the jockey, and a large slice of luck. Calculat-


ing the mathematical odds, then, is an academic exercise since it means ignoring all these unknown factors. Even so it is an exercise worth carrying out. Assuming that there are 15 horses in each race, then the chance of any horse coming first is one in 15, in betting terms the odds are 14-1 against. Thus the probability of any two horses winning the two events is one in 225 (15 x 15) or odds of 224-1 against. The odds of winning a quinella are only slightly better. If you assume once more that there are 15 horses in the race, the chance of picking the winning horse is again one in 15. If you get the winner right, you then have one chance in 14 of choosing the second placegetter. So the chance of winning a quinella is one in 210 (14 x 15) or odds of 209-1 against.

The Lottery: a totally random gamble
In 1971 Australians spent nearly $118 million on tickets in the various government and privately run lotteries throughout the country. This represents nearly $15 a head for every person over 20 years old. The chances of winning first prize are of course dictated by the number of tickets sold. In each of the five New South Wales lotteries 100,000 tickets are sold, which gives the gambler one chance in 100,000 of winning-odds of 99,999-1 against. But the possibility of winning one of the many other prizes offered is rather better. For the five New South Wales lotteries the chances are: 1 in 79 for the 55c lottery, 1 in 64 for the $1 lottery, 1 in 21 for the $2 lottery, 1 in 14 for the $6 lottery and 1 in 476 for the $ 10 lottery. The odds are roughly the same in the other state lotteries. In December 1974 a Victorian woman had rather better than average luck in a Tattersall's 60c lottery. She bought two tickets with consecutive numbers and won second and third prizes. The organisers of the lottery calculated that the odds against this happening are 6,399,968,000,000,000 to 1.

Magic squares: it all adds up to mystery
The formation of magic squares is an amusement dating back at least 2000 years to ancient India. The ‘magic’ lies in the fact that whichever way you add the numbers in the square - horizontally, vertically or diagonally, you always arrive at the same answer. In the simple square below, for example, the answer is always 15.

In theory, there is no limit to the number of squares that can be used in constructing a magic square, but in practice it represented a major breakthrough when, in 1959, three American mathematicians created one which contained 100 squares. Magic squares were introduced into Europe in the 15th century, and in those superstitious times they were often engraved on silver plates to guard against the plague. Here is a 16-number square created by the German artist Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) and included in his drawing Melancholy. Not only does it add up to 34 in every direction, but the numbers in the four corners of the square also total 34. An extra refinement is that the middle squares of the bottom line give the year of a great plague - 1514.


Here is a magic square containing 25 numbers, which add up in each direction to 105. If you add the four corner squares to the square in the middle, again you reach 105.

Constructing your own magic squares can be a stimulating and entertaining way of filling an odd half-hour or so. It is best to begin with 16-number squares, and there are a few rules to remember if your square is to work out properly. The first is that, wherever they appear in the square, all the numbers used must be in a sequence: 1 to 16, for example; 8 to 23; 9 to 24; 10 to 25 and so on. If you plan to construct an even square - one with an even number of smaller squares - start with the lowest number of the sequence in the bottom right-hand corner. If you are constructing an ‘odd’ square, put the lowest number in the middle of the top line. Here are some squares with a few numbers left out. Answers, and a formula to help you to construct magic squares, are on page 44.





Pure maths - or pure fiction?
If you have a friend who thinks he knows a little about mathematics, you may well drive him to despair by proving before his eyes that 2 = 1. Here is how to do it: Assume that x = y It follows that x – y = 0 And that 2x – 2y = 0 Therefore, x – y = 2x – 2y Another way of writing 2x – 2y, as any mathematician will agree, is 2(x – y) And another way of writing x – y is 1(x – y) So... 1(x – y) = 2(x – y) Divide each side of the equation by (x – y) and you are left with... 1 = 2.

Neat enough, but did you spot the fallacy? As any number multiplied by zero equals zero, all that you have proved effectively by stating that x – y = 2x – 2y is that 0 = 0.

