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“Which word begins with “y” and looks like an axe in this picture?” (stackexchange.com)
615 points by Gigablah on June 30, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 158 comments

This reminds me of the scene in Silicon Valley where Peter Gregory notices the popularity of Burger King, the number of sesame seeds they use, and remembers that sesame seeds only grow in Myanmar, Brazil, and Indonesia - the former two of which have large Cicada populations that emerge at different times. After some research, he finds that this is about to occur simultaneously in both countries for the first time in a couple of centuries. Apparently Indonesia doesn't have cicadas, so he purchases some surprisingly cheap Indonesian sesame seed futures based on the expectation that the price will spike next year.

Whoever did the detective work in the top answer to this article should get into investing, if they aren't already.

That reminds me of a scene from Liar's Poker, I wonder if it was the inspiration:

Remember Chernobyl? When news broke that the Soviet nuclear reactor had exploded, Alexander called. Only minutes before, yet Alexander had already bought the equivalent of two supertankers of crude oil. The focus of investor attention was on the New York Stock Exchange, he said. In particular it was on any company involved in nuclear power. The stocks of those companies were plummeting. Never mind that, he said. He had just purchased, on behalf on his clients, oil futures. Instantly in his mind less supply of nuclear power equaled more demand for oil, and he was right. His investors made a large killing.

Minutes later, Alexander called back. “Buy potatoes,” he said. “Gotta hop.” Then he hung up. Of course. A cloud of fallout would threaten European food and water supplies, including the potato crop, placing a premium on uncontaminated American substitutes. Perhaps a few folks other than potato farmers think of the price of potatoes in America minutes after the explosion of a nuclear reactor in Russia, but I have never met them.

> Whoever did the detective work in the top answer to this article should get into investing, if they aren't already.

I know some person who does this kind of detective work, let's express it this way: as a private, really time-intense hobby. Among others he revealed a complicated case of insolvency fraud and investment fraud involving multiple countries and stooges. The sole reason he started all this detective work was because some customer was not willing to pay him as agreed for a web design job that he did (surely not more than 2000 €) - you cannot make up such a reason and story.

While he has a lot of talent for this kind of detective work, I would never give or lend him any money for the single reason that he simply has not the slightest magic touch for making money.

Such excellent acting.

RIP Christopher Evan Welch

i certainly have to agree entirely with what you said. i just recently got into watching silicon valley and have been binge watching it, and you definitely have a point with how the analysis in the top answer is very reminiscent of the mentality that Peter Gregory would so frequently display.

Sesame seed production – 2014 Country Production (tonnes) Tanzania 1,138,920 India 811,000 Sudan 721,000 China 629,900 Myanmar 519,400 Nigeria 434,990 World 6,235,530

⅄xe. See my comment below.

which episode?

First season, third episode: "Articles of Incorporation". What did I won? ^__^;

The pilot.

It's not the pilot, but it's definitely in the first few episodes.

Oh sorry, thanks for the correction, I really did confidently believe it was the final scene in the pilot for some reason. Wish I could delete my comment.

This is the kind of deep investigation of a super specific issue I always enjoy reading. This is what I thought the internet would be, 20 years ago.

It's a sign of a "cognitive surplus", because we have more educated people now than we have jobs for them to do. Also it's a sign of how these sites get people to work for them for free, and concentrate huge amounts of other people's work for their own benefit. This poster got nothing for all that work, but SE still gets advertising revenue driven by interest in the content.

Oh please. It's just someone enjoying a challenge and hunting down something for gratification. Let's not make it out to be more than it is. There have always been people that go above and beyond for intellectual gratification and out of nothing more than curiosity.

There have always been people willing to do things like this for "no good reason" and for nothing in return since time immemorial. I don't want to live in a world devoid of such awesomeness. I've done it myself and hope to continue to do so, even being cognizant as I am that someone may benefit from my toils without my making a buck. If I spend a month developing an open source library that does something novel and release it under a liberal license (MIT, BSD) on GitHub, am I not doing the same sort of thing every day?

This SE answer is awesome and it's helpful and insightful; but it isn't an example of capitalism at work and poor people being fleeced out of their time and money so the big guy can make a buck.

Respect to the poster. That was some legit research.

I agree. The stack exchange is a place I whitelist in my adblocker. They seem to take ads and ad quality seriously, they provided very useful and interesting content, and they employ a pretty excellent team. I don't see the problem. It seems like what you'd hope for from the situation.

