Vernor Vinge likes to use “Q” to represent the /t͡ʃ/ sound of English “church”, similar to how it is used in pinyin. But he does this even in places that Chinese does not. So for example, there is an organization in some of his novels called the Qeng Ho, pronounced “cheng ho”, and inspired by the historical Chinese mariner Cheng Ho. But Cheng Ho is not romanized with a “Q”; in Pinyin it is written “Zheng He”.
In the case of the Qeng Ho this is totally legit, because the Qeng Ho exist ten or twenty thousand years in our future, and Vinge can make up whatever language he wants for them. He does like to hint that the languages in those novels are descended from Earth languages, but in ten thousand years anything can change.
However! One of the main characters in his 1986 novel Marooned in Realtime is Marta Korolev, and her full name is given at one point as Marta Qih-hui Qen Korolev. I now wonder if Vinge was thinking of the extremely common name “Chen” (陳) when he named Marta Korolev “Qen”.
But “Chen” is not spelled with a Q in Pinyin. It is spelled “Chen”. Not only is there is no name “Qen”, but there cannot be because in in Mandarin “q” is never followed by “e”. And Korolev was born around the beginning of the 21st century, not 10,000 years from now.
Oh well. Maybe “Qen” is Albanian.
In 2001, I noticed something fun. One of the main characters in Vernor Vinge's 1999 novel A Deepness in the Sky is Qiwi Lin Lisolet. One of the main characters in his 1986 novel Marooned in Realtime is Marta Korolev, and her full name is given at one point as Marta Qih-hui Qen Korolev. Aha, they have the same name — “Qiwi” appears to be a modified spelling of “Qih-hui”.
I emailed Vinge about this:
He replied “Wow!”
Vinge told me that although they did indeed have the same name, and he did intend “Qiwi” to have been be descended from the real Chinese name “Qih-hui”, his repeated use of the name was an unintended coincidence, and he hadn't been aware that he had done it until I pointed it out.
What is the difference between:
Lately I have been enjoying the special punctuation mark “!!1!”. I think it is like a regular exclamation mark, except that it expresses a sort of unrestrained exuberance and enthusiasm, but with a strong mocking or ironic connotation.
Too many mathematicians have the same name. This is a problem!
For example, I am always mixing up Garrett Birkhoff and George David Birkhoff. But they at least have an excuse for their similar names: George David was Garrett's father, or maybe his son. One or the other, anyway.
I remember discovering with surprise that Aviezri Fraenkel was not the namesake of Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory. That was Abraham Fraenkel. At least I picked up pretty quickly that Michael Guy was the son of Richard K. Guy. But I once met Andrew Appel and struggled for half an hour to figure out why I had heard of him before, eventually realizing that I had been thinking of his father, Kenneth Appel, who was famous for his proof (with Wolfgang Haken) of the four-color theorem.
In researching this article, I discovered for the first time that noted topologist E.H. Moore, co-inventor of the important net concept and the associated notion of Moore-Smith convergence, is not only not the same person as, but not even related to, noted topologist R.L. Moore.
I am not even going to get into the matter of the dozen or so famous scientists and mathematicians named Bernoulli.
I am happy to admit that most of these are just my own ignorance and carelessness. The Birkhoffs are related. The Bernoullis are related. The names “Moore” and “Fraenkel” are common. My occasional confusion of John Milnor and Robin Milner is inexcusable since they are not even spelled the same way. For a long time I inexplicably conflated professor Scott Weinstein with Dana Scott.
But, Gentle Readers, there is one mistake that I refuse to be responsible for, because the universe has conspired against me. There is a famous graph theorist, the namesake of the Rado graph, Rado's theorem of Ramsey theory, the Erdős-Rado theorem, and other similar matters. As you might expect of a frequent collaborator of Erdős, he is a Hungarian. Obviously, I refer to noted Hungarian mathematician Tibor Radó.
Except no, I don't. Tibor Radó is not known for any of those combinatoric and graph-theoretic results. He is the famous namesake of theorems, but in the wholly unrelated fields of complex analysis and harmonic functions. He never collaborated with Erdős.
The Rado who collaborated with Erdős was noted German mathematician Richard Rado.