The riddle of the gold bars
In the far-off days when camel trains used to ply the trade routes of Arabia, Persia and points East, a wealthy Baghdad merchant would load his camels once a year with sacks of gold and take them to Samarkand to trade for spices and silks. One year, there were 10 camels in the caravan, each with its own driver and each animal carrying a sack containing 10 bars of gold. Each bar weighed 10 lb., so each camel was loaded with 1001b. of gold when the caravan set out. But not when they reached journey's end! For a dishonest driver had


found a way of shaving exactly 1 lb. of gold off every bar in his sack in a way that was not visible. The thief was 10 lb. of gold richer and his load l0 lb. lighter. The merchant suspected he was being cheated but could not think of how to catch the thief. In desperation he went to a wise man who told him to prepare a large balance and weights. ‘Then,’ said the wise man, ‘I will show you how to catch the thief in a single weighing.’ What did the wise man tell the merchant? (ANSWER ON p. 45)

Multiplying the Elizabethan way
In Elizabethan England, students of mathematics were taught to multiply by a system which, though it may look cumbersome, can give the right answer almost as quickly as any modern one, short of using a slide rule. Called the lattice method, it worked like this: Suppose the problem is to multiply 123 by 456, 1 Draw a lattice with 3 x 3 squares. Write one of the numbers along the top and the other down the side, and divide each square diagonally.

2 Multiply the end digit along the top by each of the numbers in the first column, in turn. Put the units part of each answer in the bottom of the appropriate lattice triangle, and the tens part in the top of each triangle. Carry out the same process for the other two numbers along the top.





3 Add each diagonal column in turn, starting with the bottom right-hand column, and write down the totals along the bottom and up the left-hand side of the square. If any line totals 10 or more, write down the units figure for that column and carry on the tens figure to the next column.

4 Simply read off the answer: 56,088.


Multiplying the Russian way
Until modern educational methods were introduced this century, Russian peasants used an ingenious method of long multiplication that involved knowing how to double a number, how to halve one, and nothing else beyond simple addition. They would form two columns headed by the numbers they needed to multiply. The method works like this: Example: To multiply 97 by 39 Step 1 Progressively halve the numbers in the left-hand column (ignoring remainders), and double those in the right-hand column. Continue this operation until the left-hand column is reduced to the number 1. 97 x 39 48 x 78 24 x 156 12 x 312 6 x 624 3 x 1248 1 x 2496 Step 2 Cross out all the even numbers in the left-hand column, along with the adjacent numbers in the right-hand column. 97 x 39 48 x 78 24 x 156 12 x 312 6 x 624 3 x 1248 1 x 2496


Step 3 Add up the remaining numbers in the right-hand column, to give the answer. 39 –– –– –– –– 1248 2496 –––– Answer: 3783 ––––

Tangrams: the Chinese jigsaw
Tangrams are the original Chinese puzzle, closely resembling the Western Jigsaw. But while jigsaws can be completed in only one way, Tangrams have infinite possibilities. To make your own set of seven Tans, trace the Tangrams square (fig. 1) on to tracing paper, then on to thick cardboard.

Fig. 1


Now look at the silhouettes below (figs. 2-6) and re-create them from the seven Tans without any overlapping. The solutions can be checked against those provided (p. 45, figs. 2a - 6a), although your answers may differ as there are many ways of arriving at the same shape.

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

Fig. 4

Fig. 5

Fig. 6

But re-creating figures is only half the challenge of Tangrams; you may well want to make new figures of your own.

The Möbius Strip: a twist that tantalises
The Möbius Strip, invented by the 19th-ccntury German mathematician Ferdinand Möbius, looks simple: a strip of paper that has been given a twist and has had the ends joined (fig. 1). But that twist produces some strange results. A normal ring of paper without a twist has an inside and an outside. But a Möbius Strip has neither: it has only one surface. To check this, take a pencil and draw a line on the strip. Without removing pencil from paper the line will eventually meet itself - and the entire strip has been covered. If an ordinary cylindrical strip is cut along the centre, two identical strips are produced. Not so with the Möbius Strip, which will produce only one ring, twice the size of the first, with two complete twists in it (fig.2). If another cut is now made a third of the width from the edge and


continued around until it meets up with itself, two interlocking rings are produced - one with two twists in it, and a smaller ring the same as the original strip (fig. 3). Another variation is to put two twists into the strip (fig. 4). When this is cut, two interlocking rings are produced, each with a double twist.

