Is this word allowable?

All discussion relevant to Countdown that is not too spoilerific. New members: come here first to introduce yourself. We don't bite, or at least rarely.
Post Reply
Martin Thompson
Acolyte
Posts: 107
Joined: Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:40 pm

Is this word allowable?

Post by Martin Thompson » Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:29 pm

The word is FAINEST

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/defin ... ain?q=fain

adjective
[with infinitive]
1pleased or willing under the circumstances:

the traveller was fain to proceed

compelled by the circumstances; obliged:

he was fain to acknowledge that the agreement was sacrosanct

adverb

gladly:

I am weary and would fain get a little rest


I would interpret it as being allowable as it is a one syllable adjective, meaning it can be a superlative.

User avatar
Graeme Cole
Series 65 Champion
Posts: 1759
Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2010 9:59 pm

Re: Is this word allowable?

Post by Graeme Cole » Thu Jan 16, 2014 12:02 am

Martin Thompson wrote:The word is FAINEST

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/defin ... ain?q=fain

adjective
[with infinitive]
1pleased or willing under the circumstances:

the traveller was fain to proceed

compelled by the circumstances; obliged:

he was fain to acknowledge that the agreement was sacrosanct

adverb

gladly:

I am weary and would fain get a little rest


I would interpret it as being allowable as it is a one syllable adjective, meaning it can be a superlative.
The single-syllable adjective question has provoked much debate on this forum and on apterous before, and no doubt will continue to do so.

Under the rules, unless they've changed in the last couple of years, every single-syllable adjective can have a comparative and a superlative even if they aren't specified in the dictionary. The notes at the front of the dictionary say much the same as this (page xvi): for adjectives "of one syllable" the comparative and superlative forms "are regarded as regular and are not shown in the dictionary". Taken literally, this means you could have words like CLOSEDER and CLOSEDEST, or LASTER and LASTEST, because CLOSED and LAST are both given as adjectives. I doubt Countdown would ever want to allow these though - you couldn't use them in any meaningful sentence, and if someone were given 18 points for something like CLOSEDEST or HINGEDEST it would make a bit of a mockery of the show.

Countdown applies the one-syllable adjective rule almost-rigidly, but with rare exceptions where the comparative and superlative don't make sense. Sometimes the adjective describes a state something can be in, or not in, with no sliding scale or middle ground, like LAST. The one I remember is FEINTER (for reasons that will become obvious when you follow the link), and MAINER has also been disallowed, so there are some limits on how far the rule goes. I don't think anyone's ever offered the comparative or superlative of an monosyllabic adjective which is also a past-tense word such as CLOSED, but I'd expect it to be disallowed. Someone should try. :-)

Anyway, FAIN.

If you're going to have a rule that says comparatives and superlatives of one-syllable adjectives are regular and accepted, the bar for disallowing such a word needs to be pretty high, if it exists at all. The definition of FAIN is "pleased or willing to", and someone could be more pleased to do something than someone else. So it's not binary like FEINT or LAST. The sentence "I was fainer to proceed than he was, but she was the fainest to proceed" sounds a bit clumsy, but it still makes sense and has a real meaning. So under the rules, even if you allow for nonsensical forms to be disallowed, if it were up to me I would allow FAINER and FAINEST.

At this point I should include a disclaimer that it isn't, in fact, up to me. If you put FAINEST into Oxford Dictionaries Online, it comes up with no results, whereas more commonplace superlatives such as TALLEST take you to the root word. This is probably how Dictionary Corner will adjudicate words when they move from the ODE3 to using the ODO website, so don't be surprised if they disallow it in the future.

Heather Styles

Re: Is this word allowable?

Post by Heather Styles » Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:43 pm

It's not up to me either, thankfully, but if it were, I would give the thumbs-up to FAINEST.
Last edited by Heather Styles on Sun Mar 02, 2014 10:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

sean d
Acolyte
Posts: 183
Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:42 pm

Re: Is this word allowable?

Post by sean d » Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:58 pm

Alas contestants are furnished with guidelines for such t hings, not rules. And the guidelines come with the caveat that each case will be taken on its merits.

