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The answer is two words (12 letters) which describe a pH table in a cryptic sort of way.

A pH Table

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1 Answer 1

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A pH table can be described cryptically as:

ALPHABET SOUP!

To find this, we need to...

...systematically pair up each of the letters or words in the list at the top (RA, RE, PART, S, B, BAT, Z, AN, SIX, BOAR, COUNT, P) with one of the letters or words that have been written alongside the numbers in the pH scale diagram (IN, T, TEEN, AIR, H, ALL, D, FLUX, Y, HADE, RY, ONE).

How? By creating words that can then further be matched up with one of ACID, NEUTRAL or BASE to give real-world phrases, as follows:

(ACID) [RA]IN (1)
(ACID) [RE]FLUX (8)
(NEUTRAL) [PART]Y (8)
(NEUTRAL) [S]HADE (9)
(BASE)[B]ALL (6)
(ACID) [BAT]H (5)
(NEUTRAL) [Z]ONE (11)
[AN]T(ACID) (3)
(BASE) [SIX]TEEN (3)
(BASE)[BOAR]D (6)
(NEUTRAL) [COUNT]RY (10)
(BASE) [P]AIR (5)

Here, the words from the list at the top are indicated in square brackets, and the numbers in parentheses represent the pH value corresponding to the words presented beside the pH scale.

We now need to extract some letters from these 12 discovered phrases to produce the final 12-letter answer (one from each) - and there's a simple method that presents itself:

Index into each phrase according to the pH number in parentheses - i.e. for ACID RAIN take the letter in position 1 (A), for ACID REFLUX take the letter in position 8 (L), etc. Doing so in the same order as the original list gives us:

[A]CID RAIN, ACID REF[L]UX, NEUTRAL [P]ARTY, NEUTRAL S[H]ADE, BASEB[A]LL, ACID [B]ATH, NEUTRAL ZON[E], AN[T]ACID, BA[S]E SIXTEEN, BASEB[O]ARD, NEUTRAL CO[U]NTRY, BASE [P]AIR.

This spells out ALPHABET SOUP.

Why is the answer 'in a cryptic sort of way'? Because...

'ALPHABET' is an anagram of 'A PH TABLE', so if 'soup' can be considered an anagram indicator then we have a traditional cryptic crossword clue, where 'ALPHABET SOUP' might cryptically clue the phrase 'A PH TABLE'!

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