I am putting this in MPSIMS because half of it is just musing.
A couple questions about crossword puzzles:
I do three daily puzzles from different sites, and I have noticed that there is always at least one answer word that two or even all three of them have in common. I don’t mean now and again, as with a coincidence, but every single day. Do crossword puzzle writers get together and pick a “word of the day” or something?
None of my business really, but do puzzle writers get paid extra for product placement? (i.e., “number two rental car company.”)
Not a question, but I think it is cute how sometimes the puzzle writers will have an answer be a form of a verb that no one ever uses, but somehow you still know what it is. For example, today a clue was “rebelled or revolted,” and the answer was “uprose.” (funny how that works: the people rose up in an uprising.)
There are a lot of common crossword words. Anything with a lot of vowels will show up often. The funny verbs forms are expected. With funny verb forms I just get used to that kind of word in a crossword, I’ve seen ‘uprose’ before, saw ‘arisen’ just this morning.
I see the same thing - but I also see it for the current NY Times puzzle and a puzzle from Games that got published a year ago. With a limited number of words you’ll naturally get some commonality.
I used to read a column about comics in the Baltimore Sun, and they had an “oreo watch” - noting each time that cookie got used in the NY Times puzzle which I guess they reprinted. Avis might be the favorite rental car company but Saab and Olds are the favorite cars - not to mention REO.
Here’s my WAG - most crossword puzzle constructors hang out at cruciverbalist.com, and also do lots of crosswords. Also, most constructors have several puzzles ‘in the fire’ at a time.
When a new word (or ‘word’) gets introduced into the mix, either in a published puzzle, or at cruciverbalist, that new word helps ‘break the clog’ in several puzzles that had their constructors stuck, so a few constructors use that word very quickly after the first appearance and get published very near the same time.
If your #2 question is serious, no.
What crosswords do you do daily, by the way? That might also have an affect on how much ‘crosswordese’ you run into.
I have noticed some things do seem to come up over and over on different puzzles. Always figured it was a function of the letters. My main problem is clues that can’t be answered by themselves. 17 across says see 41 down and 41 down says see 17 across. What a croc that is. Every clue should be able to be answered by itself.
“Dozenth?” “zeroth?” No way! That is just crazy. But still, in a way, you know what they mean, even though it’s something people never actually say. bup: I do the Washington Post crossword, the L.A. Times, and the “Universal Daily Crossword.” It is interesting how the L.A. one is slightly skewed towards the entertainment industry.
When I was a kid, crossword puzzles were incomprehensible to me. I realize now that it was partly generational adult knowledge, like the stuff an adult in the 70s would have known that I didn’t, and partly that special portion of language reserved for crossword puzzles. But I’ve noticed that lately, the puzzles have been including some really great puns in their “theme answers.” (the long ones.)
Did they also do this back in the 70s, or is it a more recent development?
If I had a dollar for every time I ran across “etui” in a puzzle, I’d have enough to buy, well, a really nice etui. Of course, unless the people at the store were crossword puzzle people, they’d have no idea what I was asking for.
Compared to the 70s, crossword puzzles today (at least the better ones) strive for less crosswordese, fewer obscure words, and more current pop-culture references and playful, witty, punny clues. The change could be traced back to when Will Shortz took over as editor of the New York Times crossword in 1993, but has perhaps become more pronounced in recent years. For an example of the modern approach, try Buzzfeed’s crossword puzzle.