Fwiw Fainer / fainest are both invalid on Apterous, surprisingly. I feel Apterous tends to be a little more accomodating than countdown too.

User avatar
Innis Carson
Devotee
Posts: 898
Joined: Sat Nov 15, 2008 3:24 pm

Re: Is this word allowable?

Post by Innis Carson » Thu Jan 16, 2014 2:12 pm

They're probably only invalid on apterous because nobody's brought them up before. By apterous standards, they're pretty much indisputably valid.

Gavin Chipper
Post-apocalypse
Posts: 10146
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 10:37 pm

Re: Is this word allowable?

Post by Gavin Chipper » Thu Jan 16, 2014 2:47 pm

I think (hope) these discussions might become irrelevant anyway when we use the online dictionary. It would be the fabest thing to happen for a while.

User avatar
Mark Deeks
Kiloposter
Posts: 1986
Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2011 3:15 am

Re: Is this word allowable?

Post by Mark Deeks » Thu Jan 16, 2014 3:03 pm

I think we should make it so that it IS up to Graeme. Seems like the best way forward.
Eoin Monaghan wrote:
He may not be liked on here, but you have to give some credit to Mark

Martin Thompson
Acolyte
Posts: 107
Joined: Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:40 pm

Re: Is this word allowable?

Post by Martin Thompson » Thu Jan 16, 2014 5:27 pm

SPOILER
SPOILER
SPOILER
SPOILER
SPOILER
SPOILER
SPOILER
SPOILER















So imagine playing that in a close game and having it disallowed? Needless to say I'm not happy about it.

User avatar
Graeme Cole
Series 65 Champion
Posts: 1759
Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2010 9:59 pm

Re: Is this word allowable?

Post by Graeme Cole » Thu Jan 16, 2014 5:43 pm

Is that a spoiler for a game that's yet to be broadcast? If so then I'd recommend against posting it on here, even with spoiler warnings.

User avatar
Graeme Cole
Series 65 Champion
Posts: 1759
Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2010 9:59 pm

Re: Is this word allowable?

Post by Graeme Cole » Thu Jan 16, 2014 5:50 pm

Gavin Chipper wrote:It would be the fabest thing to happen for a while.
:D

User avatar
Innis Carson
Devotee
Posts: 898
Joined: Sat Nov 15, 2008 3:24 pm

Re: Is this word allowable?

Post by Innis Carson » Thu Jan 16, 2014 6:12 pm

Is the ODE3 entry for FAIN identical to the ODO one?

User avatar
Mark Deeks
Kiloposter
Posts: 1986
Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2011 3:15 am

Re: Is this word allowable?

Post by Mark Deeks » Thu Jan 16, 2014 6:12 pm

Yep
Eoin Monaghan wrote:
He may not be liked on here, but you have to give some credit to Mark

David Williams
Kiloposter
Posts: 1060
Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2008 9:57 pm

Re: Is this word allowable?

Post by David Williams » Thu Jan 16, 2014 10:04 pm

I'm fain to accept FAINER. If anyone has doubts, then I'm fainer to accept it than them. So they're wrong. A paradox.

The meaning of FAIN is quite similar to READY, and I don't think anyone would argue you can't be readier to accept something.

Countdown Team
Acolyte
Posts: 160
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 2:13 pm

Re: Is this word allowable?

Post by Countdown Team » Thu Jan 16, 2014 11:59 pm

Oxford has checked its databases including that of the OED and there are no examples of the comparative of 'fain'. The vast majority of adjectives in ODE will follow the Countdown rule, but there are some exceptions where an adjective will be single syllable but where adding -er or -est would be very strange. One example would be 'loath' - as in 'I'm loath to do something'. Another is fain.

Gavin Chipper
Post-apocalypse
Posts: 10146
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 10:37 pm

Re: Is this word allowable?

Post by Gavin Chipper » Fri Jan 17, 2014 12:18 am

I think strange is better than the possibility of inconsistent ruling. I think it was said before that Countdown becomes a game of guess what the DC adjudicator is going to think rather than based on any knowledge. You can have all the relevant facts - that it's a one syllable adjective and that you wouldn't expect it to be used in the comparative in "real life", but that's not always enough. Hopefully this will all become irrelevant shortly though.

