Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Define the letter 'A' (3 marks)


I’m setting a scene – please, humour me. You have an English exam on, let’s say Macbeth – you’re expecting essay questions like “Explain the phrase: ‘Out, brief candle”, and “Write a character sketch on Macduff”, and with your heart hammering you flip your question paper, your pen poised to fly and you see the question:

Q1 – Define the letter ‘A’ (3 marks)

 We had a nasty shock some weeks back when we referred to problems from too many books, cracked our heads over “Why does this sine wave look like it’s been murdered” or “Maybe the author got it wrong, we all got the same wrong answer” and other mind-numbing questions involving a lot of Fourier analysis and integration and bazillion trigonometric formulae and we saw questions like “What do you mean by Discrete Time Fourier Analysis” and “Define Energy and Power”. (These two were the worst – I guess I have suppressed bad memories I can’t recollect others)

Here we were fully expecting to ace the paper inwardly but telling people, “Shit I am so screwed” (because honestly, who shows off that you’ve studied well?) and we see the paper and we tell ourselves, “Shit I am so freaking screwed”.

We DTFT’d questions – we knew how to DTFT, we knew how to find the energy and power of a function, but what is it? I banged my head on the table. I swore at all the old people with hair growing out of their ears sitting in the university with the responsibility of setting a paper, their fathers and their grandfathers. We have since then reached the conclusion that not one of those #%$^@&%$ ever taught Signals and Systems or if they did, they did it eons back.

So what did we do? We knew (it’s a public secret) that a ‘3 marks’ question demands one page answer, ‘5 marks’ needs atleast two, and ’12 marks’ needs “howmuchever you can write without dislocating your shoulder”. Then we remembered who we were.

Pure geniuses.

What we felt like doing was scrunching up the damn paper and stuffing it in our mouth. But what we actually did was:

Q1) Define the letter ‘A’ (3 marks)

Ans: The letter ‘A’ is the first letter of the English alphabet. It is analogous to the “Alpha” in the Greek alphabet and the “Alif” in the Arabic alphabet. The letter is pronounced “eh” when it is read as a letter, and “uh” when it is used as an article. “A” makes different sounds in different words. “Cat” and “Bat” differ in only one word but the “A” is pronounced differently in both. “A” is pronounced differently even in the same word in different places e.g. “Afghanistan” and “amazing” and “Balaclava”.  When written in smaller case it looks like this – a.

“A” fulfils a lot of roles. It can function as an indeterminate article, it can symbolize the top grade (e.g. “She got an A on her essay”), we have AAA and AA batteries, papers come in A5, A4, A3, A2, A1, and even A0 sizes, British students have to clear their A – level exams, there is even a character known as only “A” in the show Pretty Little Liars. After the letter “E” (which is the fifth letter in the alphabet), it is the second most used letter in English. It is the first vowel (others include “e”, “i”, “o”, “u”). Coincidentally, even though the same letter is used in the French alphabet, it makes a different sound….

Alright, I’ll stop now. But do you get the point? The answer to the question stops after the first line in my answer. But to exceed one page I have to resort to absolutely pointless infodumping and HUGE handwriting (mine actually becomes tinier as I speed up so have to cram more non-information).

You understand the label PURE GENIUSES now, right? Those @#$*^%@& better give us full marks for our paper, or else they will know the power of a chainsaw.
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