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AWADmail Issue 143November 13, 2004
A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Interesting Tidbits about Words and Languages
From: Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)
Using a New Language in Africa to Save Dying Ones
Old Etymologists Never Die: They Just Become Obsolete
Boost Your Verbal Prowess With A Battery
From: Walter Levy (wlevyATcomcast.net)
This word reminded me of a vanity license plate I saw years ago, NFUGUE, which puzzled me greatly until I noticed that the car to which it was affixed was a PRELUDE. Turns out the owner was a classical musician.
From: Keen James (kkj2323ATcox.net)
Columnist Russell Baker suggested, once, that there would be fewer collisions if the manufacturers would assign less aggressive names to their cars, such as Kittens, Bunny Rabbits, and Feather Dusters.
From: Jay Meadors (svrfsvpATyahoo.com)
Here are some of the names that poet Marianne Moore came up with when asked by Ford Motor Company to name a new car, which ultimately was called the Edsel: Resilient Bullet, Utopian Turtletop, Pastelogram, Mongoose Civique, Andante con Moto, and the Varsity Stroke 3.
None of those made the cut, so the name of Henry Ford's son was used, and disappointment ran rampant throughout the automotive world.
From: Paul Cowan (pooruATmac.com)
Certainly Camry is an anagram of "my car", but that's not where the name came from. It's from the Japanese kanmuri meaning crown. Thus, with the Toyota Crown and the Corona, there have been three Toyotas with the same name. In fact four, if, as I surmise, Corolla is a little crown.
From: Robert Zimmerman (robert.zimmermanATlmco.com)
My wife and I have