December 23, 2008

General Puzzlement

There are 18 categories in the 104th King Williams College General Knowledge Quiz, and 10 questions in each category. I've looked at earlier editions of this quiz, and I'd count myself generally knowledgeable if I had one sure answer to a question in each of the eighteen categories. This year's quiz has foiled me again. Here are two of the categories:
1. Which language was developed by a Polish ophthalmologist?
2. Which language of the Romance group has a definite article suffix?
3. Of which European language is the origin unknown, even to the experts?
4. Which geographically Scandinavian language is not linguistically Scandinavian?
5. Which European language is the only survivor of its branch of the Indo-European group?
6. Which Slavonic language is spoken in a country whose national language is not Slavonic?
7. Which European language is spoken by about 1% of the population of Switzerland?
8. Which European language has a past tense form which looks like a future?
9. Which Slavonic language has done away with the case forms
of nouns?
10. Which European national language still retains the dual number?

10) Which river:
1. received the defeated Aunus?
2. floats laden barges by banks of myosote?
3. was central to the non-payment of a mayoral debt?
4. was identified without doubt by the discovery of the initials AD
5. saw Captain Schenk acquire an engineer to replace the deceased Walter?
6. despite being in flood, could be crossed dry-shod following clerical plantar immersion?
7. provided drinks for kine, and horses, and little humorous donkeys?
8. along with Cairo was passed unnoticed by the raft in the fog?
9. was a source of shelly snails and green lettuces?
10. witnessed a case of unwitting filicide?

Now, of these, I'm pretty sure that the answer to 10.8 is the Ohio River in the Adventures of Huckelberry Finn, and I think 7.3 must be Basque. I'd hazard a guess on the rest with a range of confidence rapidly tending toward zero. My modest goal is met if those two are correct, though I have to admit the majority of the questions don't remind me of anything I've ever actually known. But what's a puzzle to me is readily anwered by the specialist as a matter of course; these questions undoubtedly call up an immediate range of unambiguous reference in the minds of those to whom this is the stuff and substance of their knowledge, knowledge which is broadly lingustic in 7 and broadly literary in 10. You can just tell there's a plausible special answer to each of these gnomic utterances in easy reach of those who happen to know.

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