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vantheman
948171.  Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:16 am Reply with quote

Perhaps this is well-known, perhaps not, but... (And I can't be arsed to scour through the previous threads....)

Q: What country takes its name from a K-word meaning "a cluster of dwellings" or "a collection of huts?"

Klaxons: Kenya, Korea, Kosovo, Kiribati, Kazakhstan, Kuwait

Answer, of course: Kanata -- ergo, Canada. The word has various meanings, slightly adjustable depending upon original language (village, land, settlement). Could also lead to noting, rather comically I think, that another theory for the name is the Spanish/Portuguese mapping of the northern area as "aca nada" or "ca nada" ("nothing here").

Nice thing about this is that it can open a larger topic of Canada and various other questions related to it. One of the most interesting, I think, is about how "Canada" (such as it was) became a British colony. There was intense debate in Britain about whether to take from the French as a spoil of war either Canada or Martinique with most major voices at the time arguing for Martinique as Canada was thought to be largely useless land. The decision to take "Canada" (again, such as it was at the time), however, proved crucial in stemming American expansion in the early 1800s.

Should go without saying that there's a lot that's QI (and downright odd) about Canada. Perhaps most curiously, Canada only severed its legislative ties to Britain thirty years ago (1982) despite becoming independent 115 years earlier (1867).

There's also a trove of stuff related esp. to WW2 and Canada, which went from having no real navy at the beginning of the war to the 3rd largest in the world by the end of it. A good question for QI, I think: "Who controlled the English channel during the Normandy Invasion?" (Klaxons for Britain, the US or Germany.) Canada was charged with protecting the Overlord ships making their way across the Channel from German submarines and other potential sources of naval attack.

In fact, there's a very, very strong argument to be made that Britain was only able to withstand German assault and invasion because of Canada, whether in the form of supplying food & supplies (esp. prior to the US involvement in 1941), training RAF personnel and defending the Atlantic convoys. It's very possible -- and indeed probable -- that Britain wouldn't have been able to hold out against Germany without Canada, especially before the Yanks got their act together. (Other support from, say, Australia, NZ and other countries would likely not have been able to establish and secure itself in time and would have been severely over-extended geographically.) And yet, all of this gets rather forgotten in the mist of time, especially as the tide of war changed toward an Allied victory.

Yes, I know, this sounds like a commercial for Canada. Apologies for that. But QI, it seems, finds Canada most interesting in terms of its dinosaur pooh, toe-based drinks and myriad lakes.

 
suze
948189.  Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:08 pm Reply with quote

There's nothing wrong with commercials for Canada!

When I was in school, words like "mysterious" were used of the etymology of the name Canada. But yes, it probably was from a now-extinct language of the St Lawrence and meant something along the lines of "little town".


Now of course, if we were to use this on a K-Countries show, some smartass viewer would complain that Canada doesn't actually start with a <K>.

But the name of the language Kannada absolutely does (in English at least; locally it starts with a <>, which some probably won't be able to see). The name of this language is pronounced much as Canada (it is not stressed on the second syllable, whatever an old lecturer of mine claimed), and the language is spoken in ... India.

 
vantheman
948191.  Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:37 pm Reply with quote

Re Canada as K-Country: Well, it is one of those odd things in terms of how we spell the names of countries. In many countries, Canada is spelled "Kanada" (Poland, for example), and although Canada itself has adopted the Anglicized spelling, we'd probably be truer to the original wording if we went with the K. One of the things, though, I like about the question as I posed it is the deliberate misdirect. I never said the country name had to begin with a K, only the word it was named after. ;-) It sets up a nice little array of klaxons.

This also, of course, leads to the bizarre ways in which we use letters in English; why do we use K instead of C or sometimes Q. This becomes especially problematic when translating from languages which do not use the Romanesque alphabet. This becomes delightfully silly when one hears an American try to utter the word "Quebecois." Odd, though, that as time progressed, C was increasingly used for Anglocentric places, Q for Arabic places and K for African and other "exotic" places.

I knew about Kannada, but I love the irony: you have Kannadians in India and "Indians" (now "First Nations People") in Canada. Hindi-land and hinterland. Ah, Beckett was right: in the beginning was the pun....

 
nitwit02
948275.  Tue Oct 30, 2012 8:09 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
Yes, I know, this sounds like a commercial for Canada. Apologies for that. But QI, it seems, finds Canada most interesting in terms of its dinosaur pooh, toe-based drinks and myriad lakes.


Don't forget the, 'kissing of the cod'.

In addition to Poland, Germany also uses 'Kanada'.

 
mckeonj
948393.  Wed Oct 31, 2012 11:20 am Reply with quote

My Canada correspondent Steve (who is a postman, so is probably correct in this) states that there are now more Indians than Indians in Canada.
The term Indian was formerly applied to 'native North Americans', who now have an equally unwieldy name, and a special status in British Canada.
The term Indian is now applied rather loosely to people from the Indian sub-continent who have settled and integrated - although some are not Indian in the strict sense, being from Bangladesh or Pakistan or Sri-Lanka.

 
suze
948399.  Wed Oct 31, 2012 11:39 am Reply with quote

nitwit02 wrote:
In addition to Poland, Germany also uses 'Kanada'.


So, indeed, do the Inuit.

Except in Labrador where the Roman alphabet dominates, most Canadian Inuit would be more likely to write the name of the country as ᑲᓇᑕ. But the Roman alphabet equivalent is Kanata. (/d/ is absent from Inuktitut, hence the consonant change.)

 
Prof Wind Up Merchant
948429.  Wed Oct 31, 2012 3:15 pm Reply with quote

vantheman wrote:



I knew about Kannada, but I love the irony: you have Kannadians in India and "Indians" (now "First Nations People") in Canada. Hindi-land and hinterland. Ah, Beckett was right: in the beginning was the pun....


They live in the Indian State of Karnataka. Kannada is the language of the state.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kannada_language

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karnataka

I went there last in 1995.

 
vantheman
948502.  Wed Oct 31, 2012 10:42 pm Reply with quote

mckeonj wrote:
My Canada correspondent Steve (who is a postman, so is probably correct in this) states that there are now more Indians than Indians in Canada.
The term Indian was formerly applied to 'native North Americans', who now have an equally unwieldy name, and a special status in British Canada.
The term Indian is now applied rather loosely to people from the Indian sub-continent who have settled and integrated - although some are not Indian in the strict sense, being from Bangladesh or Pakistan or Sri-Lanka.


Canada generally alternates between Aboriginal Peoples and First Nations Peoples in its official terminology, although "Indian" is well alive in casual language and there was a cabinet portfolio for Indian Affairs until about 20 years ago. In formal language, though, "Indian" now refers only to people from India. It's very odd, though, because the idea of nationhood is very different in Canadian civil language than it is in other countries. Hence, for all intents and purposes, we have nations within the nation, and even nations within a nation within the larger nation. (This is not a Benny Hill joke, I promise you.) This is especially true in the lands held by the Cree in northern Quebec, where the Cree stood pretty adamantly against Quebecois nationalism and threatened to secede from Quebec if Quebec ever voted to separate from Canada (and this would have been a huge deal, because the Cree own the land on which is built the largest hydroelectricity provider in North America).

There is one up-side to all of this. Canada spent the best part of fifteen years struggling -- forgive the language, but the proper term is probably "f*cking agonizing" -- over the ideas of nationhood, sovereignty and cultural diversity. Thankfully, this now means most Canadians, apart from some nationalists in Quebec, want never, ever, ever to have to deal with that Sisyphian task again. To this day, mention the words "distinct society" to any Canadian and eyes will roll immediately and angrily. Mind you, it's a testament, I think, to something about the Cdn character (whatever that is) that all that nonsense transpired with relatively little bloodshed.

Ironically, Canada may have saved itself as a nation by means of a Mexican standoff, leading to stalemate, fatigue, exhaustion and, finally, agreeing just to put their (metaphorical) guns aside and get on with other matters. Consequently, although Canada has two official languages, most government documents are available in many different languages depending upon the area being serviced; for example, in northern communities, many are available in local aboriginal languages; in city-centres, there's regular translation for Vietnamese, Hindi, Arabic and Mandarin.

This leads to a bizarre fact -- that most Canadians, as of the 2006 census, did not identify themselves as Canadians by heritage; most still identified themselves in relation to other ancestries (e.g., Dutch, German) despite many of those people being third or fourth or fifth generation Canucks. The idea of "being Canadian" is very complex for Canadians when they're within Canada's borders. That changes, though, when they go abroad, of course, because saying you're Canadian basically says "I'm not American (please don't hurt me, I never did anything to you)." That's also why many Americans when they travel abroad sew maple leaves onto their clothes and luggage.

Canada: the Alec Guinness of countries -- largely indistinct, generally transmutable, overly polite, and capable of both great goofiness and surprising gravitas when necessary, but mercifully not usually.

 

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