Down with ‘anagrinds’ – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Down with ‘anagrinds’

Down with ‘anagrinds’

Keep jargon at bay

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Not being a regular visitor to the Guardian website I have only just noticed Hugh Stephenson’s recent newsletters.  Hugh is The Guardian’s crossword editor.

There are several paragraphs on a subject on which I am in total agreement with Hugh – the use of dreadful neologisms, mostly portmanteau words, like anagrind and inserticator in crossword reviews.  Regular followers of this site know that their use is actively discouraged.  I loved the suggestion expressed by Barry E. on anagrind – ‘Whoever it was that coined the word should be taken out and shot, revived and shot again for a Sisyphean eternity.'”

You can read the original artice here andthe follow-up here.

Feel free to add your views on this subject.

39 comments on “Down with ‘anagrinds’

  1. Oops should I abandon ‘perservate/perservation’ ? Seriously I have never liked the word anagrind and first came across it on COW where it is often used

    1. perservate is a perfectly acceptable word and should be retained unlike the others which BD mentions above.

    2. Keep perservate in, I think it’s great, very creative and descriptive and sums up the crossword solver’s plight.

  2. I don’t like the word anagrind, or any portmanteaus for that matter. I happy with anagram indicator.

  3. Almost every field of interest, casual or professional, uses jargon to at least some extent, and portmanteau words are almost as common as abbreviations and purely technical words. I have no objection to ‘freeware’ instead of ‘free software’ and I’m more likely to say I stopped overnight in a B&B rather than a bed & breakfast. And when I’ve finished using my Bic biro I put the nib back into the cap, not the ‘part where the ink comes out’ into the ‘pointy plastic bit on the end’.
    As a hobby or profession, crosswords create their own language, and portmanteau words are just a way of avoiding the tedium of having to frequently use multi-word expressions. ‘Anagram indicator’ is a case in point; if you are explaining a set of crossword clues based on anagrams and have to keep typing ‘anagram indicator’ it becomes just a bit tedious.
    Anagrind, inserticator etc etc are not there for the purpose of trying to appear clever – they are designed to turn unwieldy terms into something concise and specific in meaning. It baffles me that we occasionally encounter self-appointed arbiters of acceptability who regard crosswords (whether solving or setting) as being an activity to which entirely different rules have to apply. A recent discussion elsewhere about setters’ blogs emphasises that point; chess enthusiasts, trainspotters, stamp collectors or knife jugglers all seem to have the right to blog away on everything pertinent to their favourite subject, yet some were suggesting crossword setters shouldn’t be able to do so. Ridiculous.
    Those who use the portmanteau words (and other, standard jargon) of crosswords are not inventing them on the fly. They have seen these terms in blogs/reviews/guides and have latched onto them as being brief, useful and easy to recognise. But they have never suggested that such terms be adopted into mainstream language (nor even embraced by other solvers/setters), which is why I thought the Guardian article was a bit odd.
    These convenient, abbreviated forms are there solely for those who want to use them. If you don’t want to use them, use their full forms. Nobody is going to object.
    In return, just accept that people do like to have a choice.

    1. While, of course, strongly disagreeing with a lot of what you have written I would point out that the use of AutoCorrect (another portmanteau word) in MS Word enables me to enter, for example, anag to get “anagram () of” so it is no trouble whatsoever when writing the reviews to use plain English instead of gobbledegook. It shouldn’t be necessary to use a glossary of terms to understand a review, which is probably part of the reason that this site gets twice as many visitors than any other comparable UK site.

      Furthermore, I am not against portmanteau words in general, just ugly ones like those I mentioned. Those invented by Lewis Carroll are firmly integrated into the language anyway.

      1. I tend to agree with Anax. It can take an inordinate amount of time to judge, say, 50 plus clues and any saving on letters in the review can really help. That is why we use ‘anagrind’. It is a time-saver and easily understood among those familiar with crossword setting.

      2. Language changes whether you like it or not – it’s all down to popular usage. I never understand why people say that a particular word is “ugly” or “beautiful”. If language didn’t change we would all still be speaking like Shakespeare!

        What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
        By any other name would smell as sweet

        Needed Google for the quote!

          1. Ps! I enjoyed your dissection of today’s Guardian Quiptic! Unlike others on Fifteensquared you take time to put the full clues into the blog and then give a full and comprehensive explanation for each one.

            Today’s Quiptic was toughish IMHO!

            1. That’s because a lot of the others on fifteensquared use gobbledegook like anagrind and inserticator rather than explaining the clues to someone who doesn’t understand that kind of language!!!!

