Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0020658, Sat, 4 Sep 2010 10:08:47 -0300

[NABOKOV-L] Word Golf and Steward's Scry and number/word
connections and mysteries
Selecting my first Christmas presents at a book-store, I leafed through one about Math and Games for Sudoku afficionados. The title is "Professor Steward's Hoard of Mathematical Treasures" (2009), by Ian Steward.
Inspite of the author's knowledgeable informations about the origins of numbers, measurements and babylonian entertainments, he ignored the term "word-golf".
Botkin's Index mentions "S's predilection for it,819; see Lass, while, in "Lass" we are directed to "Mass," and, in "Mass," we find "Mars, Mare, see Male." Finally, in "Male" we get "See Word Golf" (now the G is in caps).
Kinbote's entry, in relation to Shade, was inspired in his line "Playing a game of worlds." (What's an "l" added to "words", even if it makes a lot of difference in Word Golf?) He gave some examples: hate-love in three, lass-male in four, and live-deead in five (with "lend" in the middle)."

Prof. Steward describes this game under "Order in Chaos" and in a foot-note he mentions that there is no consensus related to the name for this kind of puzzle.* He warns that the word-exchange depends on keeping the same number of letters and to following the rule against exchanging the order of letters in one step only (such as CATS to CAST, instead of CATS to BATS, or CATS-CARS-CART-CAST). He invites readers to change SHIP into DOCK and ORDER into CHAOS.
From the mathematical point-of-view the matter is related to establishing webs (or graphs). He speaks of algorythms, Paul Erdos and Alfred Rényi (1960) and Steward's explanatory foot-note, related to words and mathematics, seems to bring up items that may serve the math-inclined linguists of the List.

My Xmas-present book is in Portuguese and I hesitate to translate long bits of it here. Steward's presentation opens new Nabokovian vistas of intentionalities.
A complicated word, SCRY ( crystalomancy), appears in Nabokov, if I'm not mistaken. It's related to "giant components" by Steward.

*- Some time ago, from another source about word-games, I brought up at the Nab-List two or there optional designations, never a link to Kinbote, nor to Nabokov!.

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