> This poster got nothing for all that work

@sp332, you've submitted 693 items to HN, and you've made thousands of comments.

What did you get for all that work?

Well they're not paying me. Why?

> This poster got nothing for all that work

Not all utility is money. The poster voluntarily spent time and energy creating that response, and voluntary exchange is mutually beneficial. So the poster got something for all that work, but it wasn't money.

This poster got nothing for all that work

What's your basis for this claim? I can see saying "this poster received no financial compensation for all this work" but that's a different claim. It seems to me that the poster must have received somethingp[1], or they would not have put the effort forth in the first place.

[1]: where "something" could be self-satisfaction, ego-boost, intellectual gratification, or any number of other non-financial rewards.

I think your line of thinking only implies the poster believed that he would receive a rewards, not that he did receive a reward (he may have regretted doing the work afterwards).

Isn't that a bit like saying that night clubs get their cooler / more attractive patrons to work for them for free, by attracting the wider masses?

Night clubs actually pay their DJs, bartenders, bouncers, etc. And they might comp more attractive patrons, which isn't quite the same as paying them but it's not nothing.

There are nightclubs in Vegas that pay attractive women to show up and spend some time on the dance floor.

And then there's a community discussing the work and it's motivations. Maybe people is driven more by curiosity than money.

another example that there is not enough work to go around is that if you go into any downtown anywhere in the world at 7 pm to 8 p.m. you will see people drinking beer in bars.

These same people could still be working, since there is no reason they shouldn't be in an office, factory, etc, for a full 14-hour workday. Clearly there is just not enough work to go around, which manifests itself as people sitting around drinking or going on fun Internet sleuthing that nobody would mistake for work.

(well, except that one guy.)

Children are the same way. All that time they spend playing could be spent in a factory making sneakers.

I don't know about your kids, but mine would make some shitty sneakers :-)

They'll be fine after a few days of training.

> if go into any downtown anywhere in the world at 7 pm to 8 p.m. you will see people drinking beer in bars.

Those people are still working, they just don't know it

People write all sorts of nonsense for newspapers and get paid for it. Just because you personally don't value some labour doesn't mean it's not valuable labour.

I'm not arguing from first principles here. Workforce participation is down. This is just a symptom. I'm not against having free time, but against companies who ask you to work for them for free. If people had the ability to make money with their time and effort, that guy would be more likely to be paid for his post.

SE provides a venue for these types of discussions, and in exchange does a small amount of advertising to make the venture profitable. How is that exploitative in any sense of the word? Do you have the same attitude towards social clubs that charge fees?

I don't go to SE for the "venue". I usually get there via a Google search, which means the only draw is the content. And hopefully Google would give me the same info if it were on any other site that paid their writers.

you don't go for the venue, but others do - the asker and the answerer who generated the content in the first place. You're just getting the benefit of their exchange due to SE's existence. I don't understand why you have an issue with SE hosting content in exchange for permission to advertise on it. I have to pay amazon/digitalocean to host my content - if it costs something for a host to provide it then they can either make the money back somehow or constantly lose money.

But the only thing SE has to offer is other people's content. And I don't have a problem with them making money, but with not sharing any with the people who are the reason the site gets money. They're not even middlemen who take a cut, they're getting 100% of the revenue.

but that implies that content is the only valuable thing, and distribution and hosting are negligible. If anything, it's the other way around - content is abundant and quality distribution is the hard problem. That's the reason the marketing industry is one of the largest around.

If people want to try to make money from their Q&As they can post them on their own site and either charge for access or advertise, but then they'll need to market it to get revenue so then they become like an SE but only for their own content and they'll make very little money anyway. That's basically the position of a professional blogger and very few of those make any real money.

Right, that's pretty much my whole point. Money gets concentrated. Employment is low.

yeah - people who provide services become successful. It's a pretty good system as long as we can keep the less successful people out of poverty. Equality of outcome is possibly the worst idea in history.

But we're not keeping them out of poverty. Facebook has a homeless encampment directly across the street. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/31/facebook-cam... Are you in favor of any kind of equality?

of course - equality under the law. People like to act like equality of outcome is a natural extension from legal equality but it simply isn't.