David Williams
Kiloposter
Posts: 1060
Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2008 9:57 pm

Re: Is this word allowable?

Post by David Williams » Fri Jan 17, 2014 12:35 am

Countdown Team wrote:The vast majority of adjectives in ODE will follow the Countdown rule
The opposite, surely, i.e. the vast majority of adjectives in Countdown will follow the ODE rule (but not this one). Probably the ODE should specifically exclude it, and Countdown rules should allow flexibility, but neither applies. At least the word makes sense, unlike FLORUITED, say.

User avatar
Clive Brooker
Devotee
Posts: 505
Joined: Wed Feb 11, 2009 7:37 pm
Location: San Toy

Re: Is this word allowable?

Post by Clive Brooker » Fri Jan 17, 2014 7:53 am

Countdown Team wrote:...there are some exceptions where an adjective will be single syllable but where adding -er or -est would be very strange. One example would be 'loath' - as in 'I'm loath to do something'. Another is fain.
And bent. Uri's fork was benter than mine? An aberration surely.

A straightforward rule that participial adjectives, whether or not ending in -ED, don't take -ER and -EST when forming comparatives and superlatives would be in line with normal English usage and remove the possibility of abominations like PISSEDEST ever being having to be considered.

For once, I don't really see the problem with LOATHER/EST. The base word is in everyday usage and I don't think loather sounds any odder that more loath. Perhaps the difference with fain is that its usage is almost exclusively poetic or archaic, and maybe for such words there could be a general warning to contestants that normal rules may not apply.

User avatar
Graeme Cole
Series 65 Champion
Posts: 1759
Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2010 9:59 pm

Re: Is this word allowable?

Post by Graeme Cole » Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:18 am

Clive Brooker wrote:
Countdown Team wrote:...there are some exceptions where an adjective will be single syllable but where adding -er or -est would be very strange. One example would be 'loath' - as in 'I'm loath to do something'. Another is fain.
And bent. Uri's fork was benter than mine? An aberration surely.
I think BENTER could be used in the sense meaning dishonest or corrupt, like "he's the bentest copper on the force", or the slightly odder but still plausible "there's no-one benter than him on the force".

User avatar
Clive Brooker
Devotee
Posts: 505
Joined: Wed Feb 11, 2009 7:37 pm
Location: San Toy

Re: Is this word allowable?

Post by Clive Brooker » Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:31 am

Graeme Cole wrote:I think BENTER could be used in the sense meaning dishonest or corrupt, like "he's the bentest copper on the force", or the slightly odder but still plausible "there's no-one benter than him on the force".
A fair cop, you could say. Just wait till you see what I've got lined up for you in "Ask Graeme".

In a way, however, I think you back up my point. BENTER becomes plausible when the base word broadens its range of meanings and is no longer purely a participial adjective.

Gavin Chipper
Post-apocalypse
Posts: 10146
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 10:37 pm

Re: Is this word allowable?

Post by Gavin Chipper » Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:44 am

What's the big deal about FLORUITED anyway? In the ODO under FLORUIT it's used in an example sentence.

Although it won't find it if you search for it. I think that's quite a big problem for the dictionary and its use on Countdown.

David Williams
Kiloposter
Posts: 1060
Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2008 9:57 pm

Re: Is this word allowable?

Post by David Williams » Fri Jan 17, 2014 11:40 am

Gavin Chipper wrote:What's the big deal about FLORUITED anyway?
FLORUIT is already past tense. It means FLOURISHED. I don't think you'd allow FLOURISHEDED even if the dictionary appeared to specifically allow it.

Gavin Chipper
Post-apocalypse
Posts: 10146
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 10:37 pm

Re: Is this word allowable?

Post by Gavin Chipper » Fri Jan 17, 2014 12:02 pm

David Williams wrote:
Gavin Chipper wrote:What's the big deal about FLORUITED anyway?
FLORUIT is already past tense. It means FLOURISHED. I don't think you'd allow FLOURISHEDED even if the dictionary appeared to specifically allow it.
But that's the Latin origin, not the dictionary definition.

