Hello. This week we’re going to go out on the Internet and explore riddles. In overly simplistic terms, I guess we could say a riddle could be defined as a seemingly impossible question, offered as a challenge to an audience. And, I think, that should make sense to you now that you’ve done your reading. But, I’m going to give you a few examples of course. The original word riddle is from the old English word raedan, meaning an advice or opinion. And riddles are certainly universal. They’re found everywhere. I’ve seen them in all the countries I’ve been in, although, in the undeveloped countries, they seem to be much more popular, even among adults. Some places still use riddles as adult entertainment. Today, you know, in the developed countries, kids will still ask them. But you don’t find them quite as common, at least true riddles.
certainly have been popular in myth, legend, and literature. You come across them in, certainly, fairy
tales quite a lot. In literature, great
examples, if you've read Oedipus, you might remember the story. After Oedipus,
unknowingly, kills his father, the goddess Heras and the monster known as the
Sphinx arrives. And posed the following
riddle to all the locals, and of course, kill those when they were unable to
answer. And the riddle was, “what is it
that goes on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon and three legs in the
evening?” And luckily or unluckily -- but
anyways, Oedipus was able to answer the riddle and say that it is man that in
the morning of his birth, essentially as a child, a baby, infant -- he would
travel on four legs. In morning of his
life, that’s how he would travel, and then, in the noon of his life, he would
walk and in the evening of his life, he will be back to three legs, because he would
have a cane. I think Brunvand mentioned
some other famous ones, like Solomon and
Anyways, I think, your text starts off with discussing the true riddle, which is, again, a comparison between the unstated answer and something described in the question. For example, a person might say as a riddle, "I am never hungry. I have a face but no mouth." And the first part is -- often the first part offers a description that is fairly general and then it’s followed by a contradictory or at least apparently contradictory statement. So, someone might say -- "what am I, I am never hungry, I have a face but no mouth." A possible correct answer could be clock or somebody might say, "what am I? I have no mouth but my teeth are sharp." That could be a saw or something like that. You’ll probably remember some of these from when you were little youngster.
There’s also, besides the true riddle, the problem riddle. Now, in the problem riddle, supposedly you actually have a chance to answer it. In other words, all the facts are there and you might be able to answer it if you were are able to analyze the facts. That’s the sort of riddle where somebody says, what plants stands for the number four? And, if you happen to think about it for quite a while, you might know that the -- in Roman numerals I and V equals four so you could say Ivy. It would be a plant. Or what do girls in life have that boys and death do not? Well, the answer is “the letter L.” Or what makes a road broad? And that’s actually the letter B in front of road would make it the word broad. So, the problem riddles are--the answer is actually hidden in there somewhere and you could probably figure it out. Although, what I found is that most riddles seem to be told rather than asked-- they’re really almost impossible riddles and you’re not expected to answer them. And boy if you do answer a kid’s riddle, when they asked you, they don’t expect you to answer it. Let me give you example of some of the impossible riddles that I’ve been asked over the years (and I didn’t solve by the way). What kind of shoes do snakes wear for swimming? And the person who asked me that was a -- I think a 10-year old boy. He certainly didn’t expect me to get it. I knew he was very happy when he said the answer, which was water moccasins. Or how do you make a strawberry shake? You sneak up and yell boo. Or what is the smallest room in the world -- a mushroom. What kind of ears do trains have? Engine ears, oh, yes. So again, those are somewhat impossible riddles and that -- they’re offered, usually, not with the expectations that you would solve them.
section of riddles still popular today among adults are riddle jokes. And even though, most of them are impossible
for us to get. Some of them are still
are popular among kids such as, the knock-knock jokes. The kids will come up and say knock-knock who
is there? Cantaloupe.
Cantaloupe who? Cantaloupe tonight, daddy’s got the car. Or the light bulb jokes are really riddle jokes,
if you think about it, because they are asking a riddle. How many blank that does it take to change a
light bulb? Or most blonde jokes are
actually riddle jokes. What is the
difference between a smart blonde and big foot? Well, big foot has been spotted. Now, we’re going to not talk much about the
riddle jokes in this section. We’re
going to handle the analysis of most humor or humorous jokes later on in the
semester. But I did want to point out that
certain types of jokes could be classified as riddle jokes. Lawyer jokes, how can you tell when a lawyer
is lying? The answer, his lips are
moving. Ethnic jokes, fad jokes, like
about O.J. or the Bobbitt’s or
Your text also discusses pretended, obscene riddles. More adolescent boys seem to be really interested in telling those. They typically come up and are quite often asked to other boys or girls in front of other people. For example, What’s a four-letter word that ends in K and means intercourse? And of course, they’re expecting you to say something else but the answer that then they say, oh, no the answer is “talk.” Catch questions are designed to embarrass, and adolescent boys also like that. That’s where the boy comes out and asks a girl -- do you know what virgins eat for breakfast? And that’s designed to catch them off-guard, as there is really no best answer.
And there’s the palindrome, and the palindromes are, sort of interesting. These are non-oral riddles. It’s a word or sentence that reads the same backward as forward. And some of them were kind of fun. People actually enjoy creating them. Again, it’s just a sentence that reads the same frontwards or backwards. And example would be, "a man, a plan, a canal, panama.” If you were to read that -- if you were to, actually, type that sentence backward it would still say exactly the same thing. Or "a dog, a panic in a pagoda" would read the same. Or "may a moody baby doom a yam." That’s kind of adumb one. Or how about this? "Was it a car or a cat I saw," or "ten animals I slam in a net." Anyways, those particular sentences would read the same forward or backwards.
There are also conundrums—these involve word play—a riddle based on punning or other word play. And they might be something like, “what’s black and white and red all over.” The answer of course would be a newspaper. And there are tongue twisters, I think I list a site with lots of them. I’m not any good at those-- I’m always the one who tripped up. One that used to get me often was the one about the tutors and I think it went something like “two tutors who tooted the flute, tried to tutor two tooters to toot, said the two to the tutors is it harder to toot or to tutor two tooters to toot.” And as long I say that at about one word a minute, I might be able to get it.
Your text also brings up droodles and other visual riddles. And that’s an area that you might enjoy. Now, again this week, I think I’ve listed what I call the amazing riddle contest and you’re welcome to play and see how many you can get. The riddles listed (although they’re difficult) would be at least possible or problem riddles in that -- you could get the answer. Not that it's easy but you certainly could and there’s a link to them.