10
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Whom does the poem describe?

I'm understood by pairs of trained eyes

For all the rest I'm nothing but lines

I can be copied, and still I'll be me

I can live on paper, on tongues, perhaps a CD

Hints

1

How would you feel if I referred to you as 'humanity'?

2

Whom does the poem describe?

3

The simplest answer is the right one. (Simple for whom?)

4 (extra verse)

Was four, am six, I'm very concrete

You're probably staring at the thing I depict

Note The first hint is a response to answers given, specifically @Xenocacia's, it doesn't stand well on it's own. Sorry if this caused confusion

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Comments are for comments, not answers; answers-in-comments have been deleted. For future reference, this riddle was really much Too Broad until the final hint was given. If a hint is effectively required for anyone not inside your head to solve the puzzle then it's not a "hint", it's an essential part of the puzzle--and in many cases is the only thing preventing your puzzle from being "guess what specific thing I'm thinking of". $\endgroup$ – Rubio Nov 23 '17 at 16:16

18 Answers 18

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It describes:

Music!

I'm understood by pairs of trained eyes

Musical notation can be read by people who know how to, while to laymen it is just a bunch of funny symbols on lines.

For all the rest I'm nothing but lines

See above

I can be copied, and still I'll be me

Music can be played over and over again by different people trying to copy the original artist/ composer, and it will still always be music

I can live on paper, on tongues, perhaps a CD

Music can be written down on paper, people can remember it and keep singing it, and of course it used to be saved in CD-mixes.

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  • 23
    $\begingroup$ "Used to be" -- ouch! $\endgroup$ – Ross Presser Nov 20 '17 at 14:28
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    $\begingroup$ I like this, but "nothing but lines" is a bit of a stretch. Musical notation has many things other than lines: open and filled ellipses, clefs, curves (slurs/ties), numbers, text, various symbols (repeat-bars, code, glissandi…). $\endgroup$ – wchargin Nov 20 '17 at 21:26
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    $\begingroup$ This makes sense of everything but the hint $\endgroup$ – John Coleman Nov 20 '17 at 21:56
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnColeman: I answered this before the hint was added, and it sure does throw my guess out the window... $\endgroup$ – Xenocacia Nov 20 '17 at 23:30
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    $\begingroup$ @Xenocacia A hint shouldn't be a necessary datum of a riddle. Your answer strikes me as spot-on (+1), but the hint itself seems like an unrelated riddle. $\endgroup$ – John Coleman Nov 21 '17 at 0:08
17
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Are you:

DNA

I'm understood by pairs of trained eyes

Geneticists can make sense of DNA and DNA representations.

For all the rest I'm nothing but lines

Regular untrained people just see a bunch of lines or the helix.

I can be copied, and still I'll be me

When DNA replicates, it's still the same.

I can live on paper, on tongues, perhaps a CD

When collecting DNA you can place a sample on clean paper.
You can take a sample from the tongue
You can read the sample using CD - circular dichroic spectroscopy

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    $\begingroup$ "on a CD" can also mean that the information can be stored digitally. I think this is right :) $\endgroup$ – E. Villiger Nov 21 '17 at 7:15
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    $\begingroup$ also looks like this is the only answer which also somehow matches the given hint… $\endgroup$ – Sarge Borsch Nov 21 '17 at 7:19
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I suppose the intended answer is Xenocacia's. But the description applies equally well to

written text, which just looks like lines of stuff on a page if you don't know how to read. Copied writing is still writing and the words can appear on paper, spoken or stored on a CD-ROM.

Note that this answer was posted before the asker added hints which seem to radically depart from the original riddle.

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    $\begingroup$ @DavidStarkey Xenocacia's answer also conflates a thing with the way we represent it. It's not yet clear whether this is a flaw in our answers or in the riddle. $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Nov 20 '17 at 20:35
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Maybe

An ECG result

Trained eyes are

doctors

Obviously it can be copied or reproduced in multiple copies and remain the same

For a second-opinion consultation, perhaps

Paper, tongues, CDs

Doctors can write the results/interpretation down, talk about it, send to colleagues on a CD (more appropriate for x-rays, but technically possible...)

