Topic 128 What a Coincidence ! 22 October 2021

Note: "What a coincidence!" is a common expression in English. We say this when things unexpectedly happen at the same time.

1. You go to some place and are surprised to see a friend there. Maybe you say, "What a coincidence! I didn't expect to see you here!." Can you give an example from your life where this happened?

2. We have an English idiom, "It never rains but it pours". This means that if something bad happens, somehow by coincidence (?) other bad things happen at the same time. [For example, at the beginning of the 3 day October long weekend, the Internet in my house suddenly died. The net provider, TPG, blamed NBN, and NBN had "taken a holiday until next week". Then my mobile phone account died. I had to borrow my housemate's phone to recharge it. They said my credit card had expired .... da da]. What is an example in your life of bad news all happening at once like this?

3. We have a beautiful English word called "serendipity". Serendipity is when you are trying to do one thing, then suddenly discover something not related to the first thing, but very, very good. [e.g. some people meet the love of their life like this ^_^ . Also it happens quite often in scientific research, like the discovery of penicillin]. Can you think of some examples of serendipity?

4. Superstitions are often made stronger by coincidences. For example, maybe you believe that doing a special dance will bring rain. You do the dance, and soon it rains. Maybe it was going to rain anyway, but you now feel quite sure that the dance magically caused the rain. Can you think of other examples where coincidence might make a superstition stronger?

5. Sometimes you might be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and be blamed for something. For example maybe you were walking past a house and somebody inside the house was murdered at the same time. The police can't find the murderer, so they blame you. This is called "circumstantial evidence". Can you think of other examples of being in the wrong place at the wrong time?

6. When there is a bad transport accident (like a plane crash), anyone who missed the trip will think they were very lucky. They might say something like, "It was just a coincidence. I twisted my ankle on the escalator and missed the flight". An English idiom for this situation is, "I missed a bullet". Can you think of any other situations where you (or someone else) "missed a bullet"?

7. Australia is often called "the lucky country". Why is Australia called lucky? Was it just unplanned coincidence that Australia became a 'lucky country'. What kind of coincidence(?) might cause the luck to disappear?

8. We have an English expression for when something truly surprising happens: "What are the odds?" [= what was the probability for this to happen?] For example, an uncle you haven't seen for 20 years sits down on a plane next to you. You exclaim "Wow! Uncle Fred! What are the odds of meeting you again like this?!" . Can you think of some other examples for saying "What are the odds?!"

9. An English expression for something inevitable is : "It is/was destiny" (= fate; not a coincidence). For example, in another country a lady once asked to marry me. I was surprised. "It is our destiny", she said. (Ha, ha. I thought it was calculation. I thought she wanted an Australian passport ... ). From your life, can you remember when someone (you?) might have said, "It is destiny." ?

10. Why do people do things which have a very low chance of success (= poor odds) and need a huge coincidence of luck to succeed? For example, why buy lottery tickets? Why buy a tourist ticket to a war zone (yes, people do that)?, Why believe an online romance scam ($millions lost every year by lonely people)? ... and so on.


Topic 128 What a Coincidence ! ©Thor May 2021