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Mind Your p's and q's

  1. Mar 30, 2006 #1
    http://www.webster.com/cgi-bin/wftw.pl

    How would "q" represent "thank you" in the case of p's and q's standing for "please" and "thank you"?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 30, 2006 #2

    Moonbear

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    That's the part I've never understood. And I don't see how any of those explanations somehow translate into pleases and thank yous either. Unless people have always been notoriously bad spellers...thanq you? :biggrin:

    Could it have come from another language? Is there a language where the respective words for please and thank-you start with "p" and "q"? Or, is q a shorthand way to write "thank you?" Perhaps something from the days of calling cards left in a bowl at the door?
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2006
  4. Mar 30, 2006 #3

    brewnog

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    I was always under the impression that it was just the typographers saying, - the P's and Q's in letterpress type are obviously reversed, and at first glance look like the one which they're not! Never seen it to be anything else, really.
     
  5. Mar 30, 2006 #4

    Danger

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    I always figured that it was a sign on a pool-hall washroom wall.
     
  6. Mar 30, 2006 #5
    A warning to sloppy ornithologists, "Mind your plovers and quails" ?
     
  7. Mar 30, 2006 #6

    honestrosewater

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    I don't really have an opinion about this, but thank you is pronounced as thang Q, and please does seem to contain pees in a somewhat similar manner. It's rather sloppy, but these things can be. Just the other day, I discovered the idiom 'kicks with the other foot', which someone claimed that Dubliners use in order to say that a man is gay. (I actually did try to deduce the meaning of that one at first, but gave up after a bit of chuckling and eyebrow gymnastics.) I saw one explanation that it originally meant that someone was of another religion and referred to some difference in the way people who were associated with two different religions played some sport (literally kicking with another foot under some conditions). Who knows?
     
  8. Mar 31, 2006 #7
    Incidentally, who won the gold this year?
     
  9. Mar 31, 2006 #8

    BobG

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    How could a typesetter confuse the two since they face opposite directions?

    It would make more sense to say, "Mind your d's and p's." or, "Mind your b's and q's." Since p is just d rotated 180 degrees, it would be easy for an apprentice typesetter to confuse the two. Likewise for b's and q's. Likewise for n's and u's, for that matter. A blonde apprentice could spend hours trying to figure out the difference between those letters. :rofl:
     
  10. Mar 31, 2006 #9
    p and q are right next to each other in the alphabet and I expect the bins of type were right next to each other as well. The letters appear reversed on the type, so if you're not minding it, it would be easy for an apprentise to pick up the wrong piece of type
     
  11. Mar 31, 2006 #10

    BobG

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    Do they actually have bins for n, p, and q?
     
  12. Mar 31, 2006 #11
    In high school we had a little printing press and typesetting was an extra curricular activity anyone could do. I tried it a couple/three times. All the letters were each in a bin of their own, yes. I don't know to what extent our little setup was similar to an authentic newspaper or publishing house, though.
     
  13. Apr 1, 2006 #12

    honestrosewater

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    Why, Vincent Price, of course.
     
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