coverOn Friday I set this puzzle….

What is special about these two sentences?

1)  I am not very happy acting pleased whenever prominent scientists overmagnify intellectual enlightenment.

2) Show this bold Prussian that praises slaughter, slaughter brings rout.

If you have not tried to solve it, have a go now.  For everyone else the answers are after the break.

1) The number of letters in each word increases by 1 on each word. I=1, am = 2, not=3 etc.

2) You can remove the first letter of each word and the sentence still makes sense!

Did you solve them?

I have produced an ebook containing 101 of the previous Friday Puzzles! It is called PUZZLED and is available for the Kindle(UK here and USA here) and on the iBookstore (UK here in the USA here). You can try 101 of the puzzles for free here.


  1. I’m happy I got these answers.

    The second one also uses all five vowels, which was my first guess; but then I thought, that’s too easy, so I kept prodding…

    1. I thought the answer was that it used 13 consonants.
      Admittedly I am an idiot.

  2. Totally baffled as i thought that both sentances were special for the same reason – note to self, never assume….

    1. A few people jumped to that conclusion, as I recall. The original wording might have suggested a solution either way (either deliberately or by chance!).

    2. Anne, you are absolutely right. The way the question was written implies that both sentences are special for the same reason. But you are wrong in that you should never assume. In order to “solve” most of these puzzles you must assume that the questions are poorly worded and that the intention is something else.

      I would say that both sentences “are engineered so as to be word games”.

    3. We could have an interesting linguistic slash philosophical debate about whether the question was poorly worded, or just ambiguously so. Such a discussion might turn to the distinction between entailment versus implicature, or to different levels of abstraction at which the answer might be summarised. My vote is that the question is fine.

      If I could offer a single hint to help people solve every Friday puzzle (not just this one), it would be to use Occam’s Razor. Start by assuming the answer is something very simple, and move on to ever wilder speculation only when you’ve tried all the simple options that come to mind. In this case, after solving the first part it is sensible to assume at first that the second part also has to do with the number of letters in each word, but when that assumption fails to bear fruit, it is sensible to try something else.

    4. I Disagree.

      Entailment is a relationship of logical necessity. If sentence A entails sentence B, B must absolutely be true in all circumstances that make A true.

      For example:
      A: My son John is an astronaut.
      B: I have a son.

      Here, A entails B. If sentence B is not true, there is no way that sentence A can be.

      Another example:
      A: I like vanilla and chocolate ice cream.
      B: I don’t like strawberry ice cream.

      Here, A does not entail B because it is possible that B is false even when A is true.

      Implicature is fuzzier kind of relationship, but has to do with what a sentence suggests without logically stating it.

      For example:
      A: I have two goldfish.
      B: I do not have a third goldfish.

      A does not entail sentence B, because somebody with three goldfish could truthfully say “I have two goldfish”. But, it would be strange. Likewise, we say that sentence B is a implicature of sentence A.

      Presuppositions are facts that are logically necessary for a statement to make sense.

      For example:
      A: Hari quit smoking.
      B: Hari used to smoke.

      A makes no sense unless B is also true.

      Entailment and presupposition are sometimes hard to separate, but it becomes clear in negative sentences.

      A: You have not met my brother.
      B: I have a brother.

      Strictly speaking, A does not entail B. If I don’t have a brother, it is true to say that you have not met my brother. And yet, A seems to presume that B is true.

      Entailment means that the truth of A absolutely positively requires B to be true.

      Implicature means that the conventional understanding of A suggests that B is true.

      Presupposition is means that in order for A to be a felicitous statement, B must be assumed to be true.

    5. Dave, the basic concepts could perhaps have been better conveyed with a link, especially since, in your enthusiasm, you forgot to relate your point back to the question, and to say what it is you disagree with.

    6. How could this stop you from getting the answer, though? If you work out one answer, you try out the rule on the other one and find it doesn’t work. Do you then think ‘my answer must be wrong ‘ or ‘The sentences must have different answers ‘?

    7. Very simple Martha – tried a few solutions, couldn’t make any of them fit, got on with the rest of my life pending getting the answer on Monday! (persistence never was my strong point!)

  3. Got the second one really easily. Couldn’t see the first one simple as it was. Resorted to exhausting my brain then searching through comments for hints, which showed me the way.
    I can’t call them spoilers though, as I don’t go looking through the comments until I’ve had a good think.

  4. The word slaughter gave me the answer to 2, I always read ‘manslaughter’ as ‘man’s laughter’ and the rest just rang out.

  5. After coming up with the answer to the second one I did a search on it – apparently it was mentioned in a New Scientist article from the end of December, 1986. So, it has quite a history.

  6. Well, I solved the first one pretty easily, and then got stuck trying to figure out a single solution that worked for both sentences.

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