I know we don't keep people out of poverty right now, and that's something that needs to be fixed. But if you think equality of outcome (i.e. eliminating economic disparity) is the solution to that then you may want to read up on the USSR and Maoist China. Capitalism is pretty good at raising the living standard of the whole population, even if it does end up creating billionaires at the same time.

I'm in favor of democracy. I think the government should represent each person's interests equally no matter how rich they are. I think the only reason we didn't have a violent worker's revolution in America is that we were able to pass the socialist platform democratically.

welfare existed long before socialism and is pretty distinct. Systems of welfare were passed democratically, as they should be. The main reason the West in general didn't have any worker's revolutions (excluding Spain) is that the capitalism+welfare situation we have actually works really well.

The implicit assumption here is the only reason people don't spend 100% of their time working is the inability to find an employer.

No, I'm saying people are less likely to work for free when they can find work that pays instead. Seeing lots of people do work for free is a symptom that lots of people are underemployed.

Only because you've classified every activity as "work". People have hobbies where they do things purely for entertainment.

So if HN added advertising to support the site, you would totally stop posting here, right?

Not unless I could find a place that would pay better for my posts.

The smaller stack exchanges are a really wonderful source of content I never thought I needed to know. I always check out the "hot network questions" side panel when I land on stack overflow and almost always find something interesting.

I always get sucked in to the addicting Hot Network Questions as well when I land on Stack Overflow, which is why I need to block the entire sidebar so that I can get some work done!


I also block the Hot Network Questions on Stack Exchange sites while at work – though not when using my home profile. As a Firefox user, I simply added the following lines to my `userContent.css`:

        #hot-network-questions {
            display: none;

I do this too! Firefox - uBlock's "Block Element" feature.

I always thought they were about "networking" as in IT so they'd really confuse me.

It's a shame that the internet devolved into cat pictures, pervasive advertisements, and political shouting matches. On the other hand, there are still some great communities out there for great discussion. I consider HN to be one of them.

It didn't devolve - it expanded. There is still plenty of great content out there, it's just mixed with a lot of other content of varying quality.

Maybe "diluted" is a fitting word.

Not really, "dilution" implies that when the Internet grows to include another crappy site everything else in the "solution" is slightly crappier. If a new web site for cat pictures or political shouting matches opens up tomorrow, it does not affect the quality and usefulness of HN.

No, but I've seen plenty of good subreddits go bad after a flood of new users!

Perhaps unintuitively, the Something Awful forums are another relatively small, intelligent community.

I genuinely worry about the day the SA forums get shut down for whatever reason. I've been posting there since 2003 and it's my first stop on the 'daily internet check' ritual.

Exactly. I started skimming the article like I do most these days, scrolling to the punch line while collecting the gist. When I got to the part about the ball being a knock-off, I was struck with excitement because I knew I wanted to read this whole thing, word for word.

Almost as good as the story about the missing German family (http://www.otherhand.org/home-page/search-and-rescue/the-hun...)!

What an interesting story! Thanks for sharing.

The way it's written, and the theme, remind me of: http://www.angelfire.com/trek/caver/page1.html

Isn't the internet just a reflection of humanity, at this point?

A Point. We seem to make a lot of cost-benefit analyses for every decision make instead of just doing something because it's good to do. We living in the age of matured internet seemed to be only interested in contents that could help us make a point (Read: ROI) during a discussion or debate unlike people earlier just wanted to know something with no reason. Hence triviality didn't come as a filter.

Pretty sure we had stuff like that in 1997!

I would love to see a deep investigation proving/disproving this point

Somewhat related: USENET's culture was destroyed as early at 1993.


pours one out for my homies

More seriously, I sometimes sorta miss USENET. However, my ISP actually still provisions it. It has been a while, but I have gone back to check it out. It's nothing like I remember, so I don't end up making it a point to check the groups regularly and I leave it alone for a few more years.

I've always loved this kind of stuff from Quora, for example:


You were right!

I'm happy to report there is a website specifically for investigations like this:


Oh internet, never change.

you should read some of /pol/'s analysis of the email leaks from last year: it was truly a wonder of crowd-sourced investigation. They even set up meta investigators (managers?) to help guide the anonymous users' investigations to make sure that all of the emails got read and categorized.

it was quite fun to be a part of, actually.

Once you strip out the racist and homophobic filler was it actually good analysis?

