# The Confused Alien

A rather serious and studious alien has landed on Earth with the prime directive to communicate with all Earthlings.

With his advanced statistical methods and the vast computing power aboard his ship, he sets out to understand every language of Earth (beginning, of course, with English).

The alien starts by analyzing the vocabulary of English for its elemental components and patterns. He doesn't initially understand roots, stems, prefixes, and suffixes as we do, but he's quickly getting there.

The alien is no fool, nor does he want to appear foolish. He is determined not to make any silly inferences (as in Jack Winter's humorous 1994 piece which infers that there must be words such as "ept", "gruntled", and "maculate" from inept, disgruntled, and immaculate) and risk having the Earthlings laugh at him.

Human languages are so full of exceptions that one instance is not enough to establish a pattern, he realizes. Therefore, he adamantly insists that all detected patterns must be verified in triplicate, or more.

Despite his triple checking, however, he has still reached some faulty conclusions. Can you follow the logic to his erroneous results?

Example:

Question:

Based on the word SCRIPT in the pattern CONSCRIPTED, INSCRIPTION, and SCRIPTURE,
the alien has determined that there must be a word which follows the same pattern
having something to do with dismissing food you don't want to eat when you have a cold.

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The alien seems to think there is a word GEST in the words CONGESTED, INGESTION,
and GESTURE.


Need another example?

Try this:

Question:

Based on the word FINE in the pattern FINALS, DEFINE, and FINER,
the alien has determined that there must be a word which follows the same pattern
having something to do with mathematicians feuding over the equations to describe
water flow.

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The alien seems to think there is a word RIVE in the words RIVALS, DERIVE, and RIVER.


Note that the reapplication of the pattern is always perfectly parallel and consistent (i.e., in both FINE——>FINALS and RIVER——>RIVALS, the —E is replaced by —ALS) even if it doesn't necessarily follow the semantics and word formations that we know.

See if you can resolve these 13 alien misconceptions:

1.  Based on the word SERVE in the pattern
DESERVES, OBSERVES, and PRESERVES,
the alien has determined that there must be a word which follows the same pattern
having something to do with an incompetent conman who reuses the same tricks.

2.  Based on the word DUCT in the pattern
CONDUCTION, DEDUCTIVE, and INDUCTED,
the alien has determined that there must be a word which follows the same pattern
having something to do with diseased cookies.

3.  Based on the word VERSION in the pattern
VERSIONS, INVERSION, PERVERSION, and AVERSION,
the alien has determined that there must be a word which follows the same pattern
having something to do with playing slow table games until your rear end hurts.

4.  Based on the word FLUENCE in the pattern
CONFLUENCE, FLUENCY,and INFLUENCE,
the alien has determined that there must be a word which follows the same pattern
having something to do witchcraft trials.

5.  Based on the word POSITION in the pattern
DISPOSITION, COMPOSITION, IMPOSITION, and REPOSITION,
the alien has determined that there must be a word which follows the same pattern
having something to do with calculating damages in litigation.

6.  Based on the word ACHING in the pattern
BEACHING, BLEACHING, REACHING, POACHING, and TEACHING
the alien has determined that there must be a word which follows the same pattern
having something to do with making too many margaritas.

7.  Based on the word NOTATION in the pattern
NOTATIONAL, CONNOTATION, and DENOTATION,
the alien has determined that there must be a word which follows the same pattern
having something to do with the executive board of wild animals.

8.  Based on the word LIGHT in the pattern
LIGHTER, ALIGHT, and DELIGHTING,
the alien has determined that there must be a word which follows the same pattern
having something to do with managing an apple orchard.

9.  Based on the word INFORM in the pattern
INFORMER, INFORMATIVE, and MISINFORM,
the alien has determined that there must be a word which follows the same pattern
having something to do with using drugs to avoid Passover.

10.  Based on the word MILITARY in the pattern
MILITARISTIC, ANTIMILITARY, and DEMILITARIZATION,
the alien has determined that there must be a word which follows the same pattern
having something to do with the singular worldview that all lead alloys are evil.