The remarkable mind of M. C. Escher
Things are not what they seem. This is the message of the odd, haunting graphics of the Dutch artist M. C. Escher (1898-1972). His vision is of a world in which impossible objects seem, briefly, to make sense. Anybody trapped on an Escher staircase would find himself constantly retracing his steps, yet going up for ever. The human brain has a knack of making sense out of the information relayed to it by the senses, so, at first glance, everything in the Escher drawings on the next three pages seems normal, if somewhat eerie. But look again, and you will see surprising things.

Belvedere The key to this picture is the drawing of a cube on a piece of paper in the left foreground. Which is the front of the cube and which the back? The man an the bench holds a solid representation of this twodimensional puzzle. And the entire building repeats the same theme. Two men are climbing a ladder placed inside this impossible building. The ladder slopes inwards, yet when they reach the top, they will be outside the belvedere.

Waterfall No single part of this picture is illogical, yet the picture as a whole does not make sense. Start at the water-wheel and follow the course of the water, along its conduits and to the top of the waterfall. It tumbles down to turn the wheel - and starts its course again. A drop of water leaving the bottom of the fall would miraculously flow to the top. Another oddity: the two towers seem to he equal in height, yet one has three storeys while the other has only two.

Ascending and Descending Escher's hooded figures are trapped for eternity on an endless staircase. No matter how many steps they climb, they are always at the bottom – unless they decide to walk in the opposite direction when, no matter how far they descend, they are always reaching the top.

Some words about words
English is generally agreed to be the richest of the world's 3000 languages. The 12-volume Oxford English Dictionary lists 414,825 words, of which about 200,000 are in current use. Three whole days would be needed to read the OED aloud from A to zyxt (a dialect form of the verb ‘to see’). It would take almost as long again to recite the 300,000 technical terms which English possesses, and which are not found in ordinary dictionaries. Few other languages can match this word power. Chinese may come close - though no one has counted it satisfactorily. German has a vocabulary of only 184,000 words and French has fewer than 100,000. English is also the second most widely spoken language. It is the mother tongue of 320 million people, compared with 550 million speaking Mandarin Chinese. English owes its exceptionally large vocabulary to the fact that, unlike many other languages, it has the capacity to borrow and absorb words from outside. Jazz, aqualung, atomic, satellite, pop, garage, sputnik and bikini are eight of the many words which have come into use during this century. They have been taken or adapted from American Negro slang, Latin, French, Russian and the name of a Polynesian island. The process of borrowing has been going on for more than 1000 years. When the Normans arrived in 1066, most people in England spoke Anglo-Saxon, an amalgam of various Teutonic languages with a vocabulary of about 30,000 words. The Normans' language was a mixture of Latin and French, and it took about 300 years for the two streams to blend into the forerunner of modern English. Today, there are roughly as many Latin and French words in the language as there are Anglo-Saxon, though in conversation we tend to use four times more Anglo-Saxon words than Latin or French ones. When we speak of kings, queens, lords, ladies and earls we are using

words of Anglo-Saxon origin. Countess, peer, prince, duke and duchess were introduced by the Normans. Town, hamlet, hall and house are Anglo-Saxon. The Normans gave us city, village, palace and mansion. In the Middle Ages, the revival of learning brought the introduction of many words drawn from classical Latin and Greek. Genius and drama were taken from Greek in 1513 and 1515 respectively - some 50 years before the birth of England's genius of the drama, William Shakespeare. The classical languages have been a fruitful source ever since. In 1903, for example, George Bernard Shaw went to Latin to translate the German word übermensch as super-man. His super idea now enables us to buy super-size goods from the supermarket. More recently, the makers of the mini car raided Latin to describe their vehicle - and mini, with its Latin converse maxi and the Greek micro, took its place beside super as an adjective of our age.

