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New York Times, Monday, March 27, 2017

Author:
Tom McCoy
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
3211/14/201310/7/20180
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
17815100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.61362
Tom McCoy

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 16 Words: 81, Blocks: 42 Missing: {JQZ} This is puzzle # 25 for Mr. McCoy. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Tom McCoy notes:
For the past few years, I've been a member of the Yale Grammatical Diversity Project (YGDP), which studies how grammar varies across dialects. ... read more

For the past few years, I've been a member of the Yale Grammatical Diversity Project (YGDP), which studies how grammar varies across dialects. The idea for this puzzle came when I was researching the for the YGDP; I'd been looking for a way to use the interpretation of STAKEOUT as S-TAKEOUT, and seeing the phrase ALLS I KNOW gave me an idea of how to do it.

When people think about dialectal variation, they usually think in terms of which words are available (e.g., whether you say soda or pop) and in terms of pronunciation (e.g. whether you pronounce caught and cot the same or differently). The YGDP studies a third type of dialectal variation, namely grammatical variation. An example of this is with the word anymore: In most dialects, anymore typically has to follow a negative word such as not ("Gas is not expensive anymore"), but in some dialects it can occur without a negative word ("Gas is really expensive anymore"). This usage is called positive , and it's pretty common where I'm from (the Pittsburgh area).

This puzzle touches on one of the core beliefs of most linguists--namely, that non-standard linguistic features such as "alls I know" should be embraced rather than disparaged. Language naturally varies across speakers and across time, and if you ignore its fluidity you miss much of its beauty. For a better explanation of this viewpoint, check out the op-ed "Our Language Prejudices Don't Make No Sense" by Raffaella Zanuttini.

A sincere thank you to all the members of the YGDP, both for inspiring this puzzle and for being such a big part of my undergraduate career!

Jeff Chen notes:
STAKEOUT parsed as S TAKE OUT, i.e. take out S's people tend to colloquially toss in. That first themer threw me for a loop — do people ... read more

STAKEOUT parsed as S TAKE OUT, i.e. take out S's people tend to colloquially toss in. That first themer threw me for a loop — do people actually say ALLS I KNOW? (It does look cool as ALL SIK NOW.) But the other themers gave me a smile, especially HOWS ABOUT, which I use all the time. Fun concept.

Nice start to the grid, kicking it off with two Xs, so smoothly worked in. Along with YES MAAM, that's the way you want to start your puzzle! We do get an AMO soon after, but that's one I can easily overlook since it's a lone dab of glue in that region. (Solvers that are TYROS (newbs) could easily disagree, though — I bet AMO is odd Latin to some.)

As a 16x15 puzzle — wider than normal — it's expected that there will be 2-3 more words than in a regular 15x15. With a wide puzzle, some of us constructors stubbornly stick to the usual word maximum of 78, and I'm glad that Tom let his word count rise to 81.

Why? Because it's surprisingly hard to get down to 78 words or less in a 16x15 without compromising smoothness in fill, and I value smoothness so highly in Monday puzzles. Instead of little regions that are 3-5 letters wide, you tend to get ones that are 6 letters wide, like the upper right. Those are so much more difficult to fill than 5-wides.

Now, I don't like it when a puzzle goes to a high word count by eliminating interesting long fill, but that's not the case here. Tom is as good as ever with his long fill, highlighted by LUCKY YOU, TOP HEAVY, ODDS ARE …, TOO SOON?, IMPROV. If I can get this many nice bonuses, with so few dabs of ugly crossword glue, I don't care at all that the puzzle is technically 3 words above the max.

This felt like a tough theme to grok for a Monday — and I just couldn't imagine a stickler grammarian saying "S take out!" — but I like the innovative thinking. Some great examples of that colloquial extra S, too.

Jim Horne notes:

I love this puzzle. Language Log has a nice post about it.

