curiosities from Wikipedia (an occasional series)

From the entry on Norfolk Island, pop. 1,748, which lies 877 miles from mainland Australia:

This common heritage has led to a limited number of surnames among the islanders – a limit constraining enough that the island’s telephone directory also includes nicknames for many subscribers, such as Cane Toad, Dar Bizziebee, Lettuce Leaf, Goof, Paw Paw, Diddles, Rubber Duck, Carrots, and Tarzan.

From the entry on the Scots Language:

The results from a 1996 trial before the Census, by the General Register Office for Scotland, suggested that there were around 1.5 million speakers of Scots, with 30% of Scots responding “Yes” to the question “Can you speak the Scots language?”, but only 17% responding “Aye” to the question “Can you speak Scots?”.

From the entry on Isaac Newton:

As Warden, and afterwards Master, of the Royal Mint, [Sir Isaac] Newton estimated that 20 percent of the coins taken in during the Great Recoinage of 1696 were counterfeit. … Convicting even the most flagrant criminals could be extremely difficult. However, Newton proved equal to the task. Disguised as a habitué of bars and taverns, he gathered much of that evidence himself. … Newton had himself made a justice of the peace in all the home counties. … Then he conducted more than 100 cross-examinations of witnesses, informers, and suspects between June 1698 and Christmas 1699. Newton successfully prosecuted 28 coiners.

See also: strange livesthe European country that spoke Esperanto; and Anson Burlingame and the duel that never happened.

About Peter

Associate Dean for Research and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Concerned about civic education, civic engagement, and democratic reform in the United States and elsewhere.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.