Monday, January 19, 2009

Wordplay Inversion

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invert-wordplay-cryptic-clue Most cryptic clues can be parsed into the components: definition, wordplay and indicator. Clue types such as anagrams, hidden words, containers, all follow this structure.

An occasional clue will use a variant of this format, that of "inverting" the wordplay. Consider the example below.

In a roundabout way, German article carries significance? On the contrary, vacuous levity (12) MEAN{DER}ING LY
German article = DER, significance = MEANING.
The containment indicator 'carries' would imply that DER contains MEANING, but the additional indicator 'on the contrary' swaps the container/contents indication. So then, MEANING contains DER.

Such clues have an extra indicator for the inversion. These are typically words that convey a sense of "the opposite" - such as 'contrary', 'converse'.

Try solving this clue that uses wordplay inversion:
Times 24125: Translating from this language? Just the opposite (5)

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Chaturvasi said...

I did not see the above clue before. Offhand - solving the clue cold, as they say - I think the answer is SLANG. Confirm if this is correct.

Shuchi said...

That's what I had entered first too! Later realized that the answer is LATIN (the opposite of "translating from this language" => "this language from transLATINg").

Chaturvasi said...

Oh, it's a reversal hidden, then!

Deusovi said...

I saw a great but difficult one of these a while ago.

Ay, in a terrible way! (8)