Our limited vocabularies
Few of us use more than a fraction of the vast number of words which English possesses. Even Shakespeare had a written vocabulary of at most 30,000 words - though in the 16th and 17th centuries the language was much smaller than it is today. Chaucer, some 200 years earlier, employed only 8000 different words in his writing. A competent modern novelist has a written vocabulary of between 10,000 and 15,000 words. James Joyce in Ulysses used 30,000. Among the rest of us a vocabulary of 20,000 words is considered good, and the average is nearer to 10,000. To read The Times newspaper from cover to cover calls for a vocabulary of 50,000 words, because it involves knowing so many specialist terms from ballet, science, gardening, finance and so on. An everyday telephone conversation requires a vocabulary of only 5000 words. What we lack in variety we make up in volume and repetition. Speaking steadily, we can utter about 1500 clauses an hour, and can understand someone talking at 322 words a minute (though it is more

comfortable for us to listen to a speed of around 100 words a minute). In everyday conversation, most of us will take less than two months to utter as many words as there are in all of Shakespeare's plays - despite the fact that nearly half of our speaking time is made up of pauses. We repeat ourselves on average every 10 to 15 words, and in conversation the word we use most is ‘I’, though when we are writing it becomes ‘the’. In conversation, we prefer to speak in monosyllables like ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or ‘thanks’, rather than in sentences. But if we do form a sentence it will probably have about 10 words, compared with the 22 words per sentence used by the historian Macaulay. The discrepancy between the large number of words in English and the small number which people actually use has inspired a series of attempts at language reform. The most widely acclaimed of these is Basic English, devised by C:. K. Ogden in the 1930s. He reduced English to just 850 words which, it is said, allow a speaker or writer to express any idea.

The games we play
Whatever the practical merits of Basic English, it does not have the appeal of the living language. ‘Blood, body water and eye water’ is a poor substitute for ‘blood, sweat and tears’. Nor does it offer the same scope for the word games and plays on words which so fascinate English speakers - crosswords, anagrams and palindromes, puns and Spoonerisms. The Greeks and Romans played some of the earliest word games and created puns. But the English writers from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Pope and Belloc made the pun their own. ‘His sins were scarlet, but his books were read,’ punned Belloc in perhaps his best-remembered lines. History reserves a special place for William Archibald Spooner. When he rose in the chapel of New College, Oxford, in 1879 and announced the next hymn as ‘Kinquering kongs their titles take’, it was a


lapse which might have been quickly forgotten. But Spooner, at least by repute, had not finished. With sayings like ‘Sir, you have hissed all my mystery lectures and tasted the whole worm’ and ‘I have just received a blushing crow’, he began an enduring craze. ‘Spoonerism’ found its way into the dictionary - and one more word was added to the living stream of the English language.

The Lord's Prayer
Pidgin, a version of English first developed in the 16th century in South America and Africa, is still widely spoken in West Africa and Papua New Guinea. It has its own grammar and rules of spelling. The name Pidgin itself may derive from the Pidian tribe of Indians in South America, or from a corruption of the word ‘business’. Basic English is an 850-word simplified language devised by C. K. Ogden in the 1930s. ‘Basic’ stands for British American Scientific International Commercial.
In Pidgin English Papa belong me-fella, you stop long heaven All'e sanctu 'im name belong you. Kingdom belong you 'e come. All 'e hear 'im talk belong you long ground all same long heaven. Today givem kaikai belong day long mefella. Forgive 'im wrong belong me-fella all-same me-fella forgive 'im wrong all 'e makem long me-fella. You no bring-em me-fella long try 'im. Take 'way some t'ing nogood long mefella. In Basic English Father of all up in the sky You get our deepest respect. We hope your nation with you as king for ruler will come down to us. We hope you have your way in the place we live as on high. Give us food for now, and overlook wrongdoing as we overlook wrongdoing by persons to us. Please guide us from courses of desire, and keep us from badness.


Weird words.
The English language is full of weird words. We use many of them every day, and it is only when we stop to study them that we realise just how odd they are. For example, can you name: 1 A reasonably common word which contains all five vowels, each used once, and in their correct alphabetical order? 2 A seven-letter word which does not use any of the five vowels? 3 A reasonably common word which contains the letters ‘shch’ grouped together in the middle? 4 A word which contains the letters ‘tchphr’ grouped together in the middle? 5 A word with more than 15 letters in which the only vowel is E? 6 A word which contains three pairs of identical letters, each pair coming directly after the one before? 7 The shortest common word to use each of the five vowels only once? Long words are a constant source of fascination. One favourite is ‘antidisestablishmentarianism’ (which has 28 letters and means ‘the act of opposing the separation of Church and State’). There is even a chemical term for a protein (written C1289H2051N343O375S8 for short) which has 1913 letters when written out in full. It begins ‘Methianylglutaminyl…’and ends ‘…alanylalanylthreonylarginylserine’. 8 Do you know the longest word in the Oxford English Dictionary? 9 What is the longest word which can be played on the piano? (That is, made up using only the letters C,D,E,F,G,A,B,C, - the notes which constitute an octave.)
(ANSWERS ON p. 46)


