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An entry into the 20th fortnightly topic challenge


What are these lists of words trying to point to?

Boot percentage jee, tee afternoon dee few
Mouth ohm thenceforth mother offends see Earth
Tee taste lack ɘ pre eff gist
Mix right he is a digit desists

Book dollar key, why morning see couple
Nose I'm thence father offend bee Venus
Why smell lake ɚ post dee fist
Mixes left she is the number resists

Loot pound lee, you pm bee one
Ear em then uncle off flat-bee Mercury
You sight lick ɵ before es dist
Mixing down you are a letter desist

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The answer is

SISTER

Because, as others have pointed out:

The puzzle hints at a fourth stanza made up of words formed by following the pattern for each parallel set of words in the first three.

The missing stanza, borrowing heavily from Alconja but with some key corrections, is:

Look at me I am a nun
I am the aunt of a son
I sound like ə after a cyst
Mixed up I am the word resist

The final solution:

A nun is a sister.
If you have a son, your sister is his aunt.   — Thanks @Gareth!
Phonetically, "cyst" + ə (actually ə r) would sound like sister.
And sister is an anagram of resist


The gory details

First line:

$\small\begin{array}{lll} \phantom{XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX}\\\text{- Boot,Book,Loot → Look}&&\text{first letter doubles, b/b/l/l; last letter alternates t/k/t/k}\\ \text{- percentage,dollar,pound → at}&&\text{names of top row symbols on QWERTY,}\\ &&\ \ \ \ \text{in order backward from shift-5 to shift-2}\\ \text{- jee,kee,lee → mee⇒me}&&\text{{j/k/l/m letter run}+“ee”, then made into a word}\\ \text{- afternoon,morning,pm → am}&&\text{afternoon:morning :: pm:am}\\ \text{- dee,see,bee → a}&&\text{d/c/b/a letter run}\\ \text{- few,couple,one → none⇒nun}&&\text{3/2/1/0 sequence as words, then homophoned}\end{array}$

Second line:

$\small\begin{array}{lll} \phantom{XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX}\\\text{- Mouth,Nose,Ear → Eye⇒I}&&\text{parts of the face, then homophoned}\\ \text{- ohm,I'm,em → am}&&\text{{o/i/e/a (reverse) vowel sequence}+“m”}\\ \text{- thenceforth,thence,then → the}&&\text{incremental truncations that still form words}\\ \text{- mother,father,uncle → aunt}&&\text{male and female words for types of relatives}\\&&\ \ \ \ \text{(better might be father:mother :: uncle:aunt)}\\ \text{- offends,offend,off → of}&&\text{incremental truncations that still form words}\\ \text{- see,bee,flat-bee → a}&&\text{sequence of musical half-tones, C, B, B♭, A}\\ \text{- Earth,Venus,Mercury → Sun⇒son}&&\text{Solar System from Earth inward, then homophoned}\end{array}$

Third line:

$\small\begin{array}{lll} \phantom{XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX}\\\text{- Tee,Why,You → I}&&\text{(homophones for) 2nd row QWERTY letters t/y/u/i}\\&&\ \ \ \ \text{(previously was “Why,You,Oh”, an error)}\\ \text{- taste,smell,sight → sound}&&\text{senses. (It would have been more symmetric if the senses}\\&&\ \ \ \ \text{were aligned with the parts of the face from line 2,}\\&&\ \ \ \ \text{but it certainly isn't a flaw that they're not)}\\ \text{- lack,lake,lick → like}&&\text{“l”+{alternating short vowel/long vowel sounds, ă/ā/ĭ/ī}}\\&&\ \ \ \ \text{+{alternating ck/ke/ck/ke}}\\ \text{- ɘ,ɚ,ɵ → ə}&&\text{‘e’-like IPA (pronunciation) symbols}\\ \text{- pre,post,before → after}&&\text{pre:post :: before:after}\\ \text{- eff,dee,es → a}&&\text{home row QWERTY letters in backward order f/d/s/a}\\&&\ \ \ \ \text{(note: “es” s/b “ess”? ...was originally “see”, an error)}\\ \text{- gist,fist,dist → sist⇒cyst}&&\text{{home row QWERTY letters in backward order g/f/d/s}}\\&&\ \ \ \ \text{+“ist”, then made into a word}\end{array}$

Fourth line:

$\small\begin{array}{lll} \phantom{XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX}\\\text{- Mix,Mixes,Mixing → Mixed}&&\text{tenses of “to mix”}\\ \text{- right,left,down → up}&&\text{directional words; right:left :: down:up}\\ \text{- he,she,you → I}&&\text{singular pronouns, progressing from}\\&&\ \ \ \ \text{3rd person to 2nd person to 1st person}\\ \text{- is,is,are → am}&&\text{conjugation of “to be” for the preceding pronoun}\\ \text{- a,the,a → the}&&\text{articles, alternating between a/the/a/the}\\ \text{- digit,number,letter → word}&&\text{digit:number :: letter:word}\\ \text{- desists,resists,desist → resist}&&\text{first letter alternates d/r/d/r;}\\&&\ \ \ \ \text{first two are inflected, second two are not s/s/ / }\end{array}$

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  • $\begingroup$ Two things to go: daughter is not right, and neither is exist. The 'you' in the third line is also not correct but is inconsequential. $\endgroup$ – boboquack Nov 21 '16 at 2:02
  • $\begingroup$ For sist, I used the word cyst (or cist in some alternative spellings). $\endgroup$ – boboquack Nov 21 '16 at 2:07
  • $\begingroup$ not getting the relations relations :) I think I'm missing something for that one word. $\endgroup$ – Rubio Nov 21 '16 at 2:12
  • $\begingroup$ If you have a son, your sister is his aunt. $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Nov 21 '16 at 2:13
  • $\begingroup$ @GarethMcCaughan Thanks! Figured it'd be something stupidly simple that I miss. hehe $\endgroup$ – Rubio Nov 21 '16 at 2:16
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Partial answer (more of reasoning aloud in an attempt to help other solvers):

Each word from each verse, when taken with its counterparts from the other verses, form a sort of sequence. I'm assuming that putting together all the logical 'next steps' in each sequence will hint to the answer.

For instance:

Boot -> Book -> Loot -> Look?

And:

percentage -> dollar -> pound -> at (symbols on a keyboard, I didn't get it because my keyboard's symbol for 3 is #)
jee -> key -> lee -> mee? (j, k, l, m)
tee -> why -> you -> i (t, y, u, i on a keyboard)
afternoon -> morning -> pm -> am?
dee -> see -> bee -> a (d, c, b, a)
few -> couple -> one -> zero

As @Alconja pointed out, the first line of the "clue" should then read:

Look at me I am a zero.

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Partial answer....

Each word in each list transforms from one group to the next, hinting at a fourth list, which is actually a riddle of sorts.

For example:

First words in each group are "Boot" => "Book" => "Loot" => ?? hinting at "Look" (first letters follow the pattern B, B, L, L and last letters follow T, K, T, K)

Using similar logic, we get something like:

Look at me. I am a zero(?)
I am the ??? of a son.
You ??? (probably 'sound') like ??? after ??? sist ('assist' based on the sequences)-
mixed up I am a character (guessing 'word') resist

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  • $\begingroup$ I had exactly the same idea but you got quite a bit further than I did with the same logic. Darn. $\endgroup$ – Xenocacia Nov 21 '16 at 1:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Xenocacia - great minds and all that... :) $\endgroup$ – Alconja Nov 21 '16 at 1:15

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