Test the Nation

Last night, I was one of many Canadians to take part in the largest interactive language test ever in the country. It was shown on the CBC and viewers could take the test with pencil and paper, a scorecard out of the newspaper, or live online. I watched the show with a teacher friend of mine and we quietly recorded our answers down in a friendly competition.

There were 70 multiple-choice questions broken down into several different categories. The public broadcasting station tested us on our knowledge of spelling, language terms, modern language, text messaging, common mistakes, plurals, Canadian terms, the arts, nursery rhymes, euphemisms, and word origins.

Here is what I found out.

1. I didn’t know how to correctly spell liaison.
2. I didn’t know the correct term for a period of 1000 years.
3. I didn’t know the author who first used the word “go” instead of “say.”
4. I didn’t know which was proper “between you and I” or “between you and me.”
5. I didn’t know how to spell the term meaning you get what you deserve.
6. I didn’t know that hat-trick wasn’t originally a term in hockey.
7. I didn’t know what a “vamp” was.
8. I had no idea what chronologically gifted meant.
9. I didn’t know the origin of “leisure”
10. I didn’t know where the word “ketchup” originated.

I got a few other questions wrong but these are the ones that stood out for me. How did you do on that list?

Here are the answers.

1. liaison – the extra “i” threw me off
2. millennium – I picked millennia in err
3. Charles Dickens first used “go” as “say”
4. “between you and me” is the proper form
5. “just deserts” isn’t spelled like it is pronounced.
It is an old English term that means things deserved.
6. “hat-trick” was originally used in cricket
7. a “vamp” is a short, thick sock
8. “chronologically gifted” means old
9. leisure means “school”
10. and finally “ketchup” originated in China

How about that? It was fun to take the test and learn a few things along the way. I ended up losing to my friend. I got 45 out of 70 and he was able to get four more questions right than me. Not too bad though. We both passed.

The audience in the television studio was split into distinct groups; ad writers, word gamers, English teachers, comedians, celebrities, and fraternities. The best group in the studio turned out to be the ad writers. I was really pulling for the teachers. At least we held our own.