It was. Very professional, considering it was all anonymous. But there were high standards and major findings had to be verified before being disseminated.

A long time ago I worked as a "designer" for somebody who owned a chain of medium retail stores in Mexico and a also biggish printshop. When there was a (printed) product was selling very well, he would go to me and ask me to make one as similar as possible so he can manufacture it and get more of the profits.

He did it all the time and didn't care at all for the quality of the product. At first I tried to make the illustrations myself or actually try to do an original spin on the product, but he put pressure to just pull a clip art and call it a day.

Some times I tried to hide some in-jokes or innappropiate stuff just to see if anybody noticed. For example, he once got me to to copy a whole book on some catholic saint, on a hurry, and refuse to pay some one to proff-read it. So I intentionally replaced some words here and there to change the meaning and I even changed the name of the saint to "Batman" in the middle of the book. Nobody ever noticed.

So my guess is that whoever designed this ball is on a similar situation and did put even less effort into doing it, than whoever has the third top answer in the Stackoverflow post. Or maybe she even put a swedish axe just to see if anybody would notice.

The top answer is a picture of the use of Yxa in a Swedish alphabet learning book, yet there's still people here clinging to the yellow paint tube theory.

Incredible. Not sure what cognitive bias is at play here (or more charitably: perhaps they didn't scroll down).

EDIT: Some say these are pictures of a paint tube and some yellow paint: https://jimthechairmaker.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/my-carving...

The fact that an axe is used in the exact same way in the Swedish book is very strong evidence. There's prior art.

That top answer is hardly conclusive - it's definitely a possibility, but given the weird choices in the art for the "axe" (bendy handle, not a defined edge at the bottom) - I buy it could have been a yellow paint tube.

Nouns beginning with Y are not exactly easy to come across (the official "Yo-Yo" is hardly as common as the other words on the ball), and as has been pointed out, it's entirely possible the art was worked on by multiple people and changed or whatever.

Maybe the wrong-language thing is more likely (the U-boat choice is the thing that makes me lean this way the most), but I don't think the yellow paint tube idea is completely impossible.

> I buy it could have been a yellow paint tube.

I don't know how anyone would come to that conclusion. It's "definitely not possibly" (adverb chaining, really?) a tube squirting yellow in image. If ascribing modern symbolism to images rather than what's portrayed plainly, there's no reason that any of the images are symbolic of words starting with the appropriate letters.

I mean, it's clearly not a well designed piece, otherwise this whole discussion wouldn't be here.

I could easily say "no one would ever draw an axe with a bendy handle". The intent is obviously unclear given all this discussion.


A paint tube for colour is an icon that exists and gets used. The representation on the ball isn't far enough off I would rule it out.

> Nouns beginning with Y are not exactly easy to come across

There are a lot of animals on this ball. How about "Yak"?

A semi-esoteric bovid does not strike me as easily distinguishable given the style of the illustrations.

"Toddler Words | Words Starting With Y" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuR7ao20nko

Yogurt, Yak, Yam, Yarn. There really just aren't a lot of options.

I could probably draw a yurt. That'd be pretty easy.

I was like 28 years old before I'd heard of a yurt.

See? You should have had an alphabet ball.

So true. I was even older than that when I first heard (today) of an "yaxe".

Hahahaha this killed me, I'd upvote more times if I could.

I mean they managed to get xylophone.

There's no proof yet, so your judgement is speculative and presumptuous, even if the right answer turns out to be Yxa. The top answer is awesome, and probably right, but who knows for sure? Do you? It's top because of popularity and not because he solved it. Since all answers including the top answer suppose this was a mistake, it's easy to imagine it being the result of a stupid mistake as opposed to one that feels rational. If this turned out to be a stupid mistake and that yellow or something other than Yxa is the right answer, will you reflect on where the cognitive bias lies?

Presumptuous, huh? There is no absolute proof of anything, but the Swedish axe image is substantial proof to me.

I suppose that when the designer comes forward and explains the way the image was chosen, there will be people who argue the designer is lying, or misremembering, or trying to hide the fact that their drawing was interpreted the wrong way.

This way UFOs, 9-11 Truthers, and homeopathy lies.

Yes, declaring that anyone who doesn't believe that Yxa is the answer is suffering from cognitive bias is definitely presumptuous. That statement is absolutely making assumptions, and using that to cast unwarranted negative aspersions on anyone who disagrees with you.

