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The English Wikipedia writes:

Serendipity means a "fortuitous happenstance" or "pleasant surprise". It was first coined by Horace Walpole in 1754. In a letter he wrote to a friend Walpole explained an unexpected discovery he had made by reference to a Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip. The princes, he told his correspondent, were “always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of”. The name stems from Serendip, an old name for Sri Lanka (aka Ceylon), from Tamil Ceralamdivu, Sanskrit Simhaladvipa and Persian Sarandīp. Parts of Sri Lanka were under the rule of Tamil kings for extended periods of time in history. Kings of Kerala, India (Cheranadu) were called Ceran Kings and divu, tivu or dheep means island, the island belonging to the Chera King was called Cherandeep, hence Sarandib by Arab traders.
The notion of serendipity is a common occurrence throughout the history of scientific innovation such as Alexander Fleming's accidental discovery of penicillin in 1928, and the invention of the microwave oven by Percy Spencer in 1945, to name but a few.
The word has been voted one of the ten English words hardest to translate in June 2004 by a British translation company. However, due to its sociological use, the word has been exported into many other languages.

I want some serendipity! I want Goldtaler to fall on my Schoß! And I want to boast about my glorious serendipity in Spanish and German!

Related concepts: Windfall, fluke (chiripa - I want lots of that too!),

Update: The Spanish Real Academia de la Lengua has accepted the term serendipia! Isn´t it great? Will we have more serendipity now? I´m loving it! One thing is sure: the word is no longer difficult to translate into Spanish. As for German, see the comments below.


Am 09.03.2014 um 12:28 von mani
deutsch müsste heissen: "es fiel mir wie Schuppen von den Augen"
Am 09.03.2014 um 12:31 von mani
coming close in German is also "glücklicher Zufall"
Am 09.03.2014 um 02:35 von Jordi
Coming close indeed, mani, nice try, but knapp daneben ist IMHO auch vorbei. When falling like ¨Schuppen von den Augen¨ the lucky strike is missing, when limiting it to a ¨glücklicher Zufall¨ you miss the intentionality, it is a lucky accident, indeed, but you were looking for it, otherwise you could not have found your luck.

But it is a beautiful word, isn´t it?
Am 09.03.2014 um 10:32 von Stefan Seibt
I'd like to translate this ad "plötzliche Einsicht"
Am 09.03.2014 um 10:47 von Jordi
It sometimes is
Am 10.03.2014 um 10:56 von stefanb
Hmm, wie wäre es vllt. mit "göttliche Eingebung"?
Am 10.03.2014 um 03:27 von Jordi
Nicht schlecht, hängt wohl davon ab, an welche Gottheit man glaubt.;-)
Am 10.03.2014 um 04:05 von stefanb
Wobei der Ausdruck ja in dieser Beziehung völlig neutral bleibt, nur Atheisten kriegen evtl. Probleme... :-)
Am 15.03.2014 um 09:51 von Pablo Martínez
Según el País de hoy (http://cultura.elpais.com/cultura/2014/03/14/actualidad/1394821334_527559.html#sumario_1) la palabra serendipia se incorpora al léxico español con efecto inmediato.
Am 15.03.2014 um 09:56 von Jordi
¡Caray! ¡Los académicos del DRAE me hacen caso! Me alegro, y leyendo la lista que me mandas veo que también admiten el dron. Ahí hubiese preferido que cambiase el inglés, pero no me quejo. Menos da una piedra. Pablo, muchas gracias por el enlace (o hiperenlace, que veo que de golpe también admiten)

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