Asked and Answered 14.0

If you’re in love with Wordle — as so many of us are ♥ ♥ ♥ ! — wouldn’t it be wise to learn everything you can about your object of desire before you discover something about them that causes you to walk out on the relationship in anger and disappointment?  Of course you would.  That’s why I am here to offer some Wordle relationship advice before it gets to that point… that is, the crying point 💧💧💧.

We all hate falling into those Wordle rabbit holes like SLATE-SPATE-STATE-SKATE or PAINT-SAINT-TAINT-FAINT, games that could end in six guesses just as easily as three.  The games that make you want to dive off a barren, rocky cliff into a cold, turbulent sea.  Well, perhaps I exaggerate.  There could be a patch of grass on that cliff.

Don’t worry, what I’m about to reveal is not going to spoil your Wordle fun, but it might be helpful for you to know something about the set of 2,300 words that are Wordle solutions.  The solution set has been available since Wordle was launched, and some players feel that having the solution set at hand is part and parcel of playing the game.  While I disagree, there are times I would appreciate knowing whether I am on Wordle’s wavelength when considering my next guess.

So, I downloaded the Wordle solution set — without looking at the list of words — and then created a spreadsheet that allowed me to ask and answer five general questions about the nature of the words that are Wordle solutions.  (If you feel that even general knowledge about the solution set would ruin the game for you, then stop reading now.)

My first question was, how many vowels does the typical Wordle word have?  The answer (below) is that about two-thirds of the solutions have two vowels.  Of the remaining third, the solution is more likely to contain a single vowel than three vowels:

FIGURE 1: NUMBER OF VOWELS IN SOLUTION

Pie Chart - the number of vowels in Wordle solutions

Next, I wanted to know the likelihood that a given Wordle solution starts with a vowel, which I always find annoying.  This turns out to be a bit less than one out of seven.  So, once a week we should expect IRATE, ETHER, or ALERT?  As Charlie Brown would say, AAUGH!

FIGURE 2: FIRST LETTER OF SOLUTION

Pie Chart - the starting letter in Wordle solutions

Third, it certainly feels like a substantial number of Wordle words end in E, more so than other vowels and consonants.  I didn’t tally up the endings letter-by-letter, but I did find that about a third of the solutions end in E or Y, with E being a bit more likely:

FIGURE 3: FINAL LETTER OF SOLUTION

Pie Chart - the ending letter in Wordle solutions

Which brings us to the letter frequency of the Wordle solution set.  I was curious to know how often the two most common vowels AE and the four most common consonants LRST appear in Wordle words.  I found that only 5% of the solutions do not contain any of the letters AELRST.  One-third of Wordle solutions contain exactly two AELRST letters, while three-quarters of the solutions contain two, three, four or more.  This means that your Wordle blind date is likely to be bland, letter-wise.  Even STALE.  Or bore you to TEARS.

FIGURE 4: SOLUTIONS CONTAINING LETTERS AELRST

Pie Chart - the number of AELRST letters in Wordle solutions

Lastly, how likely is it that your latest Wordle crush is from a Slavic-European country?  By that I mean, how many of the solutions contain one or more of the rare (according to Words with Friends) letters JKQVXZ?   Surprisingly, the answer is about one in five:

FIGURE 5: SOLUTIONS CONTAINING LETTERS JKQVXZ

Pie Chart - the number of JKQVXZ letters in Wordle solutions

So now you know a little more about the game you’ve been spending so much time with and often grumbling about.  Maybe this will help you find the day’s solution more quickly and put a little more love ♥ ♥ ♥ into your love-hate relationship with Wordle.

_______

Update: One reader commented that her strategy is to start with consonants that did not appear in the previous day’s solution.  (Her rules were actually much more complicated, but too hard for me to analyze.)  So I looked at the solution set in order of publication date to see whether use-fresh-consonants is in fact a good strategy.  Here is the data:

Consonants Found in
Previous Day’s Puzzle
Number of
Puzzles
Percent of
Puzzles
0 1112 48%
1 869 38%
2 289 12%
3 43   2%
4 3 ~0%

Almost half the time, there are no shared consonants between the current solution and the previous day’s solution.  Furthermore, it is rare to have three or four shared consonants. So the odds seem to be definitely in your favor if you re-use zero or maybe one consonant from the previous day.

More in  Asked & Answered | Read 4 comments | Subscribe and tell your friends

Long-time readers of the blog are familiar with my long-running series (and sidebar data) on The Trend, which puts short-term swings in the U.S. stock market into perspective vs. its long-term performance.  Being that stock prices have fallen considerably (about 20% since the start of the year, about 14% from a year ago), folks may naturally be concerned what this means and whether people relying on their savings have been getting poorer by the minute.

The point I keep trying to make is that, over the long haul, the U.S. stock market yields (less dividends) about 7 percent a year.  Some years are better, some worse, but over time the market abides by this rate of return.  I hate to put it in terms of “this is all we deserve” but the performance of investments over decades suggests that this is the case.  We can’t help but come back to the trend line.  It reflects how human capitalists judge risk.

The chart below is my latest update on how stock prices of the largest U.S. companies have fared vs. the long-term (1950-2012) trend.  The areas in red show when stock prices were inflated relative to their long-term trend, while the areas in green show when stock prices were depressed:What this chart tells us is, even with this year’s losses, the stock market remains ahead of where we should expect it to be.  Trump juiced it up in 2018 with his corporate tax cuts; pandemic relief legislation and absurdly low interest rates pumped tons more money into the financial system, which found its way into crypto and tech stock speculation.  These bubbles are now deflating, but they haven’t been flattened.  There may be more to come.

The temptation is great, after a given year in which the value of your retirement savings might have gone up 20% to 30%, to believe that those gains are locked in and they are forever yours now.  Sorry, no.  The market has no Maxwell’s Demon that keeps one from losing statistically-outsized gains.  The Trend will, eventually, have its say.

More in  Finance | Be the first to comment | Subscribe and tell your friends

As if we needed another contradistinction.

While Hurricane Fiona ravaged Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, knocking out power and flooding cities and towns and causing billions of dollars of damage…

… Elizabeth II’s coffin-encased remains were majestically transported through the streets of London and then to her family’s estate as her bejeweled crown, like a crumpled gnome, bore final witness to the torturous ceremonial journey of her kingdom’s dead Queen.

The multitude of the Queen’s admirers left marmalade sandwiches along her funeral route, hoping that…?  Signifying their…?

This while Puerto Ricans were left with shit sandwiches along their routes, as they watched their bridges get swept away by raging storm waters.  Signifying their… marginalization.

Was it the Brits’ responsibility to set aside their royal fetish and do something real to serve humanity for a change?  No (I mean, of course) but the real onus is on U.S. politicos and media to stop their fawning over royalty who aren’t even our royalty and to make more than a token effort to serve and respect humans who are actually part of the United States, even though they live on an island that hasn’t been declared a state yet.

Jesus Juxtaposition.  How much longer can we get away with treating Puerto Rico as the socio-political equivalent of Guantanamo, an island without status, a place where bad things happen to poor Americans and no one, not even us, has to care.

More in  News and Comment | Be the first to comment | Subscribe and tell your friends