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Listener 4120: Cross-country by Mynot

Posted by erwinch on 4 February 2011

Just a quick one, we do not often get the opportunity to display such a colourful grid:
So, back to Switzerland for a second consecutive week.  Letters removed from each entry had given us the instruction:
Colour appropriately cells containing letters of theme.
There then followed a prolonged search for the theme within the grid.  There were almost some colours visible in connected cells, including diagonals, VIOLE(T) (starting row 2) and (Y)ELLOW (starting row 4) but nothing satisfactory.  The grid looked odd and I did wonder about all the repeated sequences such as RRAN, LL, LI and SSY.  Finally, and rather in desperation, I did a frequency count of the letters in the grid thinking that those of a two-letter abbreviation might occur a total of 21 times.  L at 17 and V at 4 did but neither LV nor VL were abbreviations for two words of 21 letters.  It was only when counting the H’s (4) that I thought that CH might fit the bill and indeed it did – puzzle complete!
Chambers is at odds with the Internet on the spelling.  Googling “Confœderatio Helvetica” beats “Confederatio Helvetica” by some 571,000 hits to 37,300 but looking under confederation in the SOED would seem to support Chambers.  However, I strongly believe that dictionaries should be descriptive rather than prescriptive so which spelling do the Swiss themselves prefer?  Perhaps Shirley can help here.

One Response to “Listener 4120: Cross-country by Mynot”

  1. shirley curran said

    Yes indeed, the Swiss, although almost 70% German speaking, are very proud of their official name which favours none of the four languages of the Confederation (or us – the fifth) and have adopted the Latin name. I think Chambers makes that very clear. Perhaps we were somewhat advantaged by living on the border with those flags flying in full view, but we did find this theme very quickly and felt that to have the 124 letters that appear in the title as the ones that had to be highlighted was perfectly fair – after all, the ones that are not in that name (most of them) were nicely isolated in the cross bit that was evident from the name – Cross Country.
    I have to admit to being slightly shocked by the ‘cross’ almost vitriolic response on the message board to this crossword.

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