Shady Characters, the quiz

The launch party for Shady Characters went swimmingly! The bar was packed with family and friends, both old and new; many books were signed, and much wine was drunk. My mum brought along a fountain pen that had once belonged to my grandfather, and it was an honour to be able to sign books with it at my first-ever book launch.

While at the launch I took the opportunity to pass out a quiz I wrote a while back to help Particular Books promote the UK edition of Shady Characters, and I thought I’d share it here too. Regular readers of the blog (and book!) will have the answers down pat, but if there are any you’re unsure about just hover your mouse above an answer to reveal whether it’s the right one or not. (On touch screen devices, tap the answers instead.) Some questions have more than one answer.

Enjoy, and post your scores here if you feel like bragging!

  1. Which mark of punctuation was once taught as the 27th letter of the alphabet?
    1. Asterisk (*)
    2. Pilcrow (¶)
    3. Ampersand (&)
  2. What does this symbol () signify?
    1. A surprised or rhetorical question
    2. An ironic statement
    3. A glottal stop
  3. What is the universal name for the “#” symbol?
    1. Klammeraffe
    2. Octothorpe
    3. Strudel
  4. Which character, when it fell out of common use, left behind the paragraph indent?
    1. Dagger (†)
    2. Section sign (§)
    3. Pilcrow (¶)
  5. What is this character () called?
    1. Manicule
    2. Bishop’s fist
    3. Digit
  6. “@” was originally an abbreviation for…
    1. Amphora, ancient Roman and Greek pottery jugs
    2. Acres, the unit of area measurement
    3. (Pounds of) ambergris, a waxy substance found in the digestive tract of the sperm whale and used in perfume manufacture
  7. The earliest occurrence of which symbol was found in graffiti on a wall in Pompeii?
    1. Pilcrow (¶)
    2. Ampersand (&)
    3. Dagger (†)


  1. Posted October 5, 2013 at 11:57 am | Permalink | Reply

    Cool way of showing the answers as we drop down the post. I have noticed that the pilcrow is being brought back in Wired magazine in narrow columns. I’m now using the manicle in the margins of my research exhibits which are normally 18th & 19th century documents.

    • Keith Houston
      Posted October 5, 2013 at 5:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks! I didn’t want to go the whole hog and embed a poll-style, interactive competition, but I thought it’d be nice to be able to see the answers in an interactive way.

      I haven’t read a paper copy of Wired for years, but I’ll have to pick one up to have a look at these pilcrows you mention.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Bill M
    Posted October 5, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

    A Very Hearty Congratulations on your successful Launch Party!

    I followed a link a while back from the TYPEWRITERS Yahoo! group to your blog. I am very glad that I did that. I really enjoy reading your blong.

    Please, keep up the good work.

    Thanks for making the answers part of the quiz. I knew some of them, but many I did not know.

    Will the book be available in the USA or is there a bookseller in the UK willing to ship it?

  3. Will Capellaro
    Posted October 12, 2013 at 5:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

    “Which character left behind the paragraph indent when it fell out of common use?”
    Not sure if that question is written in a way that anyone can understand. I had trouble with it.

    • Keith Houston
      Posted October 13, 2013 at 6:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Will — granted, it could be a little clearer. How is it now?

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