Scott Hardie | October 22, 2002
Dan (not Daniel) was frustrated by a riddle that a friend gave him, and came to me for help. I didn't get it, so I went to Matt, who also struggled. After an hour or so, we all gave up and got the answer. As I feared, we had wasted our time, because it the answer wasn't sound. But, in case you want to give it a shot, here's the riddle:

There are two airports in Boston, Airport A and Airport B. Airport A is the largest airport in the largest airport in the United States, but not the largest airport in the Boston. How? [There are not two Bostons, Boston is in the United States, both airports are in the United States.]

Think you have it? Or, wisely, you don't want to bother thinking about it? Highlight below for the answer:

The answer, as stated by Dan's friend: "It's all about grammar. Airport A is indeed the LARGEST in the country. But in Boston there's only two airports. Therefore Airport A isn't the LARGEST, it's the LARGER of the two. When dealing with only two things, it's LARGER. When dealing with more, it's LARGEST. And if you apply that answer to the riddle, you will notice that Airport A isn't the LARGEST in Boston. :-)"

Unfortunately, that's not how grammar works. According to Webster, the superlative form of an adjective (the -est ending) defines the extreme or unsurpassed level or extent of that adjective. It has nothing to do with how many there are. Grammatically speaking, saying that "A is the largest airport" means only that there are no aiports larger than A, whether there are 1, 2, 3, 4, or more airports in the set.

Dumb shit riddle.


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