Trivia and varia ( pluraliatantum ) are names for irrelevant information or knowledge that only has to do with a specific topic in a broader sense. Trivia means something like “little things worth knowing”, “this and that”, sometimes also “curiosities” or “ curiosities ”. Varia literally means "different".
Trivia comes from the Latin trivialis , “belonging to the three-way; common, well-known ”. The adjective is derived from the Latin trivium “crossing of three ways”.
In addition to this meaning, the trivium and the quadrivium were part of the septem artes liberales , those sciences that a free man could study. In the medieval universities, the trivium was the foundation course with grammar, rhetoric and dialectics. It was concluded with the bacalarius , later baccalaureus . The quadrivium included arithmetic, geometry, music theory, and astronomy. It was awarded the magister artium .
Neither the printed editions of the Duden nor the True Foreign Word Dictionary list the word trivia . It is now included in the online edition of the Duden . Even in the print edition of Brockhaus from 2000 the word trivia is no longer included.
Varia is a neuter plural form of Latin varius ("different, colorful") a German foreign word, mostly in scientific texts, with the meaning "different, mixed".
Use of the terms
- Trivia are dates, facts or circumstances without any scientific or ostensibly practical use; they are often equated with trivialities.
- Under Varia , supplementary information is given in scientific publications that are not required for the core of the work and its conclusive structure, but in the opinion of the author should be mentioned because their benefit cannot be assessed.
Examples in culture and mass media
Many questions in crossword puzzles or quiz programs are trivia. Even everyday conversations often have trivia on the subject, so that they have a communicative function more than an informative one . A well-known board game that deals with trivia is Trivial Pursuit . Most of the records in the Guinness Book of World Records are also trivia: The information that a Japanese can eat 43 hot dogs in half an hour is neither scientific nor beneficial. It's just "just" interesting.
Trivia no Izumi , the most successful television show on Japanese television in recent years, deals exclusively with trivia: Every week ten to twelve trivia are presented in video clips, whichare ratedby the audience on their level of interest.
Trivia form an essential part of the media boulevard , which is about entertainment rather than education . A fuzzy line between comedy and political cabaret can also be drawn based on the proportion of non-controversial trivia underlying the topic.
Differentiation of useful knowledge from useless knowledge
The concept of trivia presupposes that there are objective criteria with which useful from useless knowledge can be separated. A precise definition of such criteria appears to be very difficult, since almost everyone will draw the subjective boundary between trivial and nontrivial knowledge differently and a consensus is hardly conceivable. A common understanding may be found that useful knowledge is that one and one add up to two, and trivial knowledge that a television actress has lost ten pounds . However, most objects of knowledge move between these extremes.
The answers whether an issue is trivial or not "useful" can highly vary, depending on how their own assessment of sports data, literature , humanities , arts , culture ( advertising , movies , television, fashion as part of the culture) , Computer games , historical data , local events, basic research that cannot be directly implemented , etc. The same information can be scientific for one person and trivial for another person. It is symptomatic that a popular collection of apparent trivia, the handbook of useless knowledge by Hanswilhelm Haefs , mostly contains such fragments of knowledge that can be considered an object of university research in their disciplines and only appear trivial because of the way they are presented.
If a piece of information does not seem useful in terms of its content (i.e. it does not help with a task), but is still perceived as interesting, it means that the person in question would have suspected otherwise - trivia show a person the limits based on their knowledge or assessment and are useful in this function, but not because of their content. It is therefore not so important whether the information is exactly correct or only approximately; The reference to the source is often treated carelessly.
The primary advantage of trivial knowledge is likely to be a concrete "indirect profitability" for interpersonal communication : There is the possibility of participating in conversations and being able to contribute, or simply having a topic for a conversation to begin with.
Differentiation between information and knowledge
Trivia is usually used to describe individual pieces of information that are not presented in a larger context. It is questionable whether contextless individual information can even be called knowledge. In the case of quiz programs and games or crossword puzzles, disjointed information is rather strung together. The actual context here is the game format and thus the entertainment character of the questions and answers presented. In terms of content, the information is only related through its curiosity or unexpectedness. Knowledge acquisition or education cannot be guaranteed directly through quiz knowledge. However, this is indirectly possible because quiz questions can draw interest to a topic that is then deepened. This suggests that trivial or quiz knowledge cannot be called knowledge, although it is often common practice.
- Dietrich Schwanitz : What you shouldn't know . In: Education: Everything you need to know , Part Two, Chapter V., Goldmann, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-442-15147-3 .
- Duden online: Trivia
- Duden online: Trivium
- See Duden. Volume 1: The German spelling . 25th edition. Dudenverlag, Mannheim, Leipzig, Vienna and Zurich 2010
- See Renate Wahrig-Burfeind et al .: Wahrig Fremdwortlexikon . 6th, completely revised and updated edition. RM Buch und Medien Vertrieb GmbH et al., S. l. 2000
- Duden online: Varia