The answers revealed

Thanks to the hearty core of good sports who played last week’s Word Nymph trivia game. We had enough players for a baseball team: Carmen, Dan, Mom, Paul, Polly, Richard, Sharon, Sheree and The Naked Listener (all the way from Hong Kong). Kudos to you all, but where was everyone on Saturday? Perhaps you were doing what I was doing: while at the beach, I was indoors watching the final round of the National Geography Bee.

We all had the chance to learn a little something last week, perhaps I as much as anyone. While I had researched the answers ahead of time, you’ve shown us that there is more than one correct answer for most of the questions. As interestingly, we saw proof of the geographic and cultural nuances that make our world’s linguistic diversity so rich. If you are just now tuning in, go back and read the comments from last week’s posts.

So here are the prepared answers. Add a tittle, half a hash-bang and whatever else you like, and let’s call it a tie (though Sharon clearly owned the ambigrams).

Q.  What two-letter word in English has more meanings than any other two-letter word?
A.  Up

Q.  What is the term for the dot placed over the lower case i and j?
A. This is called a superscript dot. According to Oxford dictionaries, the dot was added to the letter i in the Middle Ages to distinguish the letter (in manuscripts) from adjacent vertical strokes in such letters as u, m, and n. J is a variant form of i, which emerged at this time and subsequently became a separate letter.

Q.  What is the typographically correct term for the pound sign, or the number sign?
A.  Octothorp. For more uncommon typography glyphs, see here.

Q.  We know that a word that is spelled the same forward and backward is a palindrome. What is the name of a word that reads the same upside down as right side up, or the same in a mirror, when certain typography is applied?
A.  Ambigram. There are many types, depending upon how the written or typed word is rotated. Apparently, ambigrams are quite popular tattoo selections, presumably so that they can be read as body parts move.

Q.  Readers in some countries use double quotation marks that look “like this.” In others, quoted text is placed inside guillemets to set off certain portions of text. What do guillemets look like?
A.  Guillemets look like double greater-than and less-than signs, << like this >>.

Q.  What is a zeugma?
A. A zeugma is a figure of speech that joins two or more parts of a sentence with a single common verb or noun, in such a manner that it applies to each in a different sense. Examples:

  • From an Alanis Morissette’s song: You held your breath and the door for me.
  • The addict kicked the habit and then the bucket.
  • He lost his coat and his temper.

Subsets of the zeugma include prozeugma, mesozeugma, hypozeugma and diazeugma.

3 Comments

Filed under All Things Wordish

3 responses to “The answers revealed

  1. I would have flunked. Love the word octothorp! Wonder how I can throw that around so that it sounds completely natural.

  2. Polly

    I had some general idea on most of them, but I had to look up zeugma. Your readers really know their stuff!

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