Wide of the Arc?

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Ian Dunn writes:
I would like to point out two errors made in the "France" episode, both occuring while talking about the Arc de Triomphe....

First, Stephen says that there is a large elephant-shaped building in Bangkok. However, to quote Stephen himself, "Only ignorant foreigners called it Bangkok." He should have said Krung Thep.  Second, despite what Stephen said, the Arc de Triomphe is not the largest triumphal arch in the world. This title goes to the Arc of Triumph in Pyongyang, North Korea.

An elf responds
Dear Ian:
Merci bien for your eagle-eyed quibbles.

I guess the correct wording would be "there is a large elephant-shaped building in Krung Thep, the correct name for the city that we know as Bangkok" because (especially as we have a new audience on BBC1) we can't rely on people remembering what we said in previous episodes.  As I'm sure you'll agree, this would be a little bit clunky.

There is also a difference between something being the official name and something being the regularly used name. When we ask the question, we are specifically asking what the city is called; when Stephen mentions the city in conversation he is attempting to put across an idea in the least ambiguous way by using common parlance.

However: as for the largest triumphal arch... Well we certainly have to hold our hands up there.

The Arc of Triumph in Pyongyang, North Korea does indeed hold the record as the largest triumphal arch in the world.  As you mention in your e-mail, the Arc de Triomphe is 49.5 metres high and 45 metres wide, while the Arch of Triumph in Pyongyang is 60 metres high and 50-52.5 metres wide.  In fact, it was deliberatly built with the French dimensions in mind and is supposed to celebrate the resistance against Japanese in the decades leading up to WWII as well as to celebrate the "Great Leader"'s 70th birthday.

Quibble Qualified

Sources:
http://www1.korea-np.co.jp/pk/102nd_issue/99070703.htm
Financial Times (London); Aug 17, 2005
The Guardian (Manchester); May 14, 2001

Do you have a bone to pick with QI?  E-mail us here: elves@qi.com

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