Enigmatic Variations 1478
Excusez-moi by Eclogue
Corrected letters of misprints spell A CHACUN VIENT SA CHANCE, equivalent to the idiom ‘Every dog has its day’, and DAYS IN FRENCH being insertions in dogs provided by undefined clue answers.
Last seen on these hallowed pages for EV 1454 “RAMJETS”, Eclogue returns to the fold with EV1478 “EXCUSEZ-MOI”. This is in fact only Eclogue’s tenth EV in nearly 8 years and we have already noted a need to improve upon our relatively low rate of throughput for this outlet.
It seems strange that with barely a smattering of usable French between them (except what passes for GCSE level these days), the two contributors under the Eclogue banner have now produced a second puzzle involving this language, having made their EV debut on 14 April 2013 with EV1066 “TAXING” which concerned the “kingdom of the blind” idiom, similarly disguised.
So, what of the puzzle itself? Well, the “every dog has its day” theme has been on the ideas pile in one form or another for more years than we care to remember. Previous attempts at publication (elsewhere admittedly) included named days such as LAMMAS being swallowed by a canine counterpart. None of these passed muster however and the puzzle returned to the idea bank for some future moment of enlightenment.
The renaissance to this otherwise previously flawed endeavour however came about on a rare perusal of Collins-Robert French-English Dictionary, whose thickness is substantially enhanced by the level of dust adorning the flyleaves, for which carbon-dating could well be employed!
Worldwide there are a range of sayings that do not translate well into a foreign language, or that have no immediate counterpart and “every dog has its day” is no exception. The French equivalent offered is A CHACUN VIENT SA CHANCE, which more loosely suggests “everyone has their chance”, with not a dog in sight. But, from that acorn the idea emerged that rather than the named days or traditional English days of the week (all of which, when written in full, rather tediously end in DAY), how about their French equivalents which be at least a little less obvious, having only DI in common throughout?
As usually happens with barred crosswords, the grid pattern is built around the thematic material which could be readily arranged into a lattice of 5 across and 2 down entries running the full length / breadth of the grid. This is also in keeping with another pet project which Eclogue explored in 2020, namely the completion of a 15×15 blocked puzzle with only 15-letter entries, achieved by cycling the entries – an idea now published twice, both in the UK subscription magazine, 1Across and also the unrelated but coincidentally named 1Across.org.
The job to in-fill the remainder of the grid was relatively straightforward, without resorting overly to obscure place-names, or three letter words (the latter being something of an anathema for this compiler).
The misprints provided the idiom alongside the helpful indication of “DAYS IN FRENCH”, while the undefined entries were each dogs in which the days were to be included.
That just leaves the title, which served two purposes: firstly, the French-ness of the idiom cited and secondly, the interrupting nature of the days being inserted into the dogs.
We hope you enjoyed our latest jaunt across the Channel and look forward to seeing you again soon, where we may be heading even further afield!
A full review of this puzzle can be seen over on fifteensquared.