Tag Archives: stephen fry

Not a question?

Another post inspired by QI. In this episode, Stephen Fry asks the question “Why do the columns of the Parthenon look straight?” (youtube clip is here.)

And the answer turns out to be:

“Because they are straight”

One of the other guests goes bananas about this. “That’s not a question!” he complains. The whole scene is actually pretty funny, with Fry crumbling under the pressure. But it’s a valid point. Is that really a question? Probably most people feel that something is at least a little wrong with it.
Continue reading



Filed under Linguistics

Chinese names on QI

In this episode of QI, Steven Fry gives everyone their “Chinese name” and then
“translates” it into English. Interestingly, he gives two translations
for each person.

How he arrived at their Chinese names seems to be as follows: He first
cuts up everyone’s name into monosyllables. Then for each syllable
finds the closest matching one in Chinese, where “closest” is probably
determined by Fry’s own (probably not so accurate) intuitions about
Chinese phonology.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Linguistics