          2. I can only really speak for myself and the answer is yes. If I am judging a large amount of clues it takes hours of my spare time. I am not going to write out ‘cryptic definition’ for example every time I need to use it when I know full well that the people who are going to read it will understand ‘CD’. Likewise I will use ‘wordplay’ instead of subsidiary indication and ‘anagrind’ instead of anagram indicator. I am trying to get a point across rather than write a piece of prose.
            I can quite understand that you should not want to use such terms in your blog, bearing in mind the audience. But for those who write at length about clue technicalities, terms such as ‘anagrind’ and CD are useful.

            1. In my copy of MS Word, “cdf” AutoCorrects to “cryptic definition of ” and “adjm” AutoCorrects to “adjective meaning”, and so on!

              1. As I said, Dave. I have no need for Autocorrect as my audience understands anagrind, CD etc. Just as chess enthusiasts understands d4 or e4 and Greyhound enthusiasts understand all the little abbreviations for form that they seem to cram into the race guides you get. Your audience is different and it is admirable that you reject too much techincal jargon, it makes it more accessible for beginners and hopefully draws more people into our hobby. I’m just saying, like Anax, that the word serves a functional purpose to some people.

          3. Er..sorry to be pedantic, but anagram indicator is actually 16 letters (17 keystrokes, including the space).

              1. Thanks! I can’t seem to find today’s DT hints, and I’m annoyingly stuck with one left…

  4. Without wishing to sound sycophantic I don’t see a comparison between this site and 225, I know where I’ve “met” the nicest people and the most help. Long may bigdave44 continue in my humble opinion. However, I do feel it is unfair to to tar all the bloggers on 225 with the same brush, some try harder than others.

  5. The Guardian article was asking whether non-dictionary jargon words such as anagrind should be used in standard crosswords. The consensus view was that they should not.
    Their use in crossword blogs is a separate matter and different blogs will have their own house styles to suit their audiences. Fifteensquared furthermore covers a wide range of puzzles, and it is perhaps reasonable to see more jargon in a review of a complex barred puzzle than it would be in an explanation of the beginners’ Quiptic puzzle.

  6. Have re-read the article, wasn’t Hugh talking about “anagrind” being an acceptable / unacceptable answer to a clue rather than in the blogging of the answer?.

  7. I have enough problem solving the puzzles without having to master a whole new vocabulary describing what it is I am doing. If it is important to know in order to solve the puzzle I’ll learn it. If not, I don’t need to clutter my thinking box with it:)

  8. It seems to me that the language that you use will depend on your intended audience. If I am discussing a point of law with another solicitor, I will use technical terms and jargon that I would not use if explaining the same point to a client. Two experts discussing a topic will have a shared experience of terms that an outsider will usually find confusing.

    I think that technical terms such as anagrind, inserticator, etc on this site are out of place given the wide audience and differing range of experiences of those to read and comment (and those who drop by but don’t make comments themselves) – I seem to recall that even the term “charade” to describe adding two words together had to be explained at one point. Just as bad would be using the “algebraic” notation that setters and some bloggers use such as “(train[s]potters{g}) * mixed” use. Similarly, I would not expect “in-house” jargon to form solutions to a crossword that will be solved by many more people that don’t have the shared experience – be it of crosswords or train-spotting.

    Juding on DIY Cow is an entirely different matter. It is reasonable for the judge to assume more of a shared knowledge if someone has taken the time to find the forum and submit a clue.

    I cannot comment on Fifteensquared as I rarely comment or contribute to that blog. It is up to the site administrators and bloggers to set their own policy depending on the size and expected knowledge of its intended audience.

    1. I think that Prolixic sums up my stance pretty well.
      I would also like to point out that I had to go away and look up some of the jargon used elsewhere (and have only just twigged ‘anagrist!’) but there is a place for it on a blog (or anywhere) for like minded people (some of them are still damned ugly words though!).
      Finally, I don;t have the time to set my autocorrects!! THat’s me on the fence!

  9. A very grateful thank you to Big Dave and his bloggers for allowing novices to enter the delightful world of crossword puzzles without feeling like complete numpties. IMHO (sorry Dave) there’s far too much exclusion in crossword land and not nearly enough inclusion. Like many things in this life crossword skills require diligence, practice and familiarity with convention – so actually not much different from other types of skill. The delight of Big Dave’s blog is that it is so tolerant of mixed abilities and SO good humoured. Nary a harsh word anytime and it does exactly what it says on the tin – crossword clues in PLAIN ENGLISH. Why would one want anything less?

  10. Couldn’t agree more with your sentiments, but why have you posted as anonymous? I so agree with the philosophy on this site when it comes to timing of solving, i’m a relative newbie and couldn’t give a flying hoot how quickly others solve, just want to know a) how, b) what they enjoyed and c) what can I learn . Best bit for me is if you ask a stupid d’oh question, you don’t get a stupid patronising answer, you get constructive help. And boy o boy do I often require some assistance. Night all

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