11.  Based on the word LAYING in the pattern
RELAYING, DELAYING, and ALLAYING,
the alien has determined that there must be a word which follows the same pattern
having something to do with a king who walks among the common people to think as they do.

12.  Based on the word NATION in the pattern
NATIONAL, CARNATION, DAMNATION, and DONATION,
the alien has determined that there must be a word which follows the same pattern
having something to do with complaining about a rainy and possibly unfair speed race.

13.  Based on the word STRAIN in the pattern
CONSTRAIN, RESTRAIN, and STRAINER,
the alien has determined that there must be a word which follows the same pattern
having something to do with a family made up of sibling antagonism.

• fine in finals??? +1 for nice question tho – Omega Krypton Jun 24 at 14:31
• @Omega Krypton — Yeah, he's an alien, so he doesn't have any of the understanding of semantics and word construction that we have. That's what makes it so tricky to decipher! – SlowMagic Jun 24 at 14:37
• BTW, I wonder if he modeled FINE ——> FINALS on SPINE ——> SPINAL or ARCHIVE ——> ARCHIVAL ...? ;-) – SlowMagic Jun 25 at 13:45
• Chess is a sport, actually – legrojan Oct 10 at 14:54

Full Solution

1. (solved by Michael Moschella)

Vious
Devious, Obvious, Previous

1. (solved by Michael Moschella)

Fect
Confection, Defective, Infected

3.

Ches
Chess, Inches, Perches, Aches

4.

Jure
Conjure, Jury, Injure

5.

Pute
Dispute, Compute, Impute, Repute

6.

Nder
Bender, Blender, Render, Ponder, Tender

7.

Fer
Feral, Confer, Defer

8.

Cid
Cider, Acid, Deciding

9.

Sed
Seder, Sedative, Missed

1. (solved by El-Guest)

Mony
Monistic, Antimony, Demonization

11.

Ign
Reign, Deign, Align

12.

Ped
Pedal, Carped, Damped, Doped

13.

Sist
Consist, Resist, Sister

• Do you not have an extra letter in #10? – Chris Jun 25 at 13:02
• @Chris I'm not sure what you mean, you might have to expand. It seems okay to me based on the alien's understanding. – hexomino Jun 25 at 13:11
• @Chris — The answer given for #10 is correct according to the alien's logic. In the pattern, the model word MILITARY plays out in MILITARI-STIC (with the final —Y becoming —I), ANTI-MILITARY (no change to the model word), and DE-MILITARI-ZATION (again, with the final —Y becoming —I). So we would expect the answer to be a "word" ending with —Y which is then replaced by —I in the first and third of the pattern. – SlowMagic Jun 25 at 13:38
• Ah right. I think it was the inconsistent bolding used in the answer that confused me most (coupled with me not 100% understanding the question initially). It made it look like different things were being added in each word. It feels like in this case the bolding should either include the I or exclude the Y (I'd probably go for the latter). – Chris Jun 25 at 14:00

10.

MONY, forming MONISTIC (dealing with One-ism); ANTIMONY (an alloying metal with lead); and DEMONIZATION (making something look evil)

• Do you not have an extra letter in the second word? – Chris Jun 25 at 13:02
• @Chris: no... – El-Guest Jun 25 at 13:11
• @Chris — The answer given for #10 is correct according to the alien's logic. In the pattern, the model word MILITARY plays out in MILITARI-STIC (with the final —Y becoming —I), ANTI-MILITARY (no change to the model word), and DE-MILITARI-ZATION (again, with the final —Y becoming —I). So we would expect the answer to be a "word" ending with —Y which is then replaced by —I in the first and third of the pattern. – SlowMagic Jun 25 at 13:39
• @El-Guest: My confusion came from a misudnerstanding of the rules. I hadn't worked out why it had a Y whereas the others didn't rather than thinking that the word was incorrect. – Chris Jun 25 at 14:01

1

VIOUS. Forming words DEVIOUS, OBVIOUS, and PREVIOUS.

2.

FECT. Forming words CONFECTION, DEFECTIVE, and INFECTED.

13.

SIST. Forming CONSIST, RESIST, and SISTER.