Humour is not something exclusive to any particular culture or profession. Just think of jokers and tricksters. These characters have always existed in all societies and in all fields of human activity. In the first part of the twentieth century, some famous jokes which took place in different parts of the world and in different settings were so successful that they became enduring misconceptions. A good instance of this is provided by Hugh Troy, a well-known American artist who spent most of his life tricking people around him just for the fun of it.
One winter in the 1920s, while he was a student at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., Troy got hold of an old wastepaper basket with a real rhinoceros foot as its base. He filled it with metal weights and tied 30 feet of rope to either side. Late one night he and a friend carried it out onto campus, suspended between them. Every few feet they would lower it into the snow, their own footprints so far away as to raise no suspicions.
The next morning someone noticed the prints and told the learned professors of his discovery. Excitedly, they followed the rhinoceros tracks. The trail led out onto the ice covering Beebe Lake, which connected to the school's source of drinking water. There the tracks ended in a gigantic hole. It is said that half the population of Cornell stopped drinking tap water for some time. Those who continued to drink it tasted like rhinoceros.
I. READING COMPREHENSION
1. Are the following sentences TRUE or FALSE? Copy the evidence from the text. No marks are given for only TRUE or FALSE:
a) Few people could tell who Hugh troy was.
b) Rhinoceros prints could be seen on the frozen Lake.
- TRUE: "Excitedly, they followed the rhinoceros tracks. The trail led out onto the ice covering Beebe Lake, (...)"
2. In your own words and based on the ideas from the text, answer the following questions:
a) How did Troy perform his trick?
b) What was the people's reaction to the presence of the marks on the snow?
- People followed the tracks to the lake convinced that they were real and many of them didn’t even want to drink water from it.
II. USE OF ENGLISH
3. Find the words or phrases in the test that mean:
a) wrong ideas (paragraph 1): misconceptions
b) example (paragraph 1): instance
c) cord (paragraph 2): rope
d) erudite (paragraph 3): learned
4. Complete the following sentences. Use the appropriate from of the word in brackets when
a) A rhinoceros is a large animal with one or two horns on the nose.
b) What can we do to save certain species of animals from dying out?
c) Charles Chaplin, who died in 1977, was a famous film actor and producer. In his life time millions of people enjoyed seeing (see) his films.
d) He is the cleverest (clever) person I have ever meet (ever meet).
5.- Write about 100 to 150 words on the following topic.
a) A funny story you know
b) Is humour an important element in life?