Thursday, December 10, 2015

December 10 – Old Riddles

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Today I was catching up on Meike’s blog From My Mental Library, and among her recent posts was one on Puzzles and Riddles, which stirred up memories, and made me comment:

I had a book of riddles in my childhood that had belonged to my dad. I'm not sure what happened to it... I know it was torn and tattered and barely kept together even then.

Having written that, I was struck by a thought, rose from the computer and went to have a look among some old books from my childhood (kind of hidden as they reside in a bookshelf covered by a curtain). I found what I was looking for in this old textile book cover, into which were tucked no less than three old books with the spine missing. One of them was the one with the riddles. (Gåtor in Swedish.)

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The printing year is 1926, and my dad was not born until 1931.
So the book may originally have belonged to my grandfather or my grandmother, even before they got married (which was in 1930). 

Just glancing through the book now, I find many of the riddles untranslatable (being of the wordplay kind), and others more or less unintelligible to modern readers because of how our ways of life and thinking have changed over the last 90 years.

But I’ll follow Meike’s example and give you some to ponder.
(The numbers in brackets are for my own reference within the book.)

1.  As long as you don’t know it, it is something, but as soon as you know it, it is no longer what it used to be. (574)

2. As soon as you pronounce me, you have also broken me. (598)

3.  What reaches from the earth far beyond the sun and the moon? (456)

4.  How can you avoid getting bitten by fleas in bed? (103)

5.  How do you prove that 20 minus 22 equals 88? (624)

16 comments:

  1. that is really good you found the books and have kept them. i know none of the answers and have never been able to guess answers to riddles, not even modern day riddles.

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    1. I will give some more readers a chance to guess, then I will give the answers in a comment. :)

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  2. These are tough ones, Monica! I do have an idea about the first two, but can't even begin to guess at # 3, 4 and 5. I'm sure that I'll slap my forehead and say "Of course!!", when you provide the answers, but right now my mind goes blank.

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    1. With one or two of them, so did mine, Meike. And then when I looked up the answer at the back of the book, there was the slap! :)

      I'll give it another day or so before I provide the answers, in case someone else wants to give the brain exercise a go.

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  3. I shall think about them but now I have to get on with my Christmas cakes!

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  4. Well I've stopped for afternoon coffee and instantly thought of answers to I and 4. I can give a scientific answer to 3 but I suspect that's not what's wanted.

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  5. This morning having breakfast I thought of the answer to 2. 5 is still defeating me.

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  6. 1 Answer.
    2 Promise.
    4 Sleep on the floor.

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  7. Adrian I'm inclined to think that an answer is still an answer even when you know it.

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  8. How about
    1 Secret
    2 Promise
    4 Don't sleep on the bed.

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  9. Looks like it may be time to to put you all out of your misery before you end up with chronic headache.

    1. As long as you don’t know it, it is something, but as soon as you know it, it is no longer what it used to be. (574) = A riddle.

    2. As soon as you pronounce me, you have also broken me. (598) = Silence.

    3. What reaches from the earth far beyond the sun and the moon? (456) = The human eye (gaze)

    4. How can you avoid getting bitten by fleas in bed? (103) = Sleep on the couch. (And of course, if I was giving out points here, I'd have to accept Adrian's and Graham's answers too.)

    5. How do you prove that 20 minus 22 equals 88? (624)

    XX (Roman numbers for 20)
    - 22
    ________
    88

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  10. Thank you for giving the answers, Monica! I was close to # 1 and 2 and have no difficulty understanding the others, but I don't get # 5. Why does XX minus 22 make 88?

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    1. Because X = 10, and 10-2 = 8. Do it twice and there you are... No, it does not really make "sense" to me either. But it seems whoever put this book together back in 1926 liked playing around with this kind of riddles mixing the Roman numeric system with ours...

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  11. I'm inclined to the view that 'Secret' is still a valid answer for 1.

    I understand the others and I can see the rather contorted way in which if you subtract 2 from 10 and 2 from 10 you can get 8 and 8 but I'm not sure it really stands scrutiny.

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    1. Graham, I was thinking along the same lines at first, but I'm not sure. A secret can still be a secret if you know, but don't pass it on. Whereas a riddle, as soon as you know the answer, ceases to be a riddle to YOU, and you actually have to pass it on to someone else for it to again be what it used to be to you...
      As for the maths... see my reply to Meike. Perhaps back in 1926 it was popular to play around with Roman vs Arabic numerals like that?

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