Trivia

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Trivia is information and data that are considered to be of little value. [1]

Contents

Latin meaning and etymology

The trivia (singular trivium ) are three lower Artes Liberales : grammar, logic, and rhetoric. These were the topics of basic education, foundational to the quadrivia of higher education, and hence the material of basic education and an important building block for all undergraduates.

The ancient Romans used the word triviae to describe where one road split or forked into two roads. Triviae was formed from tri (three) and viae (roads) – literally meaning "three roads", and in transferred use "a public place" and hence the meaning "commonplace." [2]

During the middle age period, the word "Trivium" represented the lower levels of education. However, later on, the term "Trivium" represented the importance and necessity of this basic education for "Quadrivium", an advanced level of education. [3]

The pertaining adjective is triviālis. The adjective trivial was adopted in Early Modern English, while the noun trivium only appears in learned usage from the 19th century, in reference to the Artes Liberales and the plural trivia in the sense of "trivialities, trifles" only in the 20th century.[ citation needed ]

The Latin adjective triviālis in Classical Latin besides its literal meaning could have the meaning "appropriate to the street corner, commonplace, vulgar." In late Latin, it could also simply mean "triple." In medieval Latin, it came to refer to the lower division of the Artes Liberales , namely grammar, rhetoric, and logic. (The other four Liberal Arts were the quadrivium , namely arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy, which were more challenging.) Hence, trivial in this sense would have meant "of interest only to an undergraduate."[ citation needed ]

English usage

The adjective trivial introduced into English in the 15th to 16th century was influenced by all three meanings of the Latin adjective:

Trivia was used as a title by Logan Pearsall Smith in 1902, [7] followed by More Trivia and All Trivia in 1921 and 1933, respectively, collections of short "moral pieces" or aphorisms. Book II of the 1902 publication is headed with a quote from "Gay's Trivia, or New Art of Walking Streets of London.",

"Thou, Trivia, goddess, aid my song: Through spacious streets conduct thy bard along." [8]

Modern usage

Trivialities, bits of information of little consequence was the title of a popular book by British aphorist Logan Pearsall Smith (1865-1946), first published in 1902 but popularized in 1918 (with More Trivia following in 1921 and a collected edition including both in 1933). It consisted of short essays often tied to observation of small things and commonplace moments. Trivia is the plural of trivium, "a public place." The adjectival form of this, trivialis, was hence translated by Smith as "commonplace." [9]

In the 1918 version of his book Trivia, Smith wrote: [9]

I KNOW too much; I have stuffed too many of the facts of History and Science into my intellectuals. My eyes have grown dim over books; believing in geological periods, cave dwellers, Chinese Dynasties, and the fixed stars has prematurely aged me.

In the 1960s, nostalgic college students and others began to informally trade questions and answers about the popular culture of their youth. The first known documented labeling of this casual parlor game as "Trivia" was in a Columbia Daily Spectator column published on February 5, 1965. [10] The author, Ed Goodgold (né Edwin F. Goodgold; born 1944), then started the first organized "trivia contests" with the help of Dan Carlinsky. Ed and Dan wrote the book Trivia (Dell, 1966), which achieved a ranking on the New York Times best-seller list; the book was an extension of the pair's Columbia contests and was followed by other Goodgold and Carlinsky trivia titles. In their second book, More Trivial Trivia, the authors criticized practitioners who were "indiscriminate enough to confuse the flower of trivia with the weed of minutiae"; Trivia, they wrote, "is concerned with tugging at heartstrings," while minutiae deals with such unevocative questions as "Which state is the largest consumer of Jell-O?" But over the years the word has come to refer to obscure and arcane bits of dry knowledge as well as nostalgic remembrances of pop culture.[ citation needed ] The board game Trivial Pursuit was released in 1982 and was a craze in the U.S. for several years thereafter. [9]

Organized competition

The largest current trivia contest [11] [12] is held in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point's college radio station WWSP 89.9 FM. This is a college station with 30,000 [13] watts of power and about a 65-mile (105-kilometre) radius, and the contest serves as a fund raiser for the station. The contest is open to anyone, and it is played in April of each year spanning 54 hours over a weekend with eight questions each hour. There are usually 400 teams ranging from 1 to 150 players. The top ten teams are awarded trophies. The 51st WWSP contest is currently underway, although with temporary modifications due to COVID-19 restrictions. [14]

The two longest continuous trivia contests in the world are the Great Midwest Trivia Contest at Lawrence University and the Williams Trivia Contest, which both debuted in the spring of 1966. Lawrence hosts its contest annually. Unusually, Williams has a separate contest for each semester, and thus its 84th game took place in May 2008.

The University of Colorado Trivia Bowl was a mostly student contest featuring a single-elimination tournament based on the GE College Bowl. [15] Many of the best trivia players in America trace participation through this tournament including many Jeopardy! and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? contestants. In recent years, the event has been conducted in a round robin competition format and operated as a regional qualifier for T.R.A.S.H. (Testing Recall About Strange Happenings).

