Consider this clue from a recent Hindu crossword:
THC 10279 (Gridman): Streamline New York's backward borough? (8)
The answer is BROOKLYN (defn: borough);
the wordplay is BROOK (stream) L (line), NY (New York) reversed.
Gridman's clue uses what is known as elision – the practice of omitting spaces between the cryptic components of a clue. "Streamline" is a single word but needs to be read separately STREAM + LINE to give BROOK + L.
In contrast to the wordplay device of omitting the space between indicator and fodder (e.g. INDEED - see tricky indicators), elision with charades has grammatical validity. In the answer BROOKLYN, there is no space between BROOK and L – it can be argued that this maps perfectly to STREAM and LINE, without a space in between.
But then, grammatical validity does not immediately equal fairness.
This clue from Anax's debut puzzle in the Independent used a similar clue with a helpful indicator, "apparently".
Indy 7088 (Anax): Withstand, apparently, one who's treacherous (6) WEASEL
W (with) STAND (easel)
The blogger on fifteensquared wrote:
Misled by the elision of the wordplay elements into “withstand” which some would complain about.
As it happened, nobody complained on that thread, one commenter wrote in support of the clue.
What do you say?
1. Is the use of elision in cryptic clues fair? If yes, would you expect a hint in the clue that something unusual is going on?
2. How far can this be taken? Should there be a cap on the number of components, position of the join? If you say STREAMLINE = STREAM+LINE is justified, will you say the same for STREAMLINE = ST + REAM + LINE?
- The Irregular Ways of "Regularly"
- Implied Indicators
- The Ximenean Scale for Single Letter Indicators
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