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    $\begingroup$ As someone who makes that sort of monitor for a living, I like this answer, but I don't think that the actual result can really live on tongues, just discussion about the results $\endgroup$ – DqwertyC Nov 20 '17 at 17:50
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    $\begingroup$ Oh, I stretched it a bit, sure. No doubt that @Xenocacia's answer is the correct one (I voted for it too), but that idea jumped in my head and I decided to be adventurous... $\endgroup$ – Don_S Nov 20 '17 at 17:55
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A variation on Xenocacia's answer, I guess it is:

Melody.

Stretching it to match the hints:

1.

As humanity refers to all people collectively, music is comprised of individual melodies.

  1. Asking "whom" not "what" suggests a person, Melody is also a girl's name.

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    $\begingroup$ Heh, nice lateral thinking on the hints. $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Nov 21 '17 at 13:26
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I think the

music

answers probably have it, but I like the idea that it's just

data itself, probably scientific data.

I'm understood by pairs of trained eyes / For all the rest I'm nothing but lines

People involved in the study or in the field of the study can glean an awful lot of meaning, but to most, it's a lot of gibberish at best, lines of text or lines on a graph with no meaning.

I can be copied, and still I'll be me

That's absolutely the nature of data, if it's copied, it's still the same thing - in fact it needs to be copied in order to be used.

I can live on paper, on tongues, perhaps a CD

This is actually where I think the music answer is weaker, because music on tongues are understood by anyone so it seems like music can't fit both this rule and the first one simultaneously...but if you've ever listened to a scientific lecture that you weren't invested in, or didn't understand, you've heard a whole lot of nothing. And data is stored and transmitted in many different ways - whether a PowerPoint presentation on a CD, or published in a scientific journal, or, as I alluded to, spoken in lecture.

I...am way more boring than I had any idea before I wrote this.

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It could be

Barcode : The eyes is the bar-code reader to which it contains information but to most humans it is just a couple of lines. Can be copied still contain the same info. Have to stretch a bit but tongues... ok as a tattoo?

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  • $\begingroup$ everything matches except tongues..!! $\endgroup$ – Amruth A Nov 20 '17 at 10:14
  • $\begingroup$ Well, you can tattoo a tongue, so it's possible! It would also be the only answer so far where it can be literally on a tongue. $\endgroup$ – Leander Moesinger Nov 20 '17 at 16:35
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    $\begingroup$ See? It is possible :-P $\endgroup$ – frarugi87 Nov 21 '17 at 10:11
5
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The answer might be:

A letter or a character (from an alphabet).

I'm understood by pairs of trained eyes
For all the rest I'm nothing but lines

Only people who understand letters can read them, for the rest of the people are only lines.

I can be copied, and still I'll be me

No matters how many times or who writes a letter, that letter will still be the same letter.

I can live on paper, on tongues, perhaps a CD

Letters can be written, said or recorded.

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    $\begingroup$ After the hints, I was thinking along the same lines. Perhaps the letter is "I" or "Me" $\endgroup$ – B540Glenn Nov 21 '17 at 19:00
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It can be

lyrics applied with a musical notation (using octaves, staves, notes etc.)

As,

only trained musicians can understand the transformed lyrics onto a musical representation / notation. Also they can be copied, put on a paper, or of lips of a professional singer and even on media like CD.

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2
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refracted light or a rainbow

I'm understood by pairs of trained eyes

calling all physics sophomores

For all the rest I'm nothing but lines

calling everyone else. Remember "Magnets, how do they work?" Rainbows got the same treatment.

I can be copied, and still I'll be me

"double rainbow!"

I can live on paper, on tongues, perhaps a CD

I hope you'll all give me paper and CD as is. Anyone here have the deli meat made out of beef tongue? It's kinda iridescent from the oil-water layer or diffraction of end cut muscle fibers! Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition would assert they represent all humanity, sure. The 42nd Infantry "Rainbow" Division was named such by General MacArthur as it merged National Guard units such that it spread across America like a rainbow.

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't understand what my tablet did with the spoiler markup, sorry $\endgroup$ – user662852 Nov 22 '17 at 2:01
2
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The answer is

A song.

Based on Xenocacia's reasoning, but

The riddle refers to a single piece of music, not music in general.

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  • $\begingroup$ Closest so far. $\endgroup$ – Dotan Nov 22 '17 at 7:31
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I think the answer would be

words/text

I'm understood by pairs of trained eyes

words are only understood by us, humans, that have enough brainpower to make sense of letters put together - words.

For all the rest I'm nothing but lines

words span across multiple lines. Just like they did in this answer.

