Not Saussure

December 24, 2006

Christmas diversions

Filed under: Uncategorized — notsaussure @ 10:36 am

I’m away for a few days, returning Thursday 28th (I hope) so, in the meantime, via Geoff Coupe, something to keep you busy over the Christmas break:  The King William’s College General Knowledge Paper (pdf).

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the tradition, King William’s College is an independent school on The Isle of Man which traditionally sets its pupils a rather taxing general knowledge quiz to complete over their Christmas holidays.   It’s also printed in The Guardian, where the answers will appear late in January.

Google is unlikely to be a great deal of help.

As a break from this, people might enjoy two wonderful collections of the beautiful, the scholarly and the downright wierd at Giornale Nuovo and the Proceedings of the Athanasius Kircher Society, for which I am also endebted to Mr Coupe for directing me.

Meanwhile, a very Happy Christmas to everyone.



  1. Bloody hell.

    It’s the antithesis of the mainstream of modern education, though, isn’t it? Most parents would hammer on the door of the head teacher to complain if their sprogs were set this test for Christmas homework.

    Comment by Mr Eugenides — December 24, 2006 @ 5:21 pm

  2. Yes, I ignore that every year, it makes an arse of all men.

    Merry Christmas, NS.

    Comment by Flying Rodent — December 26, 2006 @ 1:48 am

  3. This is a joke, right?

    “In the year 1906”?!



    As far as I’m concerned, if a word isn’t in Wikipedia it doesn’t exist. (I may have to invent a word for people like me. Some combination of “philistine” and “elitist”.)

    Comment by Fabian Tassano — December 26, 2006 @ 4:24 pm

  4. Interesting lexical test Fabian applies.

    Comment by james higham — December 27, 2006 @ 3:15 pm

  5. It is a bit of a stinker, but not quite as bad as at first it looks. I think it’s an excellent idea to give the sprogs something like this to do over Christmas, since it should keep them quiet for ages trying to look things up — and I think the pedagogic point in the motto at the start of the quiz is a very good one.

    I’m going to give this a stab over the next few days, and publish my tentative results. Folks are only allowed to mock if they have a go, too.

    In answer to Fabian, ‘bedstefar’ certainly does appear in Wikipedia, only not in the English version.

    Comment by notsaussure — December 28, 2006 @ 6:29 pm

  6. Perhaps I was too ready to shout “rubbish” in the drunken haze of Boxing Day. Looking again, and judging from e.g. Q.2.1 which I actually get, I see much of it is like crosswords (which I’m crap at). Still, while I’m all in favour of clevering up, I think it does no harm to question things which may be being treated with a bit too much reverence. I’m amazed incidentally it’s in the Guardian – it seems so archetypically Telegraph.

    BTW, as further proof of my obtuseness, I only recently got the joke of this blog name. I thought at first it simply expressed distaste for postmodernism. Then the other day the pun hit me. Dah!

    Comment by Fabian Tassano — December 29, 2006 @ 8:57 am

  7. It’s been in the Guardian for years — I was introduced to the quiz about 30 years ago by my uncle, who reckoned it had appeared in that paper for as long as he could remember. I surmise that, at some point in the mists of history, an old boy of the school went on to work on the Groan and was once stuck for a Christmas quiz.

    Glad you appreciate the pun; I had toyed with the idea of calling the blog Sweet Foucault, but decided against it.

    Comment by notsaussure — December 29, 2006 @ 10:34 am

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