Today, many bars and restaurants host weekly trivia nights in an effort to draw in more patrons, especially during weeknights.

Quiz bowl

Another quiz competition is the quiz bowl tournaments found in high schools and universities in the U.S., as well as in elementary, middle, and junior high schools; the Canadian equivalent is competition geared toward Reach for the Top, among high schools, although Canadian universities and a few high schools are beginning to participate in U.S. quiz bowl leagues. The National Academic Quiz Tournaments is a national organization, founded in 1996, which supplies questions to high school and college-level tournaments across North America.

See also

Related Research Articles

Liberal arts education Traditional academic program in Western higher education

Liberal arts education is the traditional academic program in Western higher education. Liberal arts takes the term art in the sense of a learned skill rather than specifically the fine arts. Liberal arts education can refer to studies in a liberal arts degree program or to a university education more generally. Such a course of study contrasts with those that are principally vocational, professional, or technical.

An oxymoron is a rhetorical device that uses an ostensible self-contradiction to illustrate a rhetorical point or to reveal a paradox. A more general meaning of "contradiction in terms" is recorded by the OED for 1902.

Quadrivium Liberal arts of astronomy, arithmetic, music and geometry

In liberal arts education, the quadrivium consists of the four subjects or arts taught after the trivium. The word is Latin, meaning 'four ways', and its use for the four subjects has been attributed to Boethius or Cassiodorus in the 6th century. Together, the trivium and the quadrivium comprised the seven liberal arts, as distinguished from the practical arts.

Roman calendar Calendar used by the Roman Kingdom and Roman Republic

The Roman calendar was the calendar used by the Roman kingdom and republic. The term often includes the Julian calendar established by the reforms of the dictator Julius Caesar and emperor Augustus in the late 1st century BC and sometimes includes any system dated by inclusive counting towards months' kalends, nones, and ides in the Roman manner. The term usually excludes the Alexandrian calendar of Roman Egypt, which continued the unique months of that land's former calendar; the Byzantine calendar of the later Roman Empire, which usually dated the Roman months in the simple count of the ancient Greek calendars; and the Gregorian calendar, which refined the Julian system to bring it into still closer alignment with the tropical year.

Trivium

The trivium is the lower division of the seven liberal arts and comprises grammar, logic, and rhetoric.

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Mammon in the New Testament of the Bible is commonly thought to mean money, material wealth, or any entity that promises wealth, and is associated with the greedy pursuit of gain. The Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke both quote Jesus using the word in a phrase often rendered in English as "You cannot serve both God and mammon."

Antiquarian Specialist or aficionado of antiquities or things of the past

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A pub quiz is a quiz held in a pub or bar. These events are also called quiz nights, trivia nights, or bar trivia and may be held in other settings. Pub quizzes may attract customers to a pub who are not found there on other days. The pub quiz is a modern example of a pub game. Although different pub quizzes can cover a range of formats and topics, they have many features in common. The pub quiz was established in the UK in the 1970s by Burns and Porter and became part of British culture. The Great British Pub Quiz challenge is an annual event. Pub quizzes are a staple event at Irish pubs, where they are usually held in English.

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References

  1. Knowles, Elizabeth, ed. (2006). The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Oxford University Press, UK. p. 175. ISBN   978-0-19-157856-4.
  2. Harper, Douglas. "trivial". Online Etymology Dictionary . Retrieved 2015-10-02.
  3. "Trivia, Meaning, Definition, and Origin". Crowds Trivia.
  4. trans. Higden (Rolls Series, dating to 1432-50) VI. 333 to whom sche redde the arte trivialle (translating trivium legeret), cited after OED.
  5. trans. Higden (Rolls Series) VI. 333 Giraldus of Wales, which describede Topographie of Irlonde, Itinerary of Wales, and the Lyfe of Kinge Henry the Secunde, under a triuialle distinccion (translating sub triplici distinctione), cited after OED.
  6. Henry VI, Part 3 (1593) We haue but triuiall argument.
  7. Project Gutenberg etext. Gutenberg.org. 2005-07-01. Retrieved 2012-04-28.
  8. Gay, John (1730). Trivia: Or, The Art of Walking the Streets of London. Internet Archive. London: Bernard Linton.
  9. 1 2 3 Trivia Archived 2015-12-26 at the Wayback Machine , Online Etymology Dictionary
  10. "Columbia Daily Spectator 5 February 1965". Columbia University Archives. Archived from the original on 18 April 2014. Retrieved 2014-04-18.
  11. "Trivia World". Triviahalloffame.com. Archived from the original on 2008-05-16. Retrieved 2008-12-23.
  12. Jennings, Ken. Chapter 13: What is Tradition?. Brainiac. Archived from the original on 2009-01-24. Retrieved 2008-12-23.
  13. https://transition.fcc.gov/fcc-bin/fmq?call=WWSP
  14. "Festivus repeats as Trivia champions". stevenspointjournal.com. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  15. "University of Colorado Heritage Center". Cualum.org. Archived from the original on 2007-02-03. Retrieved 2008-12-23.