LETTER SHIFT

A word or phrase becomes another when one letter is shifted to a new position. For example: ONE = trollop, TWO = roll top.

LETTER SHIFT (*6, 6)
When ONE was just a little TWO,
In Illiers he lived and played.
Then, as those times began to fade,
He went in search of temps perdu.
=Belles Lettres

The solution: ONE = Proust, TWO = sprout.

If the letter is shifted only one space (as in complaint to compliant), the puzzle is traditionally classified as a metathesis instead.

If the letter is shifted from the beginning to the end of the word, the puzzle is a special type of letter shift called a head-to-tail shift.

In a reversed letter shift, a word or phrase becomes another when one letter is shifted to a new position and the result is reversed. For example: ONE = ignited, TWO = dieting.

In a sound shift, a word or phrase becomes another when one sound is shifted to a new position. For example: ONE = umber, TWO = bummer.

 HEAD-TO-TAIL SHIFT

A word or phrase becomes another when its first letter is moved to its end. For example: ONE = emanate, TWO = manatee; or ONE = brand, TWO = R and B.

HEAD-TO-TAIL SHIFT (5 3, *3 *5)
   (HOO = *3 *5 = not MW)
The HOO is best seen in this scene we’ve all seen:
Poor Scarlett refuses to let her man go.
“Another day, Tara, I’ll win my Rhett back!”
Against disillusionment Scarlett OHO.
Genteel men like Butler and ladies like her
Inhabit plantations and wear fancy clothes.
So as for Miss Scarlett -- her Butler is gone,
But Tara survives, and the cotton still grows.
=Qaqaq

The solution: OHO = holds out, HOO = Old South.

In a head-to-tail sound shift, a word or phrase becomes another when its first sound is moved to its end. For example: ONE = ciao, TWO = ouch.

In a reversed head-to-tail shift, a word or phrase becomes another when its first letter is moved to its end, and then the whole is reversed. For example: ONE = flatcar, TWO = fractal.

 PHRASE SHIFT

A well-known phrase (often not a dictionary entry) is altered by shifting one letter to another position to form a new phrase (almost never a dictionary entry). The cueword stands for the new phrase only; solvers must deduce the original phrase from a clue hidden somewhere in the verse. Ideally, the way the letters in the phrase are divided into words changes after the shift.

PHRASE SHIFT (3 2 1 7)
‘Twas the week after Christmas and Carol, a clerk,
Was stopped by a guard when returning to work.
“We’ve got a new system,” he said with a chortle.
“Only high-level workers may come through this portal --
It’s the ANSWER PHRASE uses! To enter the store,
Mere flunkies like you must employ the back door.”
=Xemu

The solution: way in a manager (from “Away in a Manger,” clued in the verse by “Christmas . . . Carol.”)

Other variations, like the phrase metathesis, have also been printed; in theory, any flat type where there’s only a small difference between ONE and TWO could be the basis for a phrase puzzle.

The phrase shift was invented by Mr. Tex.

 CHANGEOVER

A word or phrase becomes another when one letter changes to another and moves to another location. The changeover is labeled by the starting and finishing locations. For example, a first-to-third changeover: holster, oldster.

SECOND-TO-SEVENTH CHANGEOVER (8)
Grampaw says that he alone
Brought in Billy the Kid.
(Gramps was a ONE who TWO his flock --
That’s all he really did.)
=Mr. Tex

The solution: ONE = goatherd, TWO = gathered.

The changeover was invented by Beacon, named by Merlin, and introduced in June 1992.

 TRANSPOGRAM

A word or phrase becomes another when divided into two parts, which are interchanged. For example: ONE = rock-hard, TWO = hard rock (referring to the kind of music). Answers must be dictionary entries (or well known) but the parts need not be: for example, ONE = alloy, TWO = loyal.

TRANSPOGRAM (4 5, 9)
“This PHRASE is nearly killing me,”
The power forward said;
“It’s ‘run to here’ and ‘run to there’
Until I’m almost dead.”
“I must agree,” replied a guard;
“I’m cruising in low gear.
I had too much for WORD today --
I’ve had it up to here.”
=Al Gebra

The solution: PHRASE = fast break, WORD = breakfast.

A transpogram is most interesting if the parts have substantially different meanings. Houseguest and guest house, for example, are a dull base. Since interesting bases are hard to come by, the transpogram has always been an uncommon type.

In the phonetic transpogram, the two parts that switch remain true to sound but not to spelling. For example: ONE = welfare, TWO = farewell; ONE = Dear John (a kind of letter), TWO = John Deere (a brand name); ONE = zero, TWO = rosy.


This page was last updated on Friday, December 17, 2010. /webmaster