Anagrams and antigrams
In its simplest form, an anagram is a word, phrase or name whose letters can be rearranged to form another. It is a favourite of crossword-puzzle compilers, who delight in clues like ‘made a Cornish drink’ - to which the anagrammatised answer is, of course, ‘mead’. This is far too easy for anagram addicts. They insist on a stricter definition, which requires the anagram to explain or describe the word from which it is made. ‘Voices rant on,’ for example, is an appropriate anagram of ‘conversation’. Similarly, ‘mystics in a heap’, is an apt reorganisation of the letters in ‘metaphysicians’. Try your hand with apt anagrams for the phrases below. The answer in each case is one word. (Writing the letters in a random circle on a piece of paper may help you.) A 1 2 3 4 B 1 2 3 4 C 1 2 3 4 A rope ends it Our men earn it Nine thumps Sea term Heat's thrones Endless ambition Sir, am I not pretense? Apt is the cure Made sure Court posers Unrealisms trap us Tender names 5 6 7 8 5 6 7 8 5 6 7 8 A stew, sir? Restore plush Let's rush Often sheds tears Greed's sad end Is not solaced Life's aim Negroes get aid Problems in Chinese Seen as mist We sting An evil soul's sin

(ANSWERS ON p. 46)


Not all addicts content themselves with rearranging words from the dictionary. The Rev. Charles Dodgson (who, under his pen-name of Lewis Carroll, wrote A l i c e i n Wo n d e r l a n d ) specialised in the names of famous people. ‘Wild agitator means well’ was his anagram for William Ewart Gladstone, the Victorian Prime Minister. The actress Theda Bara did the job herself. Her screen name is a deliberate rearrangement of ‘Arab death’. Antigrams are anagrams in which the letters of a word are reorganised to form a word or phrase meaning the opposite of the original. ‘Evangelists,’ for example, can become ‘evil's agents’. Can you solve the antigrams listed below? The answer in each case is one word. A 1 2 3 4 B 1 2 3 4 C 1 2 3 4 I limit arms It's more fun Is it legal? No Fine tonic Nice to imports Untied Restful Aim to condemn Flags? No, no Tear no veils Martial Considerate 5 6 7 8 5 6 7 8 Ill-fed Archsaints Nice love Real fun Are advisers Casual Care is noted Is no credit

5 More tiny 6 Bon, amiable 7 Satan

(ANSWERS ON p. 46)


‘Madam I'm Adam’ and ‘Able was I ere I saw Elba’ are two of the bestknown palindromes – words or sentences which read the same backwards as they do forwards. There are many one-word palindromes. Can you supply ten of them to fit these clues? (The number of letters in the answer is shown in brackets.) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Feat or exploit (4) Mid-day (4) Holy woman (3) Males and females (5) Musical compositions for a single instrument (5) Not sloping (5) Heroic tales (5) Look or peer (4) Rulers of Iran (5) To cover a wall again (7)

(ANSWERS ON p. 47)

The palindromic sentence has a long and distinguished history. It is said to have been invented by the Greek poet Sotades in the 3rd century BC, and palindromes are sometimes called ‘Sotadics’ in his honour. The first English palindrome is believed to have been devised by John Taylor (1580-1653). His masterpiece was acceptable as a palindrome by the spelling standards of his time: ‘Lewd did I live & evil I did dwel’. A modern version is: ‘Evil I did dwell; lewd did I live’ and it can be expanded to become: ‘Reviled did I live, said I, as evil I did deliver’.


