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What Notable Object is the Following Crossword Cluing?


grid


Across:

1. Clattering or banging, for example (5)
2. Has never been done before (8)

3. Fiery pit (4)
4. Exam solution (6)
5. Very cream of the crop (4)
6. Don't lose this while traveling (7)
7. Fruit or vegetable grown without use of chemicals (7)

8. To use as an alternative (7)
9. Immediate successor in a sequence (4)
10. Podcast invitee (5)
11. Heavy reading (10)
12. aRm joint (5)
13. Provider (8)

Down:

1. Zeal synonym
2. Requests to god
3. Required to make an omelet
4. Side of a house
5. Active and lively
6. Early form of the piano
7. Inhuman, but comes in many shapes and sizes
8. Readiness for potential problems
9. Twelve that decide the fate of man
10. Temple of diminutive size
11. Unit of precipitation
12. Open framework used to support elevated structures
13. Long-term artillery barrage


Hint:

-1 Across: Interstellar ichthys makes leading lady end newborn and chop up his father's head

Advice for solving (Massive Hints):

Try solving the across clues first using the length in parenthesis, not in the grid.

Why is the formatting for across so weird?

When can the same word have more than one length?

What is the significance of the crossed-out letter?

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  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I think I finally see what is going on in the across clues - rot13(gur vavgvny yrggref bs gur Ratyvfu nafjref gb gurfr fcryy AB UNOYB VATYRF - Abvfr/Bevtvany Uryy/Nafjre/Orfg/Yhttntr/Betnavp V....../Arkg/Thrfg/Yvgrengher/Ryobj/Fhccyvre - fb V fhfcrpg gur nafjref arrq gb or jevggra va n qvssrerag ynathntr. Fcnavfu qbrfa'g frrz gb jbex; creuncf vg'f n qvssrerag ynathntr sbe rnpu dhrfgvba, cbffvoyl ortvaavat jvgu gur vavgvny yrggre bs gur pyhr. V abgr gung Ryobj va Ebznavna vf PBG, naq bgure vavgvnyf yraq gurzfryirf avpryl gb Serapu, Vgnyvna, Cbeghthrfr, rgp.) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Dec 6, 2021 at 17:15

2 Answers 2

12
+50
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The notable object is ...

... the Rosetta Stone

This crossword is "incomprehensible", because ...

... the across answers seem off. We can find reasonable words for the down entries, but the across entries have two word lengths: One in the grid and one in brackets after the clue. Clearly, there's something going on.

The hint ...

... is useful and is a cryptic clue. Narushiteli has solved it in a comment to a now deleted answer.

Babelfish = BABE (newborn?) + L(ady) + anagram of (HIS F(ather's))

The Babelfish is an animal from The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which one can put in one's ear and have it translate everything. (Sneaky way to get rid of subtitles.) Babelfish was also the nme of one of the first online translators. (I believe it was a precursor to the boringly named Google Translate.)

We can start with ...

... the across answers. The numbers in brackets provide the length:

 1. Clattering or banging, for example   5 NOISE
 2. Has never been done before           8 ORIGINAL
 3. Fiery pit                            4 HELL
 4. Exam solution                        8 ANSWER
 5. Very cream of the crop               4 BEST
 6. Don't lose this while traveling      7 LUGGAGE
 7. Fruit or vegetable quality           7 ORGANIC
 8. To use as an alternative             7 IMPLACE
 9. Immediate successor                  4 NEXT
10. Podcast invitee                      5 GUEST
11. Heavy reading                       10 LITERATURE
12. -a-Rm joint                          5 ELBOW
13. Provider                             8 SUPPLIER

The first letters of these answers spell No hablo Ingles, which is "I don't speak English" in Spanish. (Stiv has found the acrostic.) So we are looking for an answer in another language or other languages.

So ...

... let's see. HELL, for example, is enfer in French. If we enter it in the grid, we see, that the thing needed for an omelet, which surely must be eggs, ends in F. The French word for egg, oeuf, conveniently ends in an F. But the answers aren't all in French.

