The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary Test | Mid-Book Test - Medium

Simon Winchester
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This test consists of 5 multiple choice questions, 5 short answer questions, and 10 short essay questions.

Multiple Choice Questions

1. What word is defined in the opening of the book?
(a) Kill.
(b) Word.
(c) Murder.
(d) Love.

2. Who was the most famous editor of the Old English Dictionary?
(a) Frederick Furnivall.
(b) Dr. Sweet.
(c) Dr. Minor.
(d) James Murray.

3. England's power grew, and it felt embarrassed for not studying its language. Why did citizens want a proper dictionary?
(a) Many wanted a dictionary for helping immigrants.
(b) Many wanted to sell them in bookstores.
(c) Many wanted a dictionary for the English language in its entirety.
(d) Schools made more demands on scholars to make a new dictionary.

4. What kind of Christianity did the Murray family follow?
(a) Seventh Day Adventists.
(b) United Church of Christ.
(c) Methodist.
(d) Congregationalist.

5. According to Chapter 5, which dictionary far surpassed all that came before it?
(a) The English Dictionary of America.
(b) The Oxford English Dictionary.
(c) The American Dictionary.
(d) The Oxford Cambridge Dictionary of English.

Short Answer Questions

1. What was the idea behind the Philological Society?

2. How many supplements of the Oxford English Dictionary came out after the original?

3. How many slips of paper came in from volunteers who wanted to add to the newly proposed dictionary?

4. Merrett's killer was from ______________.

5. At what age was William sent to the United States?

Short Essay Questions

1. What is significant about the making of the Oxford English Dictionary's beginnings to have begun on Guy Fawkes Day in England?

2. In what way was Trench's appeal to the masses who would be needed to help compile the Oxford English Dictionary democratic?

3. Many critics found the Oxford English Dictionary to be racist and sexist. Explain how the author suggests this may have happened.

4. According to the author, "The quotes would show how words had been used over centuries and explained when they had changed. The project was commissioned in the 1850s but was not profitable, yet many believe the OED is valuable far beyond its price." Why might people believe it is valuable far beyond its price?

5. In regards to Trench's speech, what did he view each word as having? What must be charted for each word?

6. The author says that Minor became unworried by his "lascivious thoughts" while at Yale. What is a possible explanation for this?

7. What effect could it have had on logophiles to learn that Samuel Johnson had imposed limits on the history of the definitions of words in his dictionary?

8. What can be appreciated about the Oxford English Dictionary being called "The Big Dictionary"?

9. For what reasons did Minor become the most famous contributor to the Oxford English Dictionary?

10. Given the information that the reader gleans from the nature of the Philological Society, as well as people speaking in the London Library, what characteristics of the London Library in Minor's day show it to be different from a public library of this day and age?

(see the answer keys)

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