The Question Game

The question game is an integral part of halfling culture (you don't need to know what a halfling is to understand this node, but you can always get more info at the halfling node if you wish).

The question game starts with asking someone a single question. They then reply with a related question (that must sound natural). The object is to make the conversation get as wildly off topic as possible (but just a little bit at a time). This keeps going until someone gives up (or cannot reply within 10 seconds).

Some halflings take any question as an invitation to play the question game (thus infuriating friends and strangers alike). In general it is always safest to give halflings friendly orders as opposed to questions. Instead of asking, "Where is the butcher?", you should say' "Tell me where the butcher is." This slight change in wording can avoid an unwanted round of the question game altogether.

An example of the question game

To properly appreciate the absurdity of the game, you should pick your two favorite Monty Python members to be the two halflings in question.

Burrin: Could I have a slice of your toast?

Paddy: Why are you so interested in my breakfast?

Burrin: Could you forget that and just pass me the jam?

Burrin: We have more butter, why don't you use that instead?

Paddy: How come we never seem to run out of butter?

Burrin: If there is so much bloody butter everywhere, then why does the dairyman still charge so much for it?

Paddy: What was the dairyman's daughter's name anyway, I can't seem to recall?

Burrin: Now why in the world would you want to know that, you've got a thing for her, haven't you?

This will go on and on until someone gives up. Or it is time to part company, true masters of the game will even make their goodbye a question. "Farewell, could you pop by the store and get me a candle later on?"

Of course the question game need not be limited to halflings. Anyone can play this game (although I don't know why they would want to).

The Rules of Questions, as I have divined from the film, are as follows:

  1. Every response must be in the form of a question.
  2. Repetition - each question must be unique from it's predecessor.
  3. Synonyms. As above, you cannot create a unique question using only word substitution.
  4. Rhetoric. As above, again, you cannot create a unique question by changing word order.
  5. Intelligence - I.E. "no grunts". Questions must make intellectual sense.
  6. Hesitation - No hesitation. 'nuff said.
  7. Sequence - Questions must be in-line with the chain of discourse currently being pursued.. e.g. cannot simply be random inquiries. ("...Foul! No non sequiturs...")
... always, won't you please tell me if I've missed anything?

The single best way to understand the game, of course, is to see it being played. This is taken from the play (dialogue is slightly altered in the movie, and is spaced out here between points for readability):

ROSENCRANTZ: We could play at questions.
GUILDENSTERN: What good would that do?
ROS: Practice!
GUIL: Statement! One-love!

ROS: Cheating!
GUIL: How?
ROS: I hadn't started yet!
GUIL: Statement. Two-love.

ROS: Are you counting that?
GUIL: What?
ROS: Are you counting that?
GUIL: Foul! No repetitions. Three-love. First game to--
ROS: I'm not going to play if you're going to be like that.

GUIL: Whose serve?
ROS: Hah?
GUIL: Foul! No grunts. Love-one.

ROS: Who's go?
GUIL: Why?
ROS: Why not?
GUIL: What for?
ROS: Foul! No synonyms. One-all.

GUIL: What in God's name is going on?
ROS: Foul! No rhetoric! Two-one.

GUIL: What does it all add up to?
ROS: Can't you guess?
GUIL: Were you addressing me?
ROS: Is there anyone else?
GUIL: Who?
ROS: How would I know?
GUIL: Why do you ask?
ROS: Are you serious?
GUIL: Was that rhetoric?
ROS: No.
GUIL: Statement! Two-all. Game point.

ROS: What's the matter with you today?
GUIL: When?
ROS: What?
GUIL: Are you deaf?
ROS: Am I dead?
GUIL: Yes or no?
ROS: Is there a choice?
GUIL: Is there a God?
ROS: Foul! No non-sequiturs, three-two, one game all.

GUIL (seriously): What's your name?
ROS: What's yours?
GUIL: I asked you first.
ROS: Statement. One-love.

GUIL: What's your name when you're at home?
ROS: What's yours?
GUIL: When I'm at home?
ROS: Is it different at home?
GUIL: What home?
ROS: Haven't you got one?
GUIL: Why do you ask?
ROS: What are you driving at?
GUIL (with emphasis): What's your name?!
ROS: Repetition. Two-love. Match point to me.

GUIL (siezing him violently): WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?
ROS: Rhetoric! Game and match!

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