Each numbered across and down clue is written in another language. We can find out which by looking at the first letters of the across and down clues. No. 3 is "Fiery pit" and "Required to make an omelet", which gives fr = France, where French is spoken. (The codes are not ISO language codes, but country codes; we have va for Vatican, which is used for Latin.)

(I'll ignore all ligatures and diacritics from now on and demote all letters to their Latin base form, even if that means that I'll have to write "Gepack", which I can't do lightly.)

Now, the across answers are:

 1. Clattering or banging, for example   5 NOISE      4 HLUK (cz)
 2. Has never been done before           8 ORIGINAL   8 IZVORNIK (hr)
 3. Fiery pit                            4 HELL       5 ENFER (fr)
 4. Exam solution                        8 ANSWER     9 RESPUESTA (es)
 5. Very cream of the crop               4 BEST       7 OPTIMUM (va)
 6. Don't lose this while traveling      7 LUGGAGE    6 GEPACK (de)
 7. Fruit or vegetable quality           7 ORGANIC   15 LUONNONMUKAINEN (fi)
 8. To use as an alternative             7 IMPLACE    6 YERINI (tr)
 9. Immediate successor                  4 NEXT       8 PROSSIMO (it)
10. Podcast invitee                      5 GUEST      7 HOSPEDE (pt)
11. Heavy reading                       10 LITERATURE 8 IRODALOM (hu)
12. -a-Rm joint                          5 ELBOW      3 COT (ro)
13. Provider                             8 SUPPLIER   8 DOSTAWCA (pl)

The down clues ...

... can now be solved. (Thanks to richardb, who filled in the last blanks in comments.)

 1. Zeal                                 4 ELAN         ELAN (cz)
 2. Requests to god                      7 PRAYER       MOLITVA (hr)
 3. Required to make an omelet           4 EGG          OEUF (fr)
 4. Sides of a house                     5 WALLS        TAPIA (es)
 5. Active and lively                    7 VIVID        IMPIGER (va)
 6. Early form of the piano              7 HARPSICHORD  CEMBALO (de)
 7. Inhuman, but comes in many ...       5 BEAST        ELAIN (fi)
 8. Readiness for potential problem      6 CAUTION      TEDBIR (tr)
 9. Twelve that decide the fate of man   6 JURY         GIURIA (it)
10. Temple                               9 RELIQUARY    RELICARIO (pt)
11. Unit of precipitation                8 RAINFALL     ESOCSEPP (hu)
12. Open framework used to support ...   8 SCAFFOLD     ESTACADA (ro)
13. Long-term artillery barrage          8 CANNONADE    KANONADA (pl)

The completed grid ...

                                E
            Y E R I N I       H L U K
              L             M   A
        G E P A C K   I Z V O R N I K   R
        I     I             L           E
      L U O N N O N M U K A I N E N     L
        R                   T           I
        I     O             V           C O T
        A   R E S P U E S T A           A
              U           A         I   R       C
      K   E N F E R     O P T I M U M   I       E
      A         S         I         P R O S S I M O
      N         O         A         E           B
    D O S T A W C A             E   G           A
      N   E     S           H O S P E D E       L
      A   D     E               T   R           O
      D   B     P               A
      A   I     P               C
          R             I R O D A L O M
                                D
                                A

The grid entries ...

... are another acrostic. In the order they appear in the list of clues, they spell out Hieroglyphic Demotic et Greek.

This is a reference to the Rosetta Stone, a stele found near the Egyptian city of Memphis. It has nearly identical versions of the same text in Egyptian Hieroglyphic srcipt, in Egyptian Demotic script and in Greek, which made it possible to decipher the Egyptian scripts.

Well, let's just say that Google Translate is a modern version of the Rosetta stone. (And a primitive form ob Babelfish.)

