# News You Can Bruise for 2005September7 (entry 0)

Attack of the the Moon Illusion
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(5) Word Problems That Turn Out Not To Be That Interesting II: I noticed that the word "begin" has letters that are pretty evenly spaced, or at least they look evenly spaced if you have teeth as bad as mine used to be. B is letter 2, E is letter 5 (+3), G is letter 7 (+2), I is letter 9 (+2), N is letter 14 (+5). I wondered if there were any words (of more than two letters) whose letters were precisely spaced. This is the kind of thing I think about, as you'll recall if you remember the days of The Arbitrary Text Code.

So I wrote a little Ruby script to run against the word list I use for the Eater of Meaning, and it turns out there are such words! But they all have only three letters. Here they are, minus a proper name ("Stu", skip=1).

• ace (skip=2)
• din (skip=5)
• fed (skip=-1)
• fox (skip=9)
• gnu (skip=7)
• jot (skip=5)

I changed it to allow one index of slop and it found a bunch of four-letter words plus "accede" and "deeded". So not terribly interesting. I was hoping to get one really interesting solution like "nowhere/abjurer" or "terra/green" from the rot13 puzzle, so that I could say "what common English word..." like on Weekend Edition, but it is not to be. The vowels are spaced too close together. In the field of two-letter words, though, it is kind of interesting that "me" has skip=-8 and "mu" has skip=+8.

Posted by Kevan at Thu Sep 08 2005 12:05

Don't know how much you've read on this sort of thing, but Making the Alphabet Dance looks at these sorts of patterns in absolutely indigestible depth, giving the reader huge multipage-page lists of every possible word that fits some rule or other, long after you've got the idea. I'd send you my copy but I've probably lost it by now.

Posted by Ray at Fri Sep 09 2005 06:40

If plurals count, I found dins (+5)

All of your examples are either increasing or decreasing. If I loop around the end like rot13 I find keys (-6), nub (+7), ana, bob, and ere (+13). That last group could also include bobo if your dictionary includes the collected works of David Brooks. Finally, and I give up here, is mucks (+8). I didn't search 9, 11, 12.

Posted by Jeremy at Fri Sep 09 2005 13:21

May I enquire as to what "Word Problems That Turn Out Not To Be That Interesting I" was?

Posted by Leonard at Fri Sep 09 2005 14:09

That was me. I'm in Bakersfield.

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