I can be copied, and still I'll be me

If you copy it you must also attribute copyright ownership though ;)

I can live on paper, on tongues, perhaps a CD

People speak and write words. Installation CDs, in particular, usually have some text written on them.

How would you feel if I referred to you as 'humanity'?

I am only able to answer that question, because I can make sense of "humanity" is. Otherwise humanity would be just a bunch of letters. This is very similar to "I'm understood by pairs of trained eyes"

Whom does the poem describe?

Needs to be a thing or a person. In this case, words!

Was four, am six, I'm very concrete

This verse may be a bit trickier. I think it's trying to describe that words usually are different from each other when put together to form a sentence. Hence (I) was four (the word four was just written), (I) am six (as just written).

You're probably staring at the thing I depict

I am indeed!

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  • $\begingroup$ This is similar to @David Richerby, so if his answer is not getting accepted netiher is mine... $\endgroup$ – Bruno Costa Nov 22 '17 at 10:07
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The answer is

A riddle

I'm understood by pairs of trained eyes

Only those who understand the riddle will understand it

For all the rest I'm nothing but lines

Those who don't understand the riddle will not understand it

I can be copied, and still I'll be me

The riddle can be copied but will still be a riddle

I can live on paper, on tongues, perhaps a CD

Riddles can live on all formats (written on paper, spoken in words, stored on cd)

The final verse gives it away

Was four, am six, I'm very concrete You're probably staring at the thing I depict. The verses summed up to 4 lines, with extra two it becomes six. Im also staring at the riddle on screen right now.

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1
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Is it

a song

or

a song sheet ?

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    $\begingroup$ Please add an explanation to your answer. $\endgroup$ – w l Nov 20 '17 at 12:56
1
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It can be

A computer program

Explanation

It is only understood by programmers, for rest they are just random lines.

Copying computer programs doesn't effect them

Programs can be written on paper, learnt by tongue(I doubt this bit!) and stored on CDs

A bit sketchy, but fit enough

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It can be

The story of a man written in a particular language or code, which obviously requires a person to know that language or code in order to decipher it. The story can live on the tongues of people, on paper and even on a CD, digitally. Also, copying it doesn't change it's theme.

It doesnt directly relate to the idea given in hint. But it's close.

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  • $\begingroup$ Pairs of trained eyes?  Lines? $\endgroup$ – Peregrine Rook Nov 21 '17 at 4:54
  • $\begingroup$ @PeregrineRook Trained eyes in the sense, knowing a particular lang or trained to recognize a certain pattern in a code. "Lines" can be related to lines of sentences in a story. $\endgroup$ – Amyanshu Jenamani Nov 21 '17 at 5:08
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Playing off Xenocacia's anser. It could be:

a conductor

I'm understood by pairs of trained eyes

Musicians play off a conductor's baton

For all the rest I'm nothing but lines

To a casual observer a conductor's movements could be seen as moving in erratic lines

I can be copied, and still I'll be me

Other people can copy a conductor's movements.

I can live on paper, on tongues, perhaps a CD

The movement itself and/or the result of the movements can be recorded on the listed mediums

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0
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The question was answered in the comments by itsyahani (and then by Kapep, frarugi87) so I'll put it here

The poem describes...

Itself

I'm understood by pairs of trained eyes

For all the rest I'm nothing but lines

As pointed out in other answers, written text has meaning to trained eyes, for others it's just lines

I can be copied, and still I'll be me

If you copy a poem it's still the same poem

I can live on paper, on tongues, perhaps a CD

Again, as pointed out, it can be written, said or recorded

Hints

Hints 1, 2, 3

Are meant to say that the subject is not abstract (e.g. music, poetry) but concrete. Not a class but an instance

Extra verse

Was four, am six
the lines of the poem, 6 including the extra verse

You're probably staring at the thing I depict
you're probably reading this of the screen, only probably, because someone might be reading it to you.

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  • $\begingroup$ But what does the poem have to do with humanity? $\endgroup$ – Master Yoda Nov 22 '17 at 13:22
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    $\begingroup$ As notes, it was referring to user who answered "music". the poem to music is roughly the user to humanity $\endgroup$ – Dotan Nov 22 '17 at 13:32
  • $\begingroup$ Except poems are not music. Jay’s answer, “song”, is closer to the hints than “poem”; “song verse” would probably be the best actual answer. $\endgroup$ – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 23 '17 at 10:00

protected by Rand al'Thor Nov 21 '17 at 18:08

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