Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Things that might make you say “Hmm”

A. Customs change at different rates. Sometimes the change happens so slowly that people hardly even notice. Sometimes it happens so suddenly that people can't help but notice.

For example, people who took annual vacations in Ukraine stopped doing that suddenly about a year ago, and everybody knows why. Another example: After Mount St. Helens erupted a few years ago, fewer people wanted to climb dormant volcanoes in the Pacific Northwest. (I don't really know if that's true, but it makes a nifty example.)

An example of slower change is the way people respond to being told "Thank you." In my age group (the Older Than Dirt crowd), we were taught to say "You're welcome". Around the time my children became adults, people didn't say "You're welcome" any more, and everybody was saying "No problem." Now that even my grandchildren are adults, "No problem" has fallen by the wayside. Gen Z'ers and millennials say "Of course!"

The world continues to be a strange place, if I do say so myself.

B. Many words that start with S in English start with E in Spanish and French, I will now use my newly-acquired skill of creating a table with HTML to show you some examples.

school escuela école
star estrella étoile
spinach espinaca épinard
Stephen Esteban Étienne
Spain España Espagne

C. Some alphabets have more letters than others. Here are some examples:

Hawaiian has 12 letters, 13 if you include apostrophe, and you probably should.

Greek has 24 letters. The one that looks like an X sounds like a K. The one that sounds like an X looks nothing like an X.

The Latin alphabet that we use for English has the 26 letters we know and love. J and W are fairly recent additions, relatively speaking. Old English had two letters called edh and thorn that have disappeared altogether.

The Russian alphabet has 33 letters. Several countries including Russia use the Cyrillic alphabet instead of the Latin one. When the old USSR used to send athletes to the Olympic Games, their uniforms said CCCP. Americans found this very confusing.

The Albanian alphabet has 36 letters, including ç, dh, ë, gj, ll, nj, rr, sh, th, and xh as distinct sounds. The xh sounds like a J. The J does not.

The Swedish alphabet has 29 letters consisting of the Latin letters A through Z plus Å, Ä, and Ö.

The written language of the Cherokee Indians is composed of 85 symbols that represent syllables (sounds) instead of letters.

Mandarin Chinese consists of around 50,000 ideographs although modern dictionaries contain only about 20,000 of them; an educated Chinese person might know about 8,000 of them. To be able to read a newspaper requires knowing between 2,000 and 3,000 of them.

All in all, I find the sort of stuff in this post to be very interesting. I hope you do too. I would hate to think I am talking to myself.


  1. I learned the Greek alphabet in the same way I learned lots of things.: sitting on the toilet with The Boys' Pocket Book. I'm sure somewhere in the last 20 years i've posted about it. It's proved very handy for crosswords but very little else. I was never taught to respond "You're welcome" when someone said 'Thank you." No response is needed.

    1. I learned the Greek alphabet as a pledge to a fraternity at university. We were required to say the whole thing in less than 10 seconds. I managed to do it in 8.

      Not to respond to 'Thank you' strikes me as very odd indeed. It seems to indicate the feeling that the 'thank you' is well-deserved. I could be wrong, of course, but it smacks of a lack of humility. Not you, of course, but others. Other responses I used to hear often (but don't any more) include "Don't mention it" and "Not at all" and "It was nothing". The Spanish say "por nada" and the French say "Il n'y a pas de quoi".

  2. I don't really know anything about alphabets except "alpha and omega"
    Recently I have found myself responding "no problem" to elderly people who ofetn seem to think it's a stupid response. Oh well, they will just have to take it in the spirit with which it is said because it could take ages to train myself out of it. Likewise the ubiquitous "like"

    1. Hi, kylie, thanks for commenting. I have not had access to a computer since Thursday of last week (Jan. 26th) until today (Jan. 31st) and I do apologize for my delay in responding. There is the added glitch that my phone refuses to let me comment on my own or anybody else's. Isn't technology wonderful? (Don't answer that!).

      I think as long as you know the One who IS the Alpha and the Omega you don't need to fret about alphabets.. Wouldn't it be great if in heaven we will be able to understand ALL languages! Graham Edwards made a whole post on his blog about responses to being told 'Thank you' that you might find interesting, including people's responses.

  3. Spanish J's sound like our H's, of course, which I find very interesting. I am fascinated by languages but don't know very much about them when all is said and done. Thank you for commenting, Jenny.


Name That Tune! (nocturnal version)

I can't remember whether I told you this already, but if I did I'm about to tell you again. God gives us songs in the night....