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  • $\begingroup$ Looking great so far! A small hint for one thing I noticed: rot13(Zra ner abg nyjnlf gur orfg ng rirelguvat.) $\endgroup$
    – Surma
    Dec 6, 2021 at 21:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I can probably cut to the answer from that. Major spoiler, probably rot 13(Uvrebtylcuvp Qrzbgvp juvpu zvtug zrna jr ner fbzrjurer arne Zrzcuvf) $\endgroup$
    – richardb
    Dec 6, 2021 at 22:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Full set of grid entries rot13(UYHX VMIBEAVX RASRE ERFCHRFGN BCGVZNR TRCNPX YHBAABAZHXNVARA LREVAV CEBFFVZB UBFCRQR VEBQNYBZ PBG QBFGNJPN RYNA ZBYVGIN BRHS GNCVN VZCVTRE PRZONYB RYNVA GRQOVE TVHEVN ERYVPNEVB RFBPFRCC RFGNPNQN XNABANQN) $\endgroup$
    – richardb
    Dec 6, 2021 at 23:24
  • $\begingroup$ Nice! Hopefully you enjoyed solving it! $\endgroup$
    – Surma
    Dec 7, 2021 at 13:34
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @LOTGP Thanks. Yes, that was a well constructed puzzle whose secrets revealed themselves slowly with several aha moments on the way. I had looked at this earlier, but I saw what's going on only after the cryptic clue was solved. The actual solving got a bit tedious at times. It's hard to find the correct word sometimes. But that's just a quibble. Well done on a good multi-step puzzle! $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Dec 7, 2021 at 14:06
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Partial answer

Crossword:

I believe the length of the words to place in the grid does not really matter (at least in the beginning), mainly because some words seemed a bit far-fetched and the hint suggests we shouldn’t pay attention to the number of letters first. Moreover, I couldn’t find any fitting word with 9 letters for “temple of diminutive size,” which can only be a chapel, as far as I know. So I just chose words that are most likely to fit the clues.

filled out crossword puzzle

red: overlapping letters
green: letters that don’t fit in the grid
yellow: empty spaces

A1: noise
A2: original
A3: hell
A4: answer
A5: excellent
A6: luggage
A7: organic
A8: substitute
A9: next
A10: guest
A11: tome
A12: elbow
A13: supplier

D1: zest
D2: prayers
D3: egg
D4: wall
D5: energetic
D6: harpsichord
D7: animal
D8: courage
D9: judges
D10: chapel
D11: millimeters
D12: scaffold
D13: drumfire

Hint 1:

The hint sounds “incomprehensible,” as the title of the question states, but it might give us some important clues, e.g.
Interstellar ichthys (Pisces constellation)
causes leading lady (actress; independent woman)
end newborn (kill the baby; raise the child)
and chop up (destroy or get rid of)
his father’s head. (father’s leading role or his intentions)

This is just a wild guess, but maybe the puzzle has something to do with astrology and emancipation. It also reminds me of a science fiction story, involving an alienlike creature and a lot of violence. What’s interesting is that the crossword uses some negatively connotated words as well, such as “drumfire,” “animal,” “hell,” or “noise.” The hint should give us a clue as to what the notable object we are looking for is.

Hint 2:

We should solve the “Across” clues first, without paying attention to the number of letters. This is what I did when filling out the grid.

Hint 3:

You can make the same word have a different length by forming the plural, e.g. elbow (5 letters) → elbows (6 letters). I’m not sure how this will help solving the puzzle.

Hint 4:

The “a” of “arm joint” (clue A12) is crossed out and the “R” is uppercase. This perhaps means we have to remove the “e” from “elbow” and capitalize the “l,” which gives us “Lbow.” Unfortunately, I have no idea what that might mean.

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    $\begingroup$ Hmm... I'm not fully convinced in the value of this partial 'answer' - there's really no measurable progress here, just loose ideas. This doesn't - for example - address why the enumerations of the Across clues don't match up to the spaces available in the grid image, or even attempt to place any of the suggestions actually in the grid. As this stands, it's just a list of words... $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Dec 5, 2021 at 14:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Look at the numbers in brackets at the end of the clues - compare these to the image :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Dec 5, 2021 at 16:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Vicky I always use Paint.NET to edit images. $\endgroup$
    – user47620
    Dec 5, 2021 at 20:59
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ -1 across is (rot13 onorysvfu) -- is standard cryptic clue $\endgroup$ Dec 6, 2021 at 15:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Let us continue this discussion in chat. $\endgroup$
    – user47620
    Dec 6, 2021 at 16:09

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