How many letters are in the answer to this question?

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  • How many letters are in the answer to this question?
  • 23 is valid as it’s the literal answer to the question, How many letters are in “the answer to this question”? It was the first thing I thought of when I saw it.

    I didn’t see this at all, but now you’ve said it, seems a completely valid one (I would call this the smartarse approach though).

    My immediate thought was – the answer is an integer (and expressed in written, not numerical form)… making a grammatically correct answer. ie “bananas” would not be ok at all. “seven” is grammatically correct but mathematically incorrect.

    And then, the answer must reference itself, and therefore we can deduce that it must be a number that contains the number of letters – so this is where:

    At what point does it say ‘think of a number that has the equal number of letters to it’s numerical value’?

    you have to think it up for yourself.

    Anyone know if there are any other answers that follow this logic? and what answers are there in different languages.

    Rob Hilton
    Member

    we can deduce that it must be a number that contains the number of letters

    We, over here, can’t. 🙂

    I got 11, and I’m neither right nor worng.

    Premier Icon Greybeard
    Subscriber

    We, over here, can’t.

    I see the challenge as “think of a valid answer to this question”. The question says “How many…” so the answer has to be a number. Try some numbers as see if they fit:

    one, that must wrong, as ‘one’ has 3 letters, not 1
    two, (ditto)
    three, has five letters
    four – has 4 letters – yay!
    five, only has 4 letters
    etc, until it become obvious that the number is higher than any spelled out number.

    I can see why 23, but don’t understand 11?

    Premier Icon Greybeard
    Subscriber

    what answers are there in different languages

    German would still be 4 (vier)
    French and Japanese, I can’t find an answer.
    Traditional Cumbrian sheep-counting would be 6 (hovera)

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    There are thirty-six letters in this answer.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    is ‘four’ a correct answer?

    No, there aren’t any correct answers* because it’s not a correct question. It’s like asking someone to add up 1+ 4 + fish + blue. That’s why there is argument over it – different people are coming up with different reasoning to try and make it make sense.

    * unless you argue 23, which is pretty peurile along the lines of ‘how do you spell ‘it’ joke we all loved aged 9 or so.

    Premier Icon FuzzyWuzzy
    Subscriber

    Makes perfect sense to me, sure it’s contrived but you can deduce the answer with logic. You can’t deduce an answer to 1 + 4 + fish + blue, it’s not a comparable question.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    *You* think you can deduce the answer with logic.. but it’s logic you’ve chosen, which backs up my claim.

    Premier Icon FuzzyWuzzy
    Subscriber

    OK, you’re right, it’s 42 – happy now?

    TheBrick
    Member

    All logic is based on your initial axioms if choice. That’s the entire basis of logic

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