Article Title

Proverb Shrinkage


Helen Gunn


In "Compression of English Text" in the May 1982 Word Ways, the editor showed how one can sometimes reconstruct text from which half the letters have been removed. If one knows that the text is a proverb, far less clueing is necessary. How little? In the following quiz, I have given the initial letters of the first three words, followed by the number of words in the phrse, such as TEB (6) = the early bird catches the worm, or OOS (6) = out of sight, out of mind. Notice that once cannot omit the third initial letter, for then Proverbs 2 and 3 are the same, as are Proverbs 20 and 21. Answers are given in Answers and Solutions at the end of the issue.