Linguistic Puzzles 13 – 15

Challenge 13 — Working with scripts around the world. (Science of Literacy)

In English we use what is called Latin (or Roman) script to represent the sounds of words so we can write them and read them back. But there are many other types of scripts that are used in the world with the same goal, to have the symbols represent specific sounds.

Below we have arbitrarily chosen some Arabic symbols to represent a very few English sounds. Let us call this language Arabilish. Although these symbols may look odd and confusing to you, we want you to feel like someone who is just learning to read in your own language. We are going to help you learn to read these symbols through association, and by helping you compare and contrast the sounds and symbols.
And you will learn to read from right to left. Ready?

ت اى
م و
م و ن

Drag the English sounds to the corresponding Arabilish symbols.

t ____ م
m ____ و
n ____ اى
ai ____ ت
u ____ ن

Now drag the correct English word to the Arabilish word that corresponds to it.

tight _____ ن و ن
mine _____ ت و
noon _____ م اى ن
two _____ ت اى ت

Apply your literacy skills to reading longer texts.

If you were able to do the previous exercise, you should be able to read these two sentences (start from the right side):

اى   ت اى   م اى   ت اى.   اى   م اى ت   ت اى   م اى   ت اى   ت و   ت اى ت.

Hint: unscramble these two English sentences to match the sentences above by dragging the words into the correct order.
  • I
  • I
  • my
  • my
  • tie
  • tie
  • tie
  • tie
  • tight
  • might
  • too
  • .
  • .

Challenge 14 – The Trouble With Questions Part 1

In English, we use questions in many ways. When we want to get information we can ask a REAL QUESTION, like “Would you like one scoop of ice cream or two?” Sometimes we ask a question to produce an effect, these are called RHETORICAL QUESTION.

Both types of questions are found in the Bible. In the New Testament, 32% of the questions are REAL, 68% are RHETORIC. Look at underlined questions taken from Luke 22 & 23 and click to indicate whether they are Real or Rhetorical questions.

  1. or Luke 22:45-46 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
  2. or Luke 22:47-48 While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
  3. or Luke 22:49-50 When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.
  4. or Luke 22:52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs?”
  5. or Luke 22:63-64 63 The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. 64 They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?”
  6. or Luke 22:66,70 At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied, “You say that I am.”
  7. or Luke 22:71 Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”
  8. or Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “You have said so,” Jesus replied.

Challenge 15 – The Trouble With Questions Part 2

While some languages like Greek and English use rhetorical questions frequently, other languages like the Paama language of Vanuatu in the South Pacific rarely do. Below are examples of some different reasons people use rhetorical questions:

  1. Polite command: “Would you like to close the window?” = “Please close the window.”
  2. Rebuke: “Why don’t you ever listen?” = “You never listen to me!”
  3. Sarcasm: “Smoking leads to lung cancer? Who knew?” = “Obviously smoking leads to lung cancer?”
  4. Obviously not: “You don’t expect me to believe THAT do you?” = “I do NOT believe you.”
  5. Emphasis: “If I gave you the answer, what fun would THAT be?” = “Think a bit and you’ll figure out the answer.”
  6. Evaluation: (To a child about to eat all their Halloween candy) “Are you sure you want to eat all that right now?”
  7. Introduction a new subject: Setting goals is easy, but achieving them isn’t. How are you sabotaging your productivity?

Below are a few examples of rhetorical questions in the Bible. From the list on the left, choose how each rhetorical question is functioning. When you choose the correct one, the Paama equivalent will appear.

Drag these answers to the correct location

Polite command
Obviously not
New subject
  1. _____ Job 38:4 God asked Job, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.”
    Rebuke - translation option, use the question but supply the implied answer: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? You did not exist yet, so you could not possibly understand.”
  2. _____ Genesis 18:13, God said to Abraham, “Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
    Obviously not - translation option, use the question but supply the implied answer: “Is anything too hard for the Lord? Of course not! So, I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
  3. _____ John 18:35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied to Jesus
    Emphasis - translation option, restate the question as a statement. “You know that I am not a Jew.
  4. _____ Matthew 7:3 Jesus taught them saying, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
    Evaluation - translation option, restate as a statement and clarify meaning of imagery: “Before you judge your brother’s minor faults, you should judge your own greater faults.
  5. _____ John 4:7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?
    Polite command - translation option, retain question if it is readily understood in the language. “Will you give me a drink?”
  6. _____ Matthew 11:16 Jesus taught saying, “To what can I compare this generation?
    Introduce a new subject - translation options, restate as a statement. “I will tell you what this generation is like.
  7. _____ John 1:45-46 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
    “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
    Sarcasm - translation options, restate as a statement. “Nazareth! Nothing good ever comes from there.” Nathanael said.

Congratulations on finishing the last set of challenges.

If you enjoyed learning to read using a different orthography (alphabet) or were intrigued by the various functions of rhetorical questions, we encourage you to consider Bible Translation or Literacy work. Bible Translators regularly puzzle over issues like these as they seek to make God’s Word understandable in both the language and culture of the people. When you are done click on the Home button above and choose another set of challenges.