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Picture of Kalleh
posted

Question:
How many one-letter words are there?

When enough of you have weighed in on this, I will explain the purpose of this post. Shu...you already know this answer and aren't allowed to take this quiz. Razz

Choices:
2
12
24
93
1,000

 
 
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In English? Or can we count other languages? Confused


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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I don't think it's any one of these answers but 12 is the nearest to my guess.


Richard English
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Richard English:
I don't think it's any one of these answers but 12 is the nearest to my guess.


That's what I decided too.
 
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Just English, Arnie. But we need some more votes before I give the answer!

quote:
That's what I decided too.

Well, if you and Richard voted for 12, it doesn't make sense. Only 1 person is recorded as selecting 12.

Richard, at least according to the author of a new dictionary, one of those selections is correct. Of course, as good wordcrafters, we can always quibble. Shu has already quibbled about it with me!
 
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I'm going to be a maverick... and say 93
 
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quote:
Poll Question:
How many one-letter words are there?

It seems I read somewhere that there are only two one-letter words in English, but I can think of three. I can think of one in Spanish and two in Japanese.

Tinman
 
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Vowels are easy. In Polish there are prepositions w and z.
 
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In Spanish, I can think of "a", "o", and "y".
 
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For me, there are three: a, I, and O. But, somehow, maybe 24. One for each letter in the English alphabet, excluding aitch and double-u. And, for the non-US anglophones, 23, since they say zed instead of z. But, I don't see it. what's wrong with h and w?


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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quote:
For me, there are three: a, I, and O.

That's all I can think of. Hence my question about other languages. Since 3 is not an option and there are only 26 letters in the alphabet, only 2, 12, and 24 could conceivably be correct.

Since there is no 'other' option in the poll, I have not voted.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Picture of BobHale
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quote:
Originally posted by arnie:
quote:
For me, there are three: a, I, and O.

That's all I can think of. Hence my question about other languages. Since 3 is not an option and there are only 26 letters in the alphabet, only 2, 12, and 24 could conceivably be correct.


Not to say that you are wrong but I can think of many examples of two different words with exactly the same spelling which I'd count as two words (minute [min it] and minute [my newt] for example).

So it's perfectly conceivable that there could be more than 26.

That said I can think of more than two and fewer than 12 so I'll have to go 12.
Since there is no 'other' option in the poll, I have not voted.
 
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Yes, Bob, but these are one-letter words. As zmj has already said, we can only think of a, I, and O. Each of those has only one meaning in English that I can think of.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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x marks the spot

You could also argue the case for any individual letter counting as a word in sentences like

How many "n"s are there in banana?

It all depends on what you are willing to consider a word.
 
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To follow Bob's reasoning, in The OEDILF we have several entries for "a" including the obvious one, the article, but also there's "A" the grade, "A" the musical tone, "a" meaning "for" (as in "$5 a glass"), and others. This could up the total considerably.

Plus, maybe I'm reading too much into the question but there are several words made up of just one letter that is repeated. The rough lava stone "aa," a favorite with Scrabble players, is an example. All in all, I'm going to opt for 93.

And, if I may, allow me to tack on a semi-related poser. There is one logical English word that is spelled with one letter three times and with no other letters at all. I say logical because, no, it's not in OneLook but it's a word everyone will understand in context. It is not:

1. onomatopoetic, as in "mmm," or "zzz," representations of pleasure or sleep respectively,
2. an acronym or abbreviation,
3. a symbol, such as "XXX" representing adult sexuality (or kisses at the bottom of a letter),

Additionally, it is far, far less likely to be used today now that computers have made typewriters obsolete. And one last hint: Of all Wordcrafters, I would bet that Richard English has the best shot of solving this one. (...but no, it has nothing to do with beer.)

Hmmm?
 
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1000. Or rather, 1 K.
 
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oh very clever. And probably the "right" answer, though I would say that it is a clever distortion and not a correct answer. Would I be one with Shu in that contention, Kalleh?
 
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quote:
1000. Or rather, 1 K.

Depends on what you're counting. If it's RAM, then 1 K = 1024 (i.e., 2^10). If it's sheep, then 1 K = 1000.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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quote:
Depends on what you're counting


Words, not bytes
 
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Picture of Kalleh
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quote:
Since there is no 'other' option in the poll, I have not voted.

Sheesh, Arnie, were this one of those exams that would affect your career for the rest of your life(like the bar exam), then I'd see your point. Roll Eyes However, a Wordcraft poll? I think you could have taken a chance. Wink

Neveu is correct, at least according to the book that Bierma discussed in his last column. The author of "One-Letter Words -- A Dictionary" bases the 1,000 on Merriam-Webster's definition of word: "a speech sound ... that symbolizes and communicates a meaning," which means that individual letters do indeed qualify. "So even though there are only twenty-six letters in the English alphabet, my research shows that they stand for 1,000 distinct units of meaning," Craig Conley, the author of the book, says.

