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My friend is so old-school. He gave me the list below of phrases that he calls Inefficient Phrases™, which, by the way, are totally unrelated to Efficient Phrases™, and all other types of Phrases™ that were the subject of previous puzzles.

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What makes a phrase an Inefficient Phrase™, and why are they called that?

(Note: If someone posts the correct answer to the first part of the question, and then later someone else correctly explains why the phrases are called Inefficient, both will be up-voted, but that someone else will get the tick mark.)


EDIT: Here are some examples to show that the "5 pairs" answer by GentlePurpleRain is not exactly it:

The following examples are Not Inefficient Phrases™
1. SPORTSCASTER PODCASTS
2. ANTHROPOLOGISTS ARE OPPORTUNISTIC
3. MONOPOLISTIC TOPOLOGISTS
Each of the 3 examples above has 7 pairs of letters that are adjacent in the alphabet

On the other hand, the following examples are Inefficient Phrases™, yet they have zero pairs of adjacent letters.
1. MOMS PROMOTE
2. GIG CARPS
3. SPRY CAMPS


In response to Mauris's comment, here's a plaintext version of the picture of the table:

Inefficient Phrases, Not Inefficient Phrases
DEBUTED TONIGHT, LAUNCHED THIS EVENING
TUTORS SPOONFED, TEACHERS HELP TOO MUCH
BABIED BABOONS, PAMPERED MONKEYS
DEACON CHIDED, MINISTER SCOLDED
COMMONERS FEUDED, CIVILIANS FOUGHT
SCARFED ABALONE, ATE SEA SNAILS
HIGHEST LONGITUDE, MAXIMUM EAST-WEST POINT
PREFERS MONOSPACED, LIKES FIXED-WIDTH
AUTUMN BACKLIGHT, FALL BACKGROUND
CONFEDERACY PROMOTERS, SECESSION ADVOCATE
DEFACERS ABATED, VANDALS DECREASED
CABBAGE SPROUTED, BRASSICA OLERACEA GREW
BANDED SPIDERS, STRIPED ARACHNIDS
DEFEATS DEMONS, CONQUERS DEVILS
DELIGHTED DONORS, HAPPY CONTRIBUTOR
SPEEDERS ABSCONDED, RACERS FLED
DEFENSE CUTBACK, PROTECTION REDUCTION
ABANDONED HIGHWAY, DESERTED ROAD
HONORS DELIGHT, RECOGNITION PLEASES

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    $\begingroup$ Hrm - HAPPY CONTRIBUTOR instead of HAPPY CONTRIBUTORS? Intriguing. $\endgroup$ Jul 8, 2015 at 7:25
  • $\begingroup$ @No.7892142 Yep, for consistency, I should have (and could have) put an S on it! $\endgroup$
    – JLee
    Jul 8, 2015 at 15:26
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe it's easier to find the pattern than to describe the reason it's called inefficient? $\endgroup$
    – Bob
    Jul 8, 2015 at 15:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Bob Maybe, but the pattern hasn't been found. Something similar to the pattern has been found. The first sentence is a clue. $\endgroup$
    – JLee
    Jul 8, 2015 at 15:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think it's something related to keyboard layout, that efficient phrases(tm) do not require your fingers move too much. $\endgroup$
    – Voitcus
    Jul 9, 2015 at 6:51

2 Answers 2

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An Inefficient Phrase™ is one in which all of its words, when typed out using a standard phone keypad, have 50% or more of their adjacent letters in the same group*.

*A group is the letters associated with the numbers 2 through 9 on a standard phone keypad. So, there are 8 groups in total.

It was a degree more difficult (or took longer) to write text messages with old phones which used these pads, because you needed to wait a short amount of time (or press a button on more recent older phones) if you wanted to type out another letter in the same set as the previous letter.

For example, COMMONERS would require you to tap: 222 666 [WAIT] 6 [WAIT] 6 [WAIT] 666 [WAIT] 6 33 777 [WAIT] 7777, while typing CIVILIANS would require: 222 444 888 444 555 444 2 66 7777 (with no breaks in between). It should also be noted that from learning to type this way over time, you could write messages very quickly as long as you didn't require pausing to enter a letter in the same set as the previous.

It's inefficient because you have to pause/break your flow of typing many times to type out the letters which are in the same set that exist in the Inefficient Phrases™, as opposed to finding another word with more spaced out lettering which could be punched in faster.

Mobile phone keypad

If you look at the inefficient words combined with the "old school" clue..

  • [DE]B[UT][ED] T[ON][IGH]T
  • [TUT]O[RS] [SP][OON][FED]
  • [BAB]I[ED] [BAB][OON]S
  • [DEFE]A[TS] [DE][MON]S
  • [DE][AC][ON] C[HI][DED]
  • C[OMMON]E[RS] [FE]U[DED]
  • S[CA]R[FED] [ABA]L[ON]E
  • [SPR]Y [CA]M[PS]

etc.

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  • $\begingroup$ Added a bit more clarity, if it helps! $\endgroup$
    – Sean
    Jul 9, 2015 at 13:45
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    $\begingroup$ The more I look at it, the more I feel it has to do with the regularity of having to press the same number, rather than a requisite of at least 3 characters. $\endgroup$
    – Sean
    Jul 9, 2015 at 13:48
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe you have to count the pairs of letters in each phrase that require the same key? So for DEBUTED TONIGHT, it would be 6 - DE, UT, ED, ON, IG, GH. $\endgroup$
    – Bailey M
    Jul 9, 2015 at 13:51
  • $\begingroup$ Refined my answer. It seems like there are no two adjacent letters which are followed by, or follow, a letter in the same letter group. $\endgroup$
    – Sean
    Jul 9, 2015 at 14:02
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    $\begingroup$ I am still dazzled by the insight that led to this answer. It completely eluded me, and I own such a phone! $\endgroup$ Aug 12, 2015 at 17:14
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Each Inefficient Phrase™ has at least five pairs of letters that are adjacent in the alphabet.

e.g. [DE]B[UT][ED] T[ON]I[GH]T
[TU]TO[RS] S[PO][ON][FED]

As for why they're called "inefficient," I'll leave that for someone else to figure out.

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  • $\begingroup$ Good find, and on the right track. Keep going... $\endgroup$
    – JLee
    Jul 7, 2015 at 18:31
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm... Most, but not all, seem to have a construct of the form ABA, where A and B are adjacent letters of the alphabet. Many also have groups of four letters that consist of 3 alphabet-adjacent letters (with one repeated) e.g. HIGH (G,H,I are adjacent in the alphabet). $\endgroup$ Jul 7, 2015 at 18:38
  • $\begingroup$ maybe it's inefficient to try and encrypt them, since the letters repeat like ABA so often? $\endgroup$
    – Nyk 232
    Jul 7, 2015 at 18:41
  • $\begingroup$ wait: What about "Minister scolded"? It's got a DED set. $\endgroup$
    – Nyk 232
    Jul 7, 2015 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Nyk232, I don't think the "not inefficient phrases" are precluded from having those constructs -- they just don't have them to the same degree. My original answer stated that every word in the phrase must have two pairs. "Minister scolded" doesn't fit that definition. $\endgroup$ Jul 7, 2015 at 18:45

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