How much of a clever clogs are you?

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Indy Lifestyle Online
None of us like to think that we are guilty of pedantry, yet we are all, in varying degrees, likely to find it aggravating when friends and relations commit tiny trivial errors. Often we insist on correcting those errors, and although we think that thereby we are building a reputation for wisdom and knowledge, in fact we are just getting a name as a clever clogs.

People never own up to this, so I have devised a DIY test which will tell readers just how much of a pedant they really are.

Here are some of the more common symptoms of pedantry. Just tick the ones which apply to you, and find your rating at the end of the mini-quiz.

1. When you started this article, you automatically thought to yourself: "Hold on - grammatically speaking, shouldn't that be `None of us likes to think'?"

2. You also frowned when you came to the word "aggravating", and you said to yourself: "He seems to think `aggravate' means to `irritate', whereas it just means `to make worse'."

3. When people say: "Sorry, could you repeat that again?", you find yourself saying: "Well, not really. I have only said it once and I haven't repeated it at all yet, so I can't exactly repeat it again. I could however repeat it for the first time, if you like."

4. You are irritated by the use of the phrase "steam train". It wasn't the train that was steam-driven. It was the engine. So people should say "steam engine". Even better, "steam locomotive".

5. You hate it when people mix up "fewer" and "less".

6. When we came to the end of the 20th century, you agreed totally with those who could see that 2000AD was the last year of the old millennium, and not the first of the next, so you celebrated the date a year later than everyone else.

7. When the conversation gets round to red and grey squirrels, you find it very hard to resist saying that a grey squirrel isn't really a squirrel, but a kind of rat.

8. And that a spider is not strictly speaking an insect.

9. And that a slow worm is not a snake at all, but a kind of legless lizard.

10. You get very cross when people insist on pronouncing "macho" as "macko" and "machismo" as "mackismo". It's pronounced as written for heaven's sake! The Spanish "ch" is exactly the same as our "ch". They wouldn't have a dance called the "cha cha cha" otherwise, would they? And he wasn't pronounced Kay Guevara, was he? Well, then.

11. You get just as cross when people say that they are "disinterested" in something they find dull. No, they're not, they're "uninterested". "Disinterested" is a very useful word for "impartial".

12. You hate it when people seem to think that Frankenstein was a monster. Frankenstein built the monster. That's why we say "Frankenstein's monster".

13. When people say "tomorrow to fresh fields, and pastures new", you find it hard to resist pointing out that Milton actually wrote: "Tomorrow to fresh woods, and pastures new".

14. People talk about "reaching a crescendo". But a "crescendo" is a process of growing louder, so you can't reach it. All you can reach is a climax.

15. You find it irritating when people talk about "The hoi polloi". "Hoi polloi" is Greek for "the many". So when they say "The hoi polloi", they are actually saying "the the many".

Right - now add up your score. If you got 12 or more out of 15, you are an exhibitionist and a pain in the neck. You love University Challenge and are probably in a pub quiz team. No wonder people shun you.

If you scored between 4 and 11, you are still an exhibitionist and a pain in the neck, but you prefer The Weakest Link to University Challenge.

If you only scored 1-3, you are either highly tolerant or pathetically underinformed.

If you didn't bother to do the test, you are completely normal. Well done!