1
X
2
R
3
A
4
Y
5
S
6
C
7
A
8
W
9
L
10
E
11
T
12
U
13
P
14
S
15
M
I
X
E
R
16
A
M
O
17
U
T
O
P
I
A
18
A
L
L
S
I
19
K
N
O
W
20
C
H
O
S
E
N
21
S
E
E
M
22
N
O
N
23
T
K
O
S
24
A
25
L
O
N
G
26
W
A
Y
S
O
27
F
28
F
29
S
30
T
31
R
A
I
T
32
A
N
Y
33
O
L
A
34
F
35
T
R
U
M
P
36
A
R
G
O
37
N
A
I
L
38
E
O
N
39
S
40
T
41
A
K
E
O
U
42
T
43
G
L
O
44
M
I
S
45
O
46
O
A
R
S
47
O
48
B
O
E
S
49
S
K
I
D
50
P
H
O
51
T
R
E
N
D
S
52
A
N
D
53
T
H
E
N
54
I
55
S
A
Y
S
56
S
E
E
D
57
H
O
G
58
T
59
R
60
E
61
E
62
H
63
A
64
V
A
N
A
65
H
O
W
S
66
A
B
O
U
T
67
I
M
P
R
O
V
68
A
P
E
69
G
U
A
R
D
70
M
I
S
E
R
Y
71
L
E
D
72
T
Y
R
O
S
© 2017, The New York TimesNo. 0327 ( 24,611 )
Across
1
Set of pictures at a dentist's : XRAYS
6
Crow's sound : CAW
9
Reprieves : LETUPS
15
Event for meeting new people : MIXER
16
"I love," to Cato : AMO
17
Perfect world : UTOPIA
18
"The one thing that's clear to me ..." : ALLSIKNOW
20
Picked : CHOSEN
21
Appear : SEEM
22
"Smoking or ___?" : NON
23
Boxing achievements, in brief : TKOS
24
Distant : ALONGWAYSOFF
29
Narrow water passage : STRAIT
32
"___ day now ..." : ANY
33
Villainous count in the Lemony Snicket books : OLAF
35
Obama's successor : TRUMP
36
Jason's ship : ARGO
37
Pull off perfectly : NAIL
38
Many millennia : EON
39
Police operation ... or, when read another way, what a grammarian would like to do to 18-, 24-, 52- and 65-Across? : STAKEOUT
43
Day-___ paint : GLO
44
Japanese soup : MISO
46
Boaters' implements : OARS
47
Some woodwinds : OBOES
49
Lose traction on the road : SKID
50
Vietnamese soup : PHO
51
What Google's Ngram program tracks, for word usage : TRENDS
52
Narrative connector : ANDTHENISAYS
56
Peach pit or walnut : SEED
57
Greedy one : HOG
58
Peach or walnut : TREE
62
Cuba's capital : HAVANA
65
"What do you think of ...?" : HOWSABOUT
67
Unscripted comedy, informally : IMPROV
68
Mimic : APE
69
Watch over : GUARD
70
Blue state? : MISERY
71
Fluorescent bulb alternative, for short : LED
72
Novices : TYROS
Down
1
Dec. celebration : XMAS
2
Tick off : RILE
3
What car wheels turn on : AXLE
4
Polite affirmative : YESMAAM
5
___ Lanka : SRI
6
Group of books that an educated person is supposed to be familiar with : CANON
7
In the company of : AMONG
8
Blow away : WOW
9
Jealous words of congratulations : LUCKYYOU
10
Cultural spirit : ETHOS
11
"You can't joke about that yet" : TOOSOON
12
FedEx rival : UPS
13
Thanksgiving dessert : PIE
14
___ Juan, Puerto Rico : SAN
19
Problem with a shoelace : KNOT
23
Dance in which one partner might hold a rose between his teeth : TANGO
25
One might apply gloss to them : LIPS
26
Things for sale : WARES
27
Old-fashioned wine holder : FLAGON
28
Unsuccessful : FAILED
29
Thorny parts of roses : STEMS
30
Group of three : TROIKA
31
Enters hurriedly : RUNSIN
34
Often-unheeded advice from dentists : FLOSS
36
Ohio city that was once the Rubber Capital of the World : AKRON
40
Liable to tip over, maybe : TOPHEAVY
41
Expressed amazement : AAHED
42
Labourite's opponent, in British politics : TORY
45
"Most likely ..." : ODDSARE
48
Big electronics chain : BESTBUY
51
License plates : TAGS
53
Choir member : TENOR
54
"Fingers crossed!" : IHOPE
55
Planted, as discord : SOWED
59
Sound to fear in the savanna : ROAR
60
Currency of France or Italy : EURO
61
When planes are due to take off, for short : ETDS
62
That guy : HIM
63
"What ___, chopped liver?" : AMI
64
Biden and Pence, in brief : VPS
65
Actor Holbrook : HAL
66
10%-er: Abbr. : AGT

Answer summary: 5 unique to this puzzle.

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