WSJ Contest — August 10, 2018

7:30 grid, 30 seconds meta (Laura) 


Peter Gordon’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Found in Translation”—Laura’s review

WSJ Contest - 8.10.18 - Solution

WSJ Contest – 8.10.18 – Solution

This week, we’re told that “the answer to this week’s contest crossword is a language.” Allons-y, mes amis:

  • [17a: Literally, “novel with a key”]: ROMAN A CLEF. A friend was planning to write a roman à clef about our college days, and we all got to choose our pseudonyms. Mine was Valerie Heisenberg.
  • [25a: Literally, “red bush”]: ROOIBOS. Celestial Seasonings makes a lovely vanilla rooibos tea.
  • [36a: Literally, “restructuring”]: PERESTROIKA. I’ve been bingeing The Americans this summer, and the dramatic irony — i.e. knowing that Gorbachev, with his policies of glasnost and perestroika, is right around the corner — is intense. Also the soundtrack is rad.
  • [50a: Literally, “disk”]: MANDALA. In Tibetan Buddhist tradition, a mandala made of colored sand represents the transitory nature of the material world.
  • [59a: Literally, “baked earth”]: TERRA COTTA. TIL that earthenware such as terra cotta is any kind of pottery fired below 1200 Celsius, which means that the material does not vitrify (unlike porcelain or stoneware).

Take the languages from which these terms originate, in order of the entries, and you have: French, Afrikaans, Russian, Sanskrit, Italian = FARSI, also known as Persian. Farsi is spoken by over 100 million people worldwide, and is an official language in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan.

C’est magnifique, and a lovely entry-level metapuzzle for beginners. Your thoughts?

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5 Responses to WSJ Contest — August 10, 2018

  1. JohnH says:

    I agree that the theme was easy, but the puzzle was a chore anyway. I could see from F_RSI that we needed an A, but what was this weird word I’d never heard of crossing _CHOA (and next to, what, EGG CORN), and what language is that? Some of the rest felt little better. Yuk.

  2. Ben says:

    This was a nice WSJ contest that took me way longer than it should have.Unfortunately, I assumed ROOIBOS was Dutch and TERRA COTTA was Latin, so I went looking for other ways to get to a language before it finally dawned that F_RS_ made way more sense as FARSI than FDRSL!

    The title was also a bit of a red herring for me – I think I was expecting a more difficult solve, so I assumed that “Found in Translation” meant that the letters in TRANSLATION had to be significant in some way.

  3. Garrett says:

    I had a great deal of trouble with the NE corner because I misunderstood the clue to EGGCORN thinking I was looking for a word that describes that sort of thing. I had ROOI??? and all I could think of was that I had a mistake! I looked in three crossword dictionaries for words beginning with ROOI and found nothing. Finally, I threw in the towel and used onelook to find the word.

    I managed to get French, Russian, and Italian on my own while I was solving, and so I already knew this was going to be FARSI already. I just had to look up ROOIBOS and MANDALA to get Afrikaans and Sanskrit to satisfy my curiosity. A hard grid to fill and an easy meta to get.

  4. Medicated says:

    Solving the meta was easy, the puzzle – tedious, still a chance for the mug.

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