And you just did it again by referring to UFOs and homeopathy. This is not a case of conspiracy, this is a case of people looking for possibilities. By making analogies to truthers, and painting a conspiracy theory in advance, you are undermining Dan Bron's work and demonstrating your own cognitive bias.

You're choosing which proof to believe. The image of the (presumed) axe on the ball is yellow, that's also "substantial proof". It is, in fact, yellow. It's not unreasonable to suggest that there's better direct evidence, and a simpler explanation, for the "yellow" answer than there is for the "Yxa" answer.

Maybe the designer was Asian and accidentally saw the Y as an upside-down A, maybe "axe" was the word they were going for. Maybe the designer was Asian and used yuè, the pinyin word for axe. (https://english.stackexchange.com/a/395521)

It's not likely that a definitive answer will be found, so let's enjoy reading and speculating about it, bask in the awesomeness of Dan Bron's narrative and presentation, and lay off the unjustifiable holier-than-thou attitude that there's only one possible answer.

I think your judgement about me is as flawed as your judgement of the axe situation. Sorry, I won't be responding further.

"Presumptive" would have been a better word.

Sounds like you didn't read through the whole story. This particular ball is not made by the Swedish company.

Probably people trying to come up with different answers for the points.

I get that they do on the linked page, as they are working through the problem.

What I don't understand is they do it here, with the benefit of having all the information laid out before them.

Assuming this was made in China, there are two sources of confusion that could lead to this mix up.

1. The letter 'A' and an upside down Y-shaped character share the same key on a Chinese/English key board. This could lead to an unintended subconscious relationship between these symbol shapes.[1]

2. The orientation of these characters abruptly changed on the ball graphic between W and Q, leaving the orientation of the Y-shaped letter unclear to someone with minimal familiarity of Latin letters. An upside down Y is also easy to confuse with the letter A if you are not familiar.

This all assumes that Axe was the first common-'A' word selected. Perhaps they postponed the choice of the common-'Y' word given it is challenging. After misattributing Y for A, then someone just added an Apple graphic.

[1] https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/ef/St...


I found the BALL manufacturer!!!! https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/Alphabets-print-ball_... (not able to comment on the original thread on the page bc I do not have the 50 points needed. Pls post a link there to further the discovery)

Posted as a comment on the main answer: https://english.stackexchange.com/a/395385/63201

Direct link to the comment: https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/395382/which-wor... (For future reference, you can get that link by clicking the timestamp next to the comment.)

Can you tell me more about your process? How did you hunt this down?

I thought as the shop owner. Where would I buy things for cheap. Alibaba was my first thought. Went there and searched for the ball... bingo!

Now I am hot on the trail of unraveling the entire mystery...

What I am now doing is to think like the person who designed it. The more I can be in their shoes the better. This has led me to find the discrepancies from the original ball and this one (the knockoff). I have focused on what is different between the two. So far it is Y. V. and U which has led me to look for clip art that is similar between them. I am not of the belief that it is an axe (yxa)until it is proven. My first search was the other products from the company to see if it was used other places/products to no avail. Now I am finding the clip art in alphabet sets and flashcards. The more that are similar will lead to the answer(s).

I found only one u-boat flashcard http://www.picturesof.net/_images_300/U_Is_For_U_Boat_Alphab... but now do not think that is the actual image.

Now looking for clipart that has V is for volcano. Found a few and now looking for axes etc but...

My current theory is that it is NOT an ax or yxa but paint for Yellow like the second post shows. My photoshop skills are not great but I think it is a combination from this image http://clipground.com/image-post/90353-red-color-tube-clipar... or this image http://clipground.com/image-post/90353-red-color-tube-clipar... (I also think that it does not have to be originally yellow as that is a simple change to do in photoshop so the other colors can work) The caps in this picture are very close as are the paint threads and my guess is that they can be overlaid with near perfection if my photoshop skills allowed. I was led to this site because of the image for U-boat is here on the same site http://clipground.com/image-post/62547-submarine-boat-clipar...

Would love to see a picture of the V image on the ball to see which of these https://www.google.com/search?q=v+is+for+volcano+clipart&cli... are the image.

I now see the ball I found and believe that the ax/yxa is an axe in the ball but has been changed in the OP ball to another variation. Off to find that variation via the other changes like volcano etc.

