"You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test."
The above is a "neologism"---a number of peculiar words, phrases, pronunciations, semantic or linguistic errors that have become part of popular folklore. That particular neologism was uttered by George W. Bush, and it could show up on an IQ test.
"What?" I hear you ask.
This Friday Gordon and I will fly to Toronto to tape a quiz show called Test The Nation. It's very popular in the UK, and this will be the Canadian version. The format for this particular show is an English Language test, and will include different groups: teachers, ad executives, word gamesters, comedians, sorority/fraternity kids, and my group...[romance] authors.
Test the Nation is a quiz-style, national IQ test. It's been done in 20+ other countries and now it's Canada's turn. The participants are made up of teams who compete against each other in general knowledge categories, and people at home can play along during the live show. At the end, scores are tallied. The winning team is announced and also...the winning individual.
There are no monetary prizes, but I'm hoping for...a T-shirt?
"What an incredible opportunity to make a complete ass of yourself on national TV," I hear you say.
To which I respond, "Yup." And add another Bush neologism: "Rarely is the question asked, is our children learning?"
Test The Nation will be aired in late August, just in time for the start of the new school year.
Here is some (more) of what we were told will (might?) be covered:
TERMS OF VENERY:
Terms of venery are the special words and phrases applicable to the hunting world, and it was an indication of good breeding and knowledge to know the special term for a company of animals. Here are some common and less-common collective nouns for animals:
Band of coyotes
Brood of hens
Caravan of camels
Cast of hawks
Cete of badgers
Charm of goldfinches
Chine of polecats
Clowder of cats
Clutch of eggs
Colony of ants
Colony of penguins
Colony of beavers
Congregation of alligators
Covey of partridges
Crash of rhinoceroses
Descent of woodpeckers
Gaze of raccoons
Herd of buffalo
Herd of moose
Kindle of kittens
Leap of leopards
Lounge of lizards
Murmuration of starlings
Ostentation of peacocks
Pace of asses
Parliament of Owls
Party of jays
Pod of seals
Pod of walruses
Rafter of turkeys
Rhumba of rattlesnakes
Romp of otters
Scurry of squirrels
Shrewdness of apes
Siege of herons
Shiver of sharks
Sloth of bears
Tribe of goats
Trogle of snakes
Troop of kangaroos
Unkindness of ravens
Wisdom of wombats
Zeal of Zebras
I love "Parliament of Owls," (what an image; my fingers itch to sketch it), and "Zeal of Zebras" reminds me of when I wrote for Zebra and my (totally terrific) editor was Denise Little. Plus, I think any one of the above would make a great title for a book or story. Unkindness of Ravens by Denise Dietz sounds good.
Another topic I'm told we'll cover is "Words that end in -onym," like...
Acronym: A name formed by combining the first letters or groups of letters from a phrase. Example - SCUBA comes from self contained underwater breathing apparatus
Anatonym: (not to be confused with antonym) A verb based on a part of the body. Example - eye that gorgeous hunk, or foot the bill
Aptronym: A name that is suited to the profession of its owner. Example - Joe Speed the race car driver, or Brenda Baker the chef
Capitonym: A word that takes on new meaning when capitalized. Example polish becomes Polish
Eponym: A real or mythical person from whose name a place, a thing, or an event is taken. Example - from the Earl of Sandwich we get sandwich
Heteronym: Words with identical spellings but different meaning an pronunciation. Example - bow of a boat and bow and arrow, or tear in your eye and tear the paper.
Metonym: A word used to substitute for another word or phrase with which it is closely associated. Example - "crown" to refer to the monarchy, "sword" for military power, "brass" for military officers.
Patronym: A family name based on the name of an ancestor. Example - Watkinson is the son of Watkin, McDonald the son of Donald, O'Connell the son of Connell
Pseudonym: I hope y'all know what this one means :)
Tautonym: Words composed of two identical parts. Example - tutu or tom-tom
Toponym: A word that began as the name of a place. Example - hamburger is from Hamburg, Germany, or afghan, a soft blanket from Afghanistan.
And you thought all we Canadians talked about was hockey and maple syrup, didn'tcha?
Have I bored you yet? Oui? Non? Okay, here is some IQ trivia:
Famous IQs (estimated):
Leonardo da Vinci 220
Johann Sebastian Bach 165
Albert Einstein 160+
Sir Isaac Newton 190
Bill Gates 160
Charles Dickens 180
Sharon Stone 154
Researchers have shown that each year of schooling is good for about 3.5 IQ points.
Conversely, dropouts lose IQ points. Swedish researchers found a 1.8-point IQ loss for each year of high school missed after dropping out.
Summer vacation means brain drain. Two independent studies show an IQ decline over the summer, increasing with every month out of school.
IQ marks have increased over the decades. If people taking an IQ test today were scored in the same way as people 50 years ago, 90% of them would be classified in the genius level. Experts think the rise in IQ scores has happened because of increased education and the advent of television and mass communications (i.e. we know more).
What you put in your mouth can affect your brain. A study of 1 million students in New York City revealed that school pupils did 14% better on IQ tests after preservatives, dyes, and artificial flavors were removed from their lunches.
People with high IQs tend to live longer and suffer less from certain diseases like depression, dementia and schizophrenia, but they also tend to suffer more from obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Although IQ correlates with school performance and job performance, it does not correlate very much with personal income. The best estimate available suggests that IQ explains less than 1/6 of the variance in income.
Women with a high IQ are 40% less likely to marry.
Caffeine can improve your IQ score. It doesn't make you smarter but makes you more alert and increases short-term memory :-)
Wine drinkers on average have a higher IQ than beer drinkers. Studies show a slight advantage to wine drinkers - but do wine drinkers have higher IQs because they drink wine or vice-versa ? It may be that some people with a high IQ reach a high social status and then choose to drink wine to fit in.
Workers distracted by phone calls, e-mails and text messages suffer a greater loss of IQ than a person smoking marijuana, a British study shows.
A recent study has shown that it is possible to increase one's IQ by regularly playing puzzle games.
[Gordon and I do the NY Times crossword puzzle every Sunday. I use blue ink, he uses red ink!]
And finally (do I hear applause?)... Some studies report differences in IQ between men and women, but magnitude of this difference is very small and the direction of the difference not very consistent.
Quote Of The Week: "Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of nonthought." Milan Kundera
Next Tuesday I'll tell you how my stint on Test The Nation turned out. If I made my team proud.
Or if I made a complete ass of myself on national TV.
It's happened before, but I'll save that story for another blog.
Over and Out,