Here are some more examples of modern palindromes: ‘Live not on evil’ ‘Was it a car or a cat I saw?’ ‘Do not start at rats to nod’ ‘Pull up if I pull up’ ‘Some men interpret nine memos’ ‘No misses ordered roses, Simon’ ‘Niagara, o roar again’ ‘Yawn a more Roman way’ ‘Lew, Otto has a hot towel’ ‘Not New York, Roy went on’ ‘A man, a plan, a canal – Panama’ ‘Sums are not set as a test on Erasmus’. The last is something of a tongue-twister as well and, like the one before it, was devised by the British palindromist Leigh Mercer. Lovers of palindromes have been competing for years to produce the longest sentence, and have come up with two formulae which may help you to create long palindromes of your own. The first starts with a simple palindrome like: ‘Dennis and Edna sinned’. This can be built up by adding new names: ‘Dennis, Nell, Edna, Leon, Noel and Ellen sinned’. Experts have expanded this example into a 263-letter palindrome, and in theory it should be possible to enlarge it almost indefinitely. The other formula uses the link-phrase ‘sides reversed is’. This is of course itself a palindrome, and it can be slipped into the middle of another to increase the length: ‘Evil bats in a cave, sides reversed is, Eva can I stab live’.


This form of word puzzle was extremely popular with the Victorians. Lewis Carroll was in his own day far better known for his skill in composing doublets than for writing Alice in Wonderland. The idea is to take two related words of the same length, such as ‘pig’ and ‘sty’, and to transform the first into the second by a series of one letter changes, each of which must form another word. Proper names are not allowed, and all the words used must appear in a dictionary. The puzzle can be made into a game for two or more people, the winner being the person who takes the fewest number of words to make the change. Here is one way of setting the PIG into the STY. (There is no ‘right’ answer in doublets.) PIG WIG WAG WAY SAY STY Now try your hand with these six doublets compiled by Carroll for Vanity Fair magazine. The number of changes he used is shown in brackets after each doublet. You might even be able to beat Carroll's performance. 1 Prove GRASS to be GREEN (8) 2 Evolve MAN from APE (6) 3 Raise ONE to TWO (8) 4 Change BLUE to PINK (9) 5 Turn WINTER into SUMMER (14) 6 Put ROUGE on CHEEK (16) 7 Finally, here's one that Lewis Carroll didn't think of. Can you turn WORD into DEED in four changes?
(ANSWERS ON p. 47)


Spelling bees that really sting
This quick quiz will test your spelling skill. All of the words come from a list of the most common spelling mistakes compiled after tests on 87,000 schoolchildren between the ages of 13 and 18. Can you find the 10 which are wrong and give the right spellings? Separate Untill Alright Ceiling Adress Correspondence Schedule Accommodate Developement Parlament Besiege Bicycle Wierd Acquire Mispelled Possess Resteraunt Embarrassed Truely Recieve Here is a list of 40 words which baffle even teachers and writers. Can you give the correct spellings for the 20 which are wrong? 1 2 Accelerator Allotted Assasin Category Connoiseur Demagogue Dessicate Dilapidated Discrimanate Disheveled Disippate Effervescent Fuselage Gaity Immacculate Innocuous Liquify Millionaire Misccllanious Paraffin Paralysis Pedagogue Penitenciary Perspiration Phlem Picknicking Prairie Presciption Propellor Rasberry Rinoceros Sherriff Sieve Solder Tariff Tonsilitis Tyranny Vaccillate Vanilla Victuals

(ANSWERS ON p. 47)


The 19 words below have all been used in the finals of the US National Spelling Bee, an annual competition for American schoolchildren. Can you give the correct spellings for the nine which are wrong? 3 Abscess Agressor Annihilate Batallion Brocolli Catalyst Chrysanthamum Ecstacy Exhilarate Fission Fricasee Hairbrained Hippopotamus Hypocricy Moccasin Questionnaire Requiem Sacralegious Subpoena

Can you insert one or two letters (no more) between the word pairs below to make a third word? 4 Of end Do ant Of ice By one Of hand In aid To ado Be me To rate In ate

Finally, can you supply the missing letters to turn the following into words? 5 Dfndnt Dpndbl Dphrm Dggrl Ecntc Fsbl Gmtry Hrchy Hlcst Intrgng

(ANSWERS ON p. 48)