David Williams
Kiloposter
Posts: 1060
Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2008 9:57 pm

Re: Is this word allowable?

Post by David Williams » Fri Jan 17, 2014 12:40 pm

Gavin Chipper wrote:
David Williams wrote:
Gavin Chipper wrote:What's the big deal about FLORUITED anyway?
FLORUIT is already past tense. It means FLOURISHED. I don't think you'd allow FLOURISHEDED even if the dictionary appeared to specifically allow it.
But that's the Latin origin, not the dictionary definition.
It's a bit strange, actually. You could say that the ODE doesn't actually define it! The entry is

verb used in conjunction with a specified period or set of dates to indicate when a particular historical figure lived, worked, or was most active.

I'd say that FLOURISHED is a reasonable synonym, and that adding -ED is nonsensical. Don't forget that the point I was making was the inconsistency in allowing FLORUITED and disallowing FAINER.

User avatar
Jon O'Neill
Ginger Ninja
Posts: 4358
Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2008 12:45 am
Location: London, UK

Re: Is this word allowable?

Post by Jon O'Neill » Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:07 pm

Graeme Cole wrote:If you put FAINEST into Oxford Dictionaries Online, it comes up with no results... This is probably how Dictionary Corner will adjudicate words when they move from the ODE3 to using the ODO website, so don't be surprised if they disallow it in the future.
Gavin Chipper wrote:Although it won't find it if you search for it. I think that's quite a big problem for the dictionary and its use on Countdown.
Has there been anything to suggest that this is how words will be adjudicated? To me it would seem like a pretty bad way of doing things.

Gavin Chipper
Post-apocalypse
Posts: 10146
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 10:37 pm

Re: Is this word allowable?

Post by Gavin Chipper » Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:45 pm

Jon O'Neill wrote:
Graeme Cole wrote:If you put FAINEST into Oxford Dictionaries Online, it comes up with no results... This is probably how Dictionary Corner will adjudicate words when they move from the ODE3 to using the ODO website, so don't be surprised if they disallow it in the future.
Gavin Chipper wrote:Although it won't find it if you search for it. I think that's quite a big problem for the dictionary and its use on Countdown.
Has there been anything to suggest that this is how words will be adjudicated? To me it would seem like a pretty bad way of doing things.
Not by Countdown Team. I presumed they withheld the move to the ODO by a series while they looked at the best way of doing things. I don't think anything official has been said.

But it has been discussed on here (probably mostly by me). And it did seem previously as though looking up a word and seeing what it came up with worked quite well. Whether that is the particular method that gets used isn't as important as whether we can find a method at all using the ODO that gives a definite decision on a word.

You could extend it to looking up a word, and if it doesn't find it, looking up the headword. So look up FLORUITED, and then look up FLORUIT and see that it is mentioned and allowed it. But that only works if we know what the headword is. Someone could declare HUGBFHJGT and say it's the past tense of something but they can't remember what. So at the risk of disallowing a word that is explicitly used in an example, we could stick to the first method. It seems that people don't like FLORUITED anyway.

What would you recommend?

Gavin Chipper
Post-apocalypse
Posts: 10146
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 10:37 pm

Re: Is this word allowable?

Post by Gavin Chipper » Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:47 pm

David Williams wrote:
Gavin Chipper wrote:
David Williams wrote: FLORUIT is already past tense. It means FLOURISHED. I don't think you'd allow FLOURISHEDED even if the dictionary appeared to specifically allow it.
But that's the Latin origin, not the dictionary definition.
It's a bit strange, actually. You could say that the ODE doesn't actually define it! The entry is

verb used in conjunction with a specified period or set of dates to indicate when a particular historical figure lived, worked, or was most active.

I'd say that FLOURISHED is a reasonable synonym, and that adding -ED is nonsensical. Don't forget that the point I was making was the inconsistency in allowing FLORUITED and disallowing FAINER.
It is weird that they decided to dodge a clear definition.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 10 guests