The Daily Mail had a piece about exam howlers from a new book by humorist Richard Benson. Examples include:
Q Where was Hadrian’s Wall built?
A Around Hadrian’s garden.
Q What was Sir Walter Raleigh famous for?
A He is a noted figure in history because he invented cigarettes and started a craze for bicycles.
Q Name one of the Romans’ greatest achievement?
A Learning Latin.
In this BBC podcast Ben Schott, a writer of trivia books, investigates Oulipo, the French experimental literary group. Founded in 1960, Oulipo create work by imposing playful restrictions the way a text will be produced. Here are some examples of the constraints:
S+7, sometimes called N+7 Replace every noun in a text with the noun seven entries after it in a dictionary. For example, “Call me Ishmael. Some years ago…” (from Moby-Dick) becomes “Call me islander. Some yeggs ago…”. Results will vary depending upon the dictionary used. This technique can also be performed on other lexical classes, such as verbs.
Snowball A poem in which each line is a single word, and each successive word is one letter longer.
Lipogram Writing that excludes one or more letters. The previous sentence is a lipogram in B, F, H, J, K, Q, V, Y, and Z (it does not contain any of those letters).
Prisoner’s constraint, also called “Macao” constraint
A type of lipogram that omits letters with ascenders and descenders (b, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, p, q, t, and y).
Palindromes Sonnets and other poems constructed using palindromic techniques.
In this article, A Case in Antiquities for ‘Finders Keepers’, John Tierney argues the repatriation of antiquities.
The Onion has a couple of funny articles: