The world’s easiest quiz… or is it?

The English language has often been condemned for its incredibly nonsensical grammar rules, along with all the exceptions to the rules and so on. I speak a couple of other languages as well as English (though none of them very well) and I have the utmost respect for anyone that learns English when it’s not their native tongue. It’s hard enough for those of us born in English-speaking countries to get everything about our language correct.

Well, here’s a test that should have you smiling to yourself and it’s also a great example of how the English language can confuse foreigners and English-speaking natives alike. You only need to get four out of ten correct to pass this test. Scroll down for the answers once you’ve pondered the questions.

1. How long did the Hundred Years’ War last?

2. Which country makes Panama hats?

3. From which animal do we get cat gut?

4. In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?

5. What is a camel’s hair brush made of?

6. The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?

7. What was King George VI’s first name?

8. What color is a purple finch?

9. Where are Chinese gooseberries from?

10. What is the color of the black box in a commercial aeroplane?

So, do you think you got at least four of them right? Remember my comments about the English language before the quiz? That should give you some idea of what to expect. Scroll down a bit for the answers…
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1. How long did the Hundred Years War last?

116 years – fought between France and England, it ran from 1337 to 1453. There are those that might suggest it is still going.

2. Which country makes Panama hats?

Ecuador – made from the plaited leaves of the panama-hat palm (Carludovica palmata). Despite the name, genuine Panama hats are made in Ecuador, not Panama. The etymology of the name is a bit uncertain.

3. From which animal do we get cat gut?

Sheep or goat, or occasionally the hog, horse, mule, pig, and donkey. Never cats. Stupid English language. Well, maybe not. Some people suggest it comes from the term kitgut, where kit means fiddle.

4. In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?

November – this one is a bit more cheeky than the others. It’s usually celebrated on October 25th by the old Julian calendar, which is November 7th by the Gregorian calendar.

5. What is a camel’s hair brush made of?

Squirrel fur – or pretty much any cheap fur other than a camel. Which is probably just as well. A real camel hair brush would be one rough and stinky item.

6. The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?

Dogs – and you thought it was the little yellow bird that Sylvester always tries to eat. Again the etymology is uncertain, but most likely derived from the Latin term Insularia Canaria, meaning Island of the Dogs, a name applied originally only to the island of Gran Canaria.

7. What was King George VI’s first name?

Albert – this is just more of that crazy and nonsensical British aristocracy at work. When have you ever known the Royal family to make any kind of sense? King George VI’s full name was Albert Frederick Arthur George, the second son of King George V and not expected to ascend to the throne. His older brother Edward always overshadowed him, but Edward was known as David. Had he inherited the throne he would probably have been called George too. Or perhaps Daisy. Who knows. Or even cares.

8. What color is a purple finch?

Crimson – this is probably just some colour-blind ornithologist messing things up for everyone else. According to a Canadian museum website: “Whoever gave the Purple Finch its name must have been colour blind as the Purple Finch is definitely not purple, it is more the colour of raspberries.” (http://museum.gov.ns.ca/mnh/nature/winbirds/colour/c07.htm) I can just see the ornithologists facing off now, binoculars and thermos flasks raised threateningly.

9. Where are Chinese gooseberries from?

New Zealand – it’s just another name for Kiwi Fruit. A stupid name, with no basis in any kind of fact, but just another name. However, the question is loaded. The fruit’s history does date back to the Chang Kiang Valley of China, though it was exported to other countries from the mid-1800s and is now produced in New Zealand, the United States, Italy, Japan, France, Greece, Spain, Australia and Chile.

10. What is the color of the black box in a commercial airplane?

Orange – OK, by now you knew that ‘black’ was going to be the wrong answer. The variety of recording devices known collectively as black boxes are usually bright red, orange or yellow to make them easier to see among the wreckage of a plane. Although another question does arise. If the “black” box is so indestructible and can be found in otherwise unrecognisable debris, why isn’t the whole plane made of the same material?

So there you go. Don’t say you haven’t learned anything today.

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