Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Learning | Happenstance and Q

Happenstance is only about 120 years old or so, which is not terribly old, as English words go.  I don't hear it used very often, but I've always liked the word. 

Happenstance is a portmanteau of the words happen and circumstance.

Recently, I was searching for pictures on, using the search term words. Happenstance brought me to this photograph of a page from a Finnish dictionary, showing all of the words beginning with the letter Q.

All the words beginning with Q in the Finnish dictionary, from hugovk's photostream on Some rights reserved.

I love this picture, because I learned a few things from it:  

  • I'm not familiar with the Finnish language at all, so I was intrigued to see that so few words begin with the letter Q. Q is not a very common letter in English, but we have many more Q words than the Finnish.
  • I nearly knew what all five of those Finnish Q words meant! Three of them were place names, that are spelled the same way as they are in English.  
  • I knew Quisling meant traitor who collaborates with an enemy force occupying their own country, from studying history during the World War II era. 
  • I had an idea what QWERTY-näppäimistö meant, because the letters QWERTY are the first five letters on most computer keyboards.  In fact, we usually call that type of keyboard a QWERTY keyboard.  So I went to Google Translate, and pasted in the word QWERTY-näppäimistö. Just as I suspected, it means qwerty keyboard. If you would like to hear how to pronounce the word, just copy and paste it into the Google Translate window.
  • Looking at this picture made me think about the Finnish language. I'm quite unfamiliar with the language. I never see people asking for, or checking out books about, the Finnish Language.  So I went to our shiny new library catalog and found a few. There are two different Finnish-English,English-Finnish dictionaries at Cesar Chavez Central Library. Chavez also has a Finnish Reader, in the government documents section of the Storage Area downstairs. It's from 1968!

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