Monday, January 30, 2006

English Examination - Answers

1. ‘Ghoti’ is pronounced ‘fish’ - according to George Bernard Shaw, anyway. ‘Gh’ as in ‘rough’, ‘o’ as in ‘women’, and ‘ti’ as in ‘motion’.

2. ‘Cleave’, ‘sanction’ and ‘fix’ are contronyms, ie. they have two opposite meanings. (Also known as auto-antonyms or Janus Words.)

Cleave means both ‘rend asunder’ and ‘join together’. ‘Sanction’ means both allow and prohibit. A ‘fix’ can be a cure or a problem.

Other contronyms include ‘fast’ (moving quickly or not at all) and ‘screen’ (show or prevent from seeing). An alarm that ‘goes off’ may be noisy or silenced.

St Paul’s Cathedral was supposedly once described as ‘awful, artificial and amusing’ (meaning awesome, clever and thought-provoking).

3.: ‘Neil A, NASA’s pet, steps as an alien’ is a very long palindrome – same forwards and backwards. Some more good ones:

Madam, I'm Adam.
Marge lets Norah see Sharon’s telegram.

And here’s a really long one:

Dennis, Nell, Edna, Leon, Nedra, Anita, Rolf, Nora, Alice, Carol, Leo, Jane, Reed, Dena, Dale, Basil, Rae, Penny, Lana, Dave, Denny, Lena, Ida, Bernadette, Ben, Ray, Lila, Nina, Jo, Ira, Mara, Sara, Mario, Jan, Ina, Lily, Arne, Bette, Dan, Reba, Diane, Lynn, Ed, Eva, Dana, Lynne, Pearl, Isabel, Ada, Ned, Dee, Rena, Joel, Lora, Cecil, Aaron, Flora, Tina, Arden, Noel, and Ellen sinned.

4. The Russians ended up with an Anti anti anti anti anti anti anti anti anti anti anti anti missile missile missile missile missile missile missile missile missile missile missile missile missile.

5. Woman: without her, man is useless.

6. Dear Tony Blair,
I would like to compliment you, I can't. Stop thinking that you are one of the best Prime Ministers. We have had so many leaders. Go ahead and propose policies and then botch the job, we expect it from you. In years to come, I know we will have better results.

7. They are all correct English sentences.

a) She told her friends were pointless – the ‘her’ is a different person from the ‘she’.

b) The horse rode past the barn fell – the horse which was being ridden past the barn proceeded to fall

c) Dogs dogs dogs bite bite bite - dogs which are bitten by dogs which are themselves bitten by other dogs, do themselves bite things.

d) Badgers badgers badgers badger badger badger badgers badgers badger – Badgers which are badgered (annoyed) by badgers that are in turn badgered by other badgers, do themselves annoy badgers that are badgered by other badgers.

8. Five consecutive ‘and’s:

A man was walking past the ‘Pig and Whistle’ pub when he spotted the publican painting the sign. “Excuse me”, he said. “I think you need bigger gaps between ‘Pig’ and ‘And’ and ‘And’ and ‘Whistle’”.

9. Eleven consecutive ‘had’s:

Smith and Jones were taking an exam which required them to write either ‘I had dinner’ or ‘I had had dinner.’ Jones plumped for the former, Smith opted for the latter. The examiners decided that Smith was correct.

Therefore, Smith, where Jones had had ‘had’, had had ‘had had’; ‘had had’ had had the approval of the examiners.

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