I'm excited to see what you find! I sent you a message on Twitter, but it's probably easier to communicate here.

I found the axe/yxa image that is/was used. See the link to the comment https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14673668

Dude. You are my hero.

This was such a delightful read. A quote from the wonderful Okja recently released on Netflix: "Never mistranslate!"... unless you make balls for toddlers!

In fairness, there aren't a lot of good choices for Y.

year yell yacht yellow yearling yeti yoga

I'd probably go with yoga, myself.

The original Hedstrom ball used a yo-yo.

Looking at posters online, I find the most common, in order, are Yo-Yo, Yacht, Yak, and Yellow.

Why not a yatagan?

Too obscure.

You look at the axe and wonder: "why?" :)

Yule. For Yuletide

I'm thrilled that you created an account to post specifically this comment. It is, indeed, a yule answer.

I tried to google that without much success. What is that?

Which is a phrase used much more in modern Swedish than English.

That's what I came to guess too.

Tube of paint squeezing out some yellow sounds reasonable.

25 physical. 1 abstract. Internet throws Occam's razor out the window.

25 English, 1 Swedish.

I see no harm in overthinking things considering the subject is rather amusing. I see an axe.

U-Boat instead of submarine makes that 24 to 2, rather.

No one this side of WWII uses the term U-Boat in America. U is much more commonly associated with Umbrella in kids' books here.

Agreed. I actually considered pointing out that in my original comment.

As an American with a fascination in documentaries I have heard the term a lot but most consider it to be very specific to military submarines operated by Germany in the first and second world wars only. I suppose the term Unterseeboot still sees usage outside of the States these days.

FWIW, in America, modern submarines are exclusively called "boats" by people who work on and around them (regardless of size). Definitely not "u-boats." Never heard anyone outside the submarine community say "boat" though and I've had people in the general public try to "correct" me when I said "boat" to refer to a submarine.

I see no harm either, although what I found to be rather amusing was the demonstrable power of a leading question.

The dress is white and gold.

Except that neither the axe head nor the intersection between it and the yellow look anything at all like that.

Perhaps the concept artist drew poorly a tube of acrylic paint squeezing some yellow goop and the person responsible for the final product couldn't figure out what the heck they were looking at, but said "Well it looks like an axe to me" (in some language other than English) and changed it accordingly.

I'm with you. That "handle" looks like paint to me.

Looks like a scroll-end axe handle to me.

Looks like the top of a spray-can to me, spraying yellow paint.

One of the best guerilla marketing tactics I've seen in a while.

Yep, those Chinese bootleggers of a Swedish children's toy are gonna be rolling in it.

I thought the Worm was a Maggot.

My initial impression was mealworm.

Now let's see if we can solve one of /r/whatisthisthing's most longstanding mysteries: What does the J stand for on this blanket?


What is N?


Happily I see that my pet theory involving yaks is represented in the answers; I can now go back to work.

"Y? You Axe..."

I've always found English SE to be interesting, because it varies between questions like this with extremely well thought up answers and questions that are so-so.

We've all been trolled by a toy artist...

It may still be an axe, but with a silent Y in the front. A 'yaxe', if you will.

Holy schnikes. I'd love to have that much free time ... and powers of insight.

Looks like yellow paint being sprayed out of the top of a spray paint can

And now, back to my thesis.

Can you post it again? That link just leads to a comment which says "[dead]". I'm new to HN. I may be doing something wrong.

Don't y'all have y'own axes?

yellow brick road? Could be a castle at the end.


Does the picture look anything like a yoke?

The answer is one of the top comments:

> Yellow. Looks like a squiggle of yellow oil paint squeezing out of a short, fat tube.

Possible, but there's ample evidence around the Yxa (Swedish name for axe) theory. Even use in a similar context: https://i.stack.imgur.com/LNTu2.jpg https://i.stack.imgur.com/xzaQ9.jpg And it matches the "U" for "U-Boat", which apparently would be more common in Swedish (Ubåt) to refer to a submarine. It does require you believe whoever made the ball mixed Swedish and English, which seems possible given that it is a Chinese knockoff of a Hedstrom product.

"Ubåt" is the most common word for submarine in Swedish, and there is also a little used longer version "undervattensbåt" which also starts with "U".

The top response is far more convincing (it's a loan word from Swedish, and it's a knock-off ball, making such mistakes more likely).

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