A pangram is a sentence or paragraph which includes every letter of the alphabet. If you are a typist, you will probably know this one: ‘A quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.’ It contains 33 letters. Can you devise a pangram which is shorter? Many people have tried. This one has 32 letters: ‘Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.’ And this pangram has only 28 letters: ‘Waltz, nymph, for quick jigs vex Bud.’ The minimum number of letters is obviously 26. You can make a 26letter pangram by using made-up proper names: ‘J. Q. Schwartz flung D. V. Pike my box.’ But that smacks of cheating. The King James version of the Bible contains this near pangram: ‘And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily.’ – Ezra 7:21. Only the letter J is missing. There is another biblical near-pangram in I Chronicles 12:40. It is longer and omits the letter Q. ‘Moreover they that were nigh them, even unto Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali, brought bread on asses, and on camels, and on mules, and on oxen, and meat, meal, cakes of figs, and bunches of raisins, and wine, and oil, and oxen, and sheep abundantly: for there was joy in Israel.’

No one knows how or when tongue-twisters originated, but some of the most familiar ones have been around for more than 150 years. ‘Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper,’ for example, appeared in 1819 in a British book called, tongue-twistingly, Peter Piper's Practical Principles of Plain and Perfect Pronunciation.


According to Mr Ken Parkin, a British music examiner who has compiled an anthology of tongue-twisters, the most difficult one in his collection is: ‘The sixth sick sheik's sixth sheep's sick.’ Here are some more for you to get your tongue around: A bloke's back brake-block broke A dozen double damask dinner napkins A fat-thighed freak fries thick fish A knapsack strap, a strap from a knapsack ‘Are you copper-bottoming 'em, my man?’ ‘No, I'm aluminiuming 'em, Mum.’ A truly rural frugal ruler's mural A soft shot-silk sash shop Black bug's blood Diligence dismisseth despondency Freddy Thrush flies through thick fog Gig-whip. Gig-whip. Gig-whip Hath Hazel asthma? Peggy Babcock. Peggy Babcock. Peggy Babcock She sells sea shells on the seashore Snow slight, no swipe She stood on the balcony inexplicably mimicking him and welcoming him in Still the sinking steamer sank Stop chop shops selling chopped shop chops The Leith police dismisseth us They threw three quick things 'Twixt Trent and Tweed Which switch, miss, is the right switch for Ipswich, miss? Whistle for the thistle sifter




Seven-five-three (p. 11)
In order to win every time at Seven-five-three, there are two patterns to aim at. The first is to make moves that leave your opponent with only two rows of matches, with an equal number of matches in each row. Suppose, for instance, you are A and have left B with two rows of 5 matches each: If B takes 1 match from the top row, A should take the one from the bottom, leaving two equal rows of 2, which is a winning position. If B takes 1 match from the middle row, A takes 2 from the top. If B takes both matches from the middle, A removes a113 from the top. If B takes the match from the bottom, A makes two equal rows, by removing a match from the top. If he picks up a complete row, your winning move is to take all but one of the remaining row. In all other cases pick up exactly as many matches as your opponent took, but always take them from the other row. When only 3 or 4 matches are left, the winning strategy will be obvious. If B takes 1 match, then A should take 1 from the other row, leaving two equal rows of 4. If B takes 2, A should take 2, leaving two equal rows of 3. If B takes 3, A should take 3, leaving two equal rows of 2. If B takes 4, A should take 5, leaving B to pick up the last match. If B takes 5, A should take 4, again winning. The other pattern that must result in a win is to present your opponent with a 3-2-1 situation: A. This one is easy, because the bottom line is complete. It adds up to 62, which means that all the other lines must also total 62. The missing figures, starting from the top line and working down are: 20, 12 and 14. If B takes 2 from the top row, A takes 1 from the middle row. If B takes the entire top row, A should remove the entire middle row. This may seem complicated and too much to remember. Don't worry. Just play a few games and keep in mind the winning patterns: two equal rows and 3-2-1. You'll soon be unbeatable.