Too bad you didn't vote, Neveu. Wink
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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Well, rats, I got here too late to vote! I was thinking that any sound can be a letter, but all the sounds we can make aren't reflected in our alphabet. Soooo, to me both three and one thousand make sense.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by zmjezhd:
quote:
1000. Or rather, 1 K.

Depends on what you're counting. If it's RAM, then 1 K = 1024 (i.e., 2^10). If it's sheep, then 1 K = 1000.

And if you're a physicist, 1 K is pretty damn cold!

Tinman
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
The author of "One-Letter Words -- A Dictionary" bases the 1,000 on Merriam-Webster's definition of word: "a speech sound ... that symbolizes and communicates a meaning," which means that individual letters do indeed qualify. "So even though there are only twenty-six letters in the English alphabet, my research shows that they stand for 1,000 distinct units of meaning," Craig Conley, the author of the book, says.

Hmm, that definition sounds famaliar. I don't consider letters to be words, but rather symbols that can be used as components of words or that can be used to signify various words or concepts. But, accepting letters as words for the sake of argument, each letter is still just one word with multiple definitions. Conley is treating each definition of a letter as a word. K, for example, symbolizes 2^10, one thousand, degrees kelvin, potassium, constant, king (in chess), karaoke, kripke (logic), kip (unit of weight), kosher, Cambodia, karat, ... . Is each of these meanings a separate word? If they are, then most words are actually several words, since they have multiple meanings. For example, if has five definitions in the AHD (four conjunction, 1 noun). Does that mean if is five words? I think not.

Tinman
 
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quote:
Does that mean if is five words? I think not.

Tinman


At one degree K "if" becomes stIFf!
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Chris J. Strolin:
And, if I may, allow me to tack on a semi-related poser. There is one logical English word that is spelled with one letter three times and with no other letters at all.

This has apparently attracted zero interest. Details above. Answer tomorrow.
 
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I missed that.

It should be easy...just try all the letters. I like "mmm" or "zzz."

None of mine sound reasonable, though. "ooo"...nope! "eee"...nope! I don't get it. I have gone through all the letters. Confused
 
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I fear the typewriter connection meant nothing to me.


Richard English
 
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Picture of shufitz
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quote:
Originally posted by Chris J. Strolin: There is one logical English word that is spelled with one letter three times and with no other letters at all.
Here's a cite to one of many news outlets that published a recent Associated Press story stating,
    Ratings of AAA, AA or A mean the company is in good shape and has the means to pay on its bonds for the foreseeable future. A rating of BBB, BB or B the company is in generally decent shape, but could be vulnerable to economic or market risks. CCC, CC or C ratings are considered junk bonds, meaning there is a substantial risk that the company may not be able to pay back the loan.
This meets CJ's criteria, but probably isn't what he was thinking of, since it gives three answers and has nothing to do with typewriters.
 
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We used to use EEE on telexes as an indication that the previous word or phrase was wrong. Not on tyrpewiters, though - we used a typewriter rubber to correct mistakes.


Richard English
 
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Get ready to groan....

Those of us old enough to even remember typewriters may recall that many did not have the number "1" in the top row of keys. As a space-saving measure, the small case "l" was used instead, a circumstance which could have lead to the perfectly logical English sentence:

My typewriter doesn't have a 1 key so the l'll have to do.


Remember, I said one letter used three times and no other letters. I didn't say anything about no apostrophes, etc. (Yes, I know. I am very ashamed of myself....)
 
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Picture of Kalleh
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quote:
Yes, I know. I am very ashamed of myself....

Well, you should be! Wink

I really never used typewriters that much so I've never heard of l'll anyway.

Shu caught your point about one letter used 3 times and no other letter and thought there would be some trick to it.
 
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My typewriter doesn't have a 1 key so the l'll have to do.

Logical maybe - but on a typewriter with no number one key, impossible to type as you have typed it. It would of course read:

"My typewriter doesn't have a l key so the l'll have to do."


Richard English
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
I really never used typewriters that much so I've never heard of l'll anyway.

This isn't something anyone would have heard about before. It was more of a figure-it-out-for-yourself type thing and Shu, of course, was definitely correct. This had "trick question" written all over it.

As relatively feeble a wheeze as that was, Kalleh, I'm not sure you get it. The "l'll" you've never heard of, which looks too much like "I'll" for my tastes, is the small letter "l" followed by an apostrophe and two more small letter "l"s to make the unlikely contraction of "(letter l) will."

And R.E., you're also correct. In the scenario I establish to set up the puzzle, I wouldn't be typing that sentence but, rather, speaking it. My breathless prose would be recorded by an on-looker equipped with something more substantial than a 1932 Smith-Corona.
 
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As relatively feeble a wheeze as that was, Kalleh, I'm not sure you get it.

Ah, well, I often don't "get it" on Wordcraft.
 
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