Cranium-Cracking Cryptic Crosswords, Volume 2
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Syntactic ambiguityGotchas!


Hidden Capitalization

Two rules of English spelling and grammar state that:

  1. A proper noun must be capitalized, and
  2. The first word of a sentence must be capitalized.

Now there are many proper names whose spellings are exactly like English common nouns except for a capital letter, such as Chambers, West and Park. A cryptic setter will often try to make a name look like a common noun in the surface reading. However, rule #1 prevents the name from being rendered without capitalization, so to make it look like a common noun, the writer will place it at the start of a sentence, thereby exploiting rule #2. For example:

Lively blue water (5)
West migration in Kenya (5)

The first clue is a charade for B+LAKE, a reference to actress Blake Lively. The second clue is an anagram of KENYA which, when rearranged, gives KANYE, a reference to recording artist Kanye West.