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ERIC Number: ED395509
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1996
Pages: 18
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Misleading Contexts: The Construction of Ambiguity in the Cryptic Crossword Clue.
Cleary, John
Edinburgh Working Papers in Applied Linguistics, n7 p14-29 1996
This paper investigates the intentional creation of ambiguity by composers of cryptic crossword puzzles. Taking a research question of "what makes a cryptic clue more difficult to solve than a simple crossword clue," it compares a sample of cryptic and quick crosswords from "The Guardian" and attempts to isolate the linguistic factors that make the cryptic crosswords more difficult to complete. Cryptic crosswords represent creative employment of linguistic resources within specific conventions to produce a particular form of language as entertainment. It was found that the cryptics, on the whole, do not use more difficult vocabulary than the quicks and that both types of crosswords indicate the senses and denotations of the target words in broadly similar ways. The cryptics do employ more non-prototypical sense of target words and make much use of lexical and syntactic ambiguity in their clue writing to create a "misleading context" that leads the solver "up the garden path." It is argued that cryptic clues provide interesting material to investigate how persons process ambiguity and explore verbal play and humor. Cryptics involve the solver's whole semantic and syntactic competence in the resolution of ambiguity. An appendix offers sample clues with solutions. (Contains 14 references.) (Author/NAV)
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A