HERE’S something about Latinisms that makes them stand out as competition words. Perhaps it’s their distribution across the comps. Azed gave MARGINALIA and AUXESIS close together is 2007, and VIDENDA and FACETIAE two months apart in 2017. Now we have LITERATIM and PLACITUM separated by the same short gap. These words tend to offer friendly letters for wordplay, but less scope for inventive definitions, having precise meanings.
The grid-fill this month is median Azed, with no especially tortuous wordplay. There seems to be an abundance of boats, sailors and seafood catches in the clues and solutions, but the only unfamiliar reference is likely to be the Irish-born writer at 20 across.
1. System of poetic correspondence I extracted from bobbing dinghy dance CYNGHANEDD (anag. less I) Azed sets himself a challenge with a Welsh loan-word. The shortage of (English) vowels forces an enhanced, and improbable, anagram. Competitors will be relieved that Azed chose to tackle this one himself.
11. Greeting that’s international, accepted in company CIAO (I a in Co) This solution is a regular visitor to barred cryptics, and Azed gives it a very neat clue that’s close to & lit. in its surface reading.
14. Citizen of sultanate, returning very soon? OMANI (in a mo, rev.) It’s satisfying when the word allows a whole phrase to be indicated in the wordplay.
16. Marine invertebrates chippy’s half rejected in a foreign street, sent back ECHIURA (chi(ppy) in a rue, rev.) Dr Watson wondered if the ‘chippy’ was intended to be one of the oyster-eaters from The Walrus and the Carpenter, but it’s more likely Azed had in mind a fish-and-chip shop rejecting the spoonworms.
20. English engraved in tablet for Irish-born writer STEELE (E in stele) The reference is to Sir Richard Steele, best known as one of the founders of the original Spectator and Tatler periodicals in the early 18c.
28. Lad excited with bust shown round for all to see, not quite fully developed SUBADULT (U in anag.) The combination of sexuality and underdevelopment here is a little uncomfortable.
30. XI gutted with victory likewise treated as grudge? ENVY (e(leve)n v(ictor)y) The double evisceration makes for an original and less than obvious wordplay. ‘Grudge’ is an old meaning of envy as a verb.
4. Bird arranged twig to tidy up nesting GODWIT (do, rev., in anag.) One of the cleverest surfaces in the puzzle, making good use of ‘nesting’.
6. Drains on each side going into hospital that’s erected NALLAS (all in san, rev.) ‘On each side’ often points to RL or LR in clues, but here it’s a synonym for ‘all’, as in ‘nil all’.
8. Glen, David or Jonathan dropping by? DIMBLE (Dimble(by)) It’s the sibling broadcasters you need, not the biblical best friends.
19. I’m served in the manner of the bargeman’s wife, mustily dressed MYTILUS (anag.) More marine invertebrates, though this time more palatable than the echiura. Mussels may be served ‘à la marnière’, which can mean a female sailor or bargee (not necessarily the wife of one, of course).
23. Keep quiet about debt settlement in historical bailment MUTUUM (utu in mum) A couple of handy Scrabble words. Utu is a Maori term for a debt repayment, and the solution is an old legal agreement involving the loan of goods.
25. Appearing in pink in dance that’s a bit informal KINDA (hidden) A great opportunity to disguise the definition, i.e. ‘a bit’ informally.
29. Loud greeting preferred in ‘yoofspeak’ FAVE (f ave) What is this ‘yoofspeak’ that Azed mentions? OED traces ‘fave’ back to 1938, while ‘yoof’ is more associated with Janet Street-Porter’s stint as the BBC’s Head of Youth Features in the late 1980s.
Across: 12. PLACITUM; 13. PREDY (d in prey); 15. WELL BOAT (anag. incl. l); 18. SMITHY (anag. incl. i); 21. SYNCOM (comp. anag. incl. go, (spac)e); 24. COSTER (2 mngs.); 27. URICASE (ur(t)icas + E); 28. LIGNITIC (anag. + I C); 30. ELVEN (L in even); 31. ARIAN (aria n; see Aries); 34. FLAME TREES (metre in anag.).
Down: 2. YIRK (y + irk); 3. NAETHING (h in anag.); 5. ALMERY (LM in aery; see ambry); 7. E COLI (eco + il(ls), rev.); 9. TUNABLE (nab in anag.); 10. SMITHEREEN (mither in seen; see moider); 13. PRESS FLESH (press + h(ER)self, rev.); 17. PETALINE (a in pet line); 23. CUNEAL (un in anag.; i.e. wedge shoe); 24. CRIBLÉ (comp. anag.); 25. SCORER (C in sorer).