The Stickler Weekly 128 Solution

A few weeks back I was looking through a local crossword and came across this clue: Dawn is grieving without you (7) (SMH 18/4 by LR)
I was taken back instantly to my early cluing days where I didn’t realise (why, I don’t know, as I’d never seen such cluing in any decent publication) an appropriate homophone indicator was needed to convert YOU to U. It’s common practice in cryptics designed for the entry-level or non-cryptic solver, as rules don’t seem to matter so much, since providing solvers with an easy path to the answer is more important than building a set of cryptic-solving tools than can be applied to all cryptics.
Many will be aware that The Chambers English Dictionary is seen as the crossworder’s bible, largely due to its comprehensive coverage and concise definitions that often contain synonyms (great for setting and solving). It carries baggage though, due to its heritage, and has a bad habit of including words and definitions that no other references have. These aren’t so good, as such inclusions need to confirmed elsewhere before using them as answers or in clues. When I first started cluing “it’s in Chambers” was my catchcry (along with many other setters), and I’m sure this frustrated lots of solvers who felt one-off words or definitions gave them little chance of deriving or finding answers. The Chambers English Dictionary is one of the few to actually spell out SOME letters of the alphabet, and so these spellings were considered fair game in the early days for me. Some letters are spelt out usually to represent their shape, like “DEE” for “D” or “ESS” for “S”, but for the most part letters aren’t spelt despite their inclusion in some dictionaries. (Chambers also spells “C” as “CEE” and “SEE” – how confusing). Even in Chambers there’s no spelling of “U”, so is there any case where an unindicated “YOU” can equal “U”?
Here’s where it gets interesting: communicating via a mobile phone or posting in Twitter has generated an abbreviated language that certain sections of society, and particularly younger age-groups, see as “normal” and at least equivalent to long-form language. Terms have materialised (like BTW, IMO, LOL, FAQ and FYI) that have been used enough to be accepted into dictionaries and turn up in everyday language, especially written language. On the whole, though, apart from some of these “new terms”, there’s a contextual issue that has to be recognised, and a general usage issue that has to be considered. U = YOU is not uncommon in abbreviated text-speak, but it’s rarely seen outside that realm, so how acceptable is the reverse (YOU = U) in a cryptic crossword clue? I would imagine most of the cryptic-solving fraternity are not aware of this link (assuming that’s what the setter is relying on here) and would simply consider YOU = U without a homophonic indicator as just poor form. So, what’s the verdict, Stickler solvers?

PS. It seems I stumped a few with 2-down’s cryptic definition. They are always troublesome.

Across Answers and Clues Explanations
1 PIT STOPS
Sees suggestion about breaks for travellers (3,5) (SPOTS + TIP) reversed
5 RAFFIA
A fellow in fair organised material for a weaver (6) (A + F) inside anagram of FAIR
9 GIGABYTE
Boy, extremely involved in musical performance, consumed a lot of information? (8) (B)O(Y) inside (GIG + ATE)
10 ELISHA
Prophet’s text, referenced in novel, is handwritten (6) novEL IS HAndwritten
12 OPTIC
A copyist perversely losing, say, an eye (5) Anagram of A COPYIST minus SAY
13 HUE AND CRY
Handy cure wrongly generated loud public protest (3,3,3) Anagram of HANDY CURE
14 BOMBER JACKET
Mob brought back sailor wearing cap and coat (6,6) MOB reversed + (JACK inside BERET)
17 INCONSOLABLE
Beaten Bosnian colonel, not holding on, is sick at heart (12) Anagram of BOSNIAN COLONEL minus ON
22 GRATIFIED
Pleased with $1000 formally approved and invested with legal authority (9) G + RATIFIED
23 NITRO
Explosive gas released by unsettled organist (5) Anagram of ORGANIST minis GAS
24 REPAIR
Fix centre section of screen to bracket (6) SC(RE)EN + PAIR
25 LOSE TIME
Work too slowly with duck prepared in lime (4,4) (O + SET) inside LIME
26 ENRAGE
General greatly disguised anger (6) Anagram of (GENERA)L
27 FLOTILLA
Group in charge moored alongside a craft (8) LOT inside FILL + A
 Down  Answers and Clues Explanations
1 PIGEON
Greedy person cooked one bird (6) PIG + anagram of ONE
2 TIGHTS
Hose dressers down after use? (6) Cryptic Definition
3 TOBACCO
Boat at sea caught cod mostly – it’s smoked (7) Anagram of BOAT + C + (CO)D
4 PUT THE BOOT IN
Jeer, coming after golf shot by male, can be demoralising (3,3,4,2) BOO after (PUTT + HE) + TIN
6 ATLANTA
Old Olympic city and a part of Australia found in abridged atlas (7) (A + NT) inside (ATLA)S
7 FISH CAKE
Is a chef worried about cook’s ultimate seafood patty? (4,4) Anagram of IS A CHEF outside COO(K)
8 ANALYSTS
They examine any stone containing aluminium and sulphur (8) (ANY + ST) outside AL + S
11 HEART AND SOUL
Listen to adult son treated with complete sincerity (5,3,4) HEAR + anagram of ADULT SON
15 LINGERIE
Cover for one contemplating retirement that is available after delay (8) IE after LINGER
16 SCRAPPER
Axe for a fighter (8) SCRAP + PER
18 NAILING
Builder’s work evaluation’s ending poorly (7) EVALUATIO(N) + AILING
19 LENIENT
Gentle German’s denial overturned in court decision (7) NEIN reversed inside LET
20 AT WILL
When one chooses a woven fabric (2,4) A + TWILL
21 NOVENA
Small number arranged nave for prayerful devotion (6) NO + anagram of NAVE

 

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5 Responses to The Stickler Weekly 128 Solution

  1. Arthur Maynard says:

    I have been waiting all week for confirmation of 2 down. I worked out tights, and decided that it was derived through those who dress take them down after wear. Is thisin accord with your thinking?

    • David Stickley says:

      Yes. Correct. Playing on the term “hose…down” and the lesser-used meaning of “hose”, and using “down” to mean “to take down”. CDs can often lead to disappointment as they rely on interpretation alone as a device of sorts. Consider it the “right” way first-up and it’s a straightforward clue; consider it the wrong way and perhaps never reconcile it.

  2. Steve Ball says:

    YOU = U is poor form.

    I was stumped by 2 down.

    Steve = : ^ )

  3. Grant Dyer says:

    Emerging language has probably always been a matter of contention with setters & solvers. YOU = U has no built in indicator, but the bulk of text speak is probably inevitable. I think most solvers would recognize the acronym forms.
    Interesting side line. David, what do you think is the average age of your readers and cryptic solvers in general?

    • David Stickley says:

      Yes, Grant, there is a sense that abbreviated language is taking over, but at what point does a particular substitution become nationally/globally accepted enough to be usable in cryptics? My kids abbreviate everything, and use phonetics in text-speak, but I can’t be sure of widespread acceptance until dictionaries say so, just like with other words and terms. And age is a crucial component: on one side we have the bulk who are seniors, and certainly not text-speak savvy, and the rest are on the other side, with a mixture of abbreviated knowledge. One thing I’ve mentioned before is that is a clue with traditional abbreviations is far more likely to be accessible to the younger generations than the other way round.

      David