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The Connection between Crossword Puzzles and Semantics

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  1. Introduction
  2. The history of the puzzle
  3. The popularity of crosswords
  4. Crossword clue types
  5. Semantic fields of importance
  6. Word meaning and prototype semantics
  7. Word meaning and pragmatics
  8. The role of polysemy in creating ambiguities
  9. Crossword puzzles and artificial intelligence
  10. Cognitive semantics
  11. Conclusion
  12. References

When a person sits down to work on a crossword puzzle the thought probably does not cross their mind that they are calling on various forms of linguistic knowledge in solving the crossword clues. The majority of basic language knowledge and usage is an unconscious phenomenon. It has been said that people ?take language for granted because it comes so quickly and automatically.? As a result of this unconscious nature of language people rarely give consideration to the actual linguistic process of how they answer the questions that crossword clues pose. However, to anyone who studies linguistics, it seems obvious that there is a connection between crossword puzzles and semantics.

[...] Where crossword puzzles are concerned, pragmatics can be viewed as the ability of the solver to interpret correctly the meaning or sense the constructor had in mind when writing a clue. When a clue appears as a single word without other words to give it a context, the puzzle itself can be thought of as the context. Oftentimes, even a multi-word clue can leave open more than one interpretation of the meaning or sense of the clue and this is part of the art of writing clues. [...]

[...] A lot says Michigan Tech grad and linguist. Electronic document,, accessed October Gramley, Stephan 2001 The Vocabulary of World English. New York: Oxford University Press Inc. Kurzban, Stan and Mel Rosen 1981 The Compleat Cruciverbalist Or How to Solve and Compose Crossword Puzzles for Fun and Profit. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company McKean, Erin 2001 Verbatim. New York: Harcourt, Inc. Pinker, Steven 1994 The Language Instinct. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc. Pinker, Steven 1999 Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language. New York: [...]

[...] The Popularity of Crosswords The growth in popularity of crossword puzzles that began in 1924 never did let up and even inspired the writing of a number of songs about crosswords in the late 1920's. ?Cross Word Puzzle Blues,? Cross Word Mamma You Puzzle Me (But Papa's Gonna Figure You ?Since Ma's Gone Crazy Over Cross Word Puzzles,? and Cross Words Between Sweetie and are a few that editor Will Shortz has in his collection of sheet music. Today crossword puzzles are considered the most popular stationary activity next to television viewing. [...]

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