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. According to the author, who is the "second" protagonist of the story?
(a) Dr. Minor.
(b) Mrs. Elsa.
(c) Dr. Henry Sweet.
(d) James Augustus Henry Murray.

2. How many men authored A Dictionary of the English Language?
(a) Six men.
(b) Fourteen men.
(c) Nine men.
(d) Five men.

3. On what holiday did Dr. Minor arrive in London in the opening of Chapter 4, Gathering Earth's Daughters?
(a) Christmas.
(b) Guy Fawkes Day.
(c) Easter.
(d) Fourth of July.

4. What did Mr. Trench argue about the major dictionaries available at the time?
(a) Only one had proper command of the English language.
(b) They were incorrect.
(c) They were sufficient for disseminating the English language at the time.
(d) They had major defects.

5. At what age was William sent to the United States?
(a) Twenty-two.
(b) Nine.
(c) Fourteen.
(d) Twelve.

Short Answer Questions

1. On what notable holiday did the making of the Oxford English Dictionary begin?

2. Who wrote A Dictionary of the English Language?

3. When are the first Latin dictionaries noted to have been in existence?

4. Where were George Merrett and his wife originally from?

5. How many years from Trench's speech about a new dictionary did the project actually get off the ground?

Short Essay Questions

1. In what way was Furnivall's call to ask participants to choose a time period for the book a very intelligent idea to spur the makings of the Oxford English Dictionary onward?

2. What aspects of the Latin-English dictionaries provided impetus for the makers of the Oxford English Dictionary to make their own English dictionary?

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

4. What might the audience find unique about the killer's professional past?

5. Why might Minor's father have fallen so easily in love with Judith?

6. 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?

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. What does the title of the book imply to prospective readers?

10. Did the "Battle of the Wilderness" push Minor past his mental capacities to function normally in social settings or public? If so, how does the author make this clear?

(see the answer keys)

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