Magic Squares (p. 17)

B. The ‘magic’ total is 150, so the missing numbers are (from the top): 32, 37, 36 and 33.


C. The columns total 50 and the missing numbers are (from the top): 6, 9, 10 and 5. To construct a 16-number magic square, choose any sequence of numbers, put the lowest in the bottom right-hand square, then follow the order of numbering set out below.

of these together - and had there been no thief, the combined weight ought to have been 550 lb. (10 + 20 + 30 + 40 + 50 + 60 + 70 + 80 + 90 + 100 = 550) The number of pounds by which this total fell short would point unerringly to the thief. If the gold bars weighed only 540 lb., for instance, camel driver No. 10 must be the dishonest man, for only he could have reduced the total by 10 lb. If the total was 7 lb. light, then of course driver No. 7 must be the culprit for only he had handed over 7 bars, each 1 lb. light.

The pattern for a 25-number square is:

Tangrams (p. 23)

The riddle of the gold bars (p. 19)
The wise man told the merchant to line up the camels with their drivers and sacks of gold, and to number each man from I – 10. Then he was to take 1 bar of gold from the first driver, 2 from the second, 3 from the third and so on, until the 10th driver handed over 10 bars of gold. The merchant was to weigh all


Weird Words (p. 33)
1 FAcEtIOUs 2 Rhythms 3 PuSHCHair 4 CaTCHPHRase 5 Strengthlessness 6 BOOKKEEper. The pairs can be increased to four if one accepts ‘suBBOOKKEEper’. 7 SEqUOIA 8 Floccinaucinihilipilification. It has 29 letters, and is sometimes spelt ‘floccipauci…’. It means ‘the act of estimating something to be worthless’. 9 If hyphens are permitted, the answers include: cabbage-bed, beaded-edge, and face-bedded. Without hyphens, you can make: bebedded; bedeafed; cabbaged; debagged; and debadged.

Antigrams (p. 35)
A 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. B 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. C 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Militarism Misfortune Legislation Infection Filled Anarchists Violence Funeral Protectionism United Fluster Commendation Adversaries Causal Desecration Discretion Gonfalons Revelations Marital Desecration Enormity Abominable Santa

Anagrams (p. 34)
A 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. B 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. C 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Desperation Remuneration Punishment Steamer Waitress Upholsterers Hustlers Softheartedness Hearthstones Indomitableness Misrepresentation Therapeutics Degradedness Disconsolate Families Desegregation Measured Prosecutors Supernaturalisms Endearments Incomprehensibles Steaminess Twinges Villainousness


Palindromes (p. 36)

Doublets (p. 38)

Spelling (pp. 39-40)
The letter (C) after a word means that it was spelt correctly in the first place.




Separate (C) Ceiling (C) Schedule(C) Parliam ent Weird Possess (C) Truly Un til

Besiege (C) Acq uire (C) Restau ran t Receive All right Corresp on dence (C) Develo p m en t Bicy cle (C)

Address Missp elled Accom m od ate (C) Em b arrassed (C)


Accelerator (C) Allo tted (C) Assassin Category (C) Co nnoisseu r Dem agogu e (C) Desiccate Dilapidated (C) Discrim inate Dish evelled

Dissip ate Effervescent (C) Fu selage (C) Gaiety Im m aculate In no cu o us (C) Liqu efy Millio naire (C) Miscellaneou s Paraffin (C)


2 cont.
Paralysis (C) Pedagogue (C) Penitentiary Perspiration (C) Phlegm Picnicking Prairie (C) Prescription Propeller Raspberry Rhinoceros Sheriff Sieve (C) Solder (C) Tariff (C) Tonsillitis Tyranny (C) Vacillate Vanilla (C) Victuals (C)

Hippopotamus (C) Hypocrisy Moccasin (C) Questionnaire (C)

Requiem (C) Sacrilegious Subpoena (C)


Offend Dormant Office Bygone Offhand

Inlaid Tornado Become, became Tolerate Innate, inflate Feasible, fashionable Geometry Hierarchy Holocaust Intriguing

5 3
Abscess (C) Aggressor Annihilate (C) Battalion Broccoli Catalyst (C) Chrysanthemum Ecstasy Exhilarate (C) Fission (C) Fricassee Harebrained

Defendant Dependable Diaphragm Doggerel Eccentric, or egocentric

Published by Reader's Digest Services Pty Limited, 26-32 Waterloo Street, Surry Hills, NSW 2010. Printed in 1977 by John Sands Pty Ltd, 14 Herbert Street, Artarmon, NSW 2064


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