Wednesday 12 May 2010

ABC Wednesday Q

Q is the 17th letter of the English alphabet. It holds 19th place in the Phoenician and Hebrew alphabets. It is normally followed by 'u' and indeed was sometimes represented thus in classroom alphabet charts. It may still be – I just haven't seen it so for many years.
When it is not followed by 'u' it is commonly in transliteration from Arabic words like Qatar. Usually the pronunciation is 'kw' though there are exceptions, like quay, queue, quiche, picturesque, grotesque.
As a mediaeval Latin numeral Q represents 500.
During the First World War (1914 – 1918) Q ship was the name given to warships that had been disguised as tramp steamers. These ships were used to lure U-boats to destruction. Submarines had a limited supply of torpedoes and would only deploy them against warships. If a submarine detected a merchant vessel it would surface in order to fire shells at it. The objective was to destroy vessels carrying vital supplies. Once the submarine had surfaced the Q ship would uncover its hidden guns and fire.
HMS Tamarisk was a British First World War Q-ship, built on the Clyde.
This painting is of an event that occurred on 8 August 1917 in the Bay of Biscay. HMS Dunraven did not manage to sink the submarine she had lured but was significantly damaged herself and sank early on 10 August as the British destroyer HMS Christopher had begun to tow her towards Plymouth. Two of the crew members - Lieutenant Charles Bonner and Petty Officer Ernest Pitcher - were awarded Victoria Crosses in recognition of the efforts of the Dunraven's crew.
Both images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Q was the nom-de-plume of Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch who was an author, a professor of English Literature at Cambridge and the editor of the first 'Oxford Book of English Verse' in 1900. Q was also the codename given to the character in the James Bond films who provides 007 with a seemingly unending supply of Quirky accoutrements.
There are a number of words beginning with Q that I find strangely attractive. For example, the Quagga (Equus quagga) is now extinct. It was native to South Africa and was a Quaint zebra-like animal with yellow-brown stripes on its head, neck and forebody. I like Quintessential and Quizzical, Quietus, Query, Quadrille and Querulous and of course, we should not overlook Don Quixote tilting at windmills from whose name comes the adjective Quixotic!
Thank you to Denise Nesbitt and the members of her cheerful team who organise and host this weekly meme. To see more Qs please click here.


  1. Great information on your post; who would have guessed? Wasn't aware of much of the information.

  2. Terrific post, Janice, and so informative! I, too, learned things I wasn't aware of. Hope your week is going well!


  3. Wow!that was wonderful.
    I have to look up Quietus and Quadrille.
    I love ur blog, especially the memes- microfiction and face of the week.will try n participate next time.I have been neglecting my personal blog..!

    yeah! Gin n Bud both had a shower.They just LOVE water and would go stand at the bathroom door or the terrace demanding a bath. it's extremely hot here these days, so they enjoy their bath after their walk.

  4. My dear Jabblog,

    You are such a creative writer so I am TAGGING YOU.. please go to Wordy Wednesday @Tara Miller Writes to write the next 1-3 lines to a story yet told! Once you have done that, please TAG others too. Take care of you! hugs shakira

  5. Hi,
    I am back to let u know that i've joined the Face of the Week meme. Do check out my post and let me know what u think.

  6. Great Q post! I enjoyed all the information.

  7. What a great collection of "Q" facts. I miss ABC Wednesday. I'll have to try to remember to join in next week.

  8. Well I think you have covered all the Qs there, fascinating. Its a nice capital letter to write as well. Find it tricky in scrabble to remember which Q words don't have a U, which of course I never possess.

  9. I too thought of Sir Arthur Quiller Couch for 'Q' day, but I couldn't remember what he was famous for except something in the realm of literature. I didn't have much time to do the research. Good for you!

  10. Thanks for the lesson on Q, especially the Q boats. I like Q in James Bond. Always looking forward to his gadgets.

    Thanks for visiting.

  11. What interesting information and a very unusual 'take' on Q.

  12. Q is more useful than I imagined

  13. You are a fountain of knowledge. A very interesting post indeed ;-)

  14. An interesting post for the letter "Q". On behalf of the ABC Wed. team, thanks for participating.

  15. Plenty of good Qs in there! Well done! A very Quirky and fun post, but not very Quick to read with that large Quantity of information! LOL!

    Seems like a dangerous game, luring submarines. :(

  16. I have a friend who usually goes by his middle name, but in recent years, we call him Q, for his first name, Quentin.

    Very interesting history re the Q boats. Don't think they do that Qu on the school charts anymore, at least not in my daughter's kindergarten classroom.

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team.

  17. wow..very nice entry..thanks for sharing this information.

    Thank you anyway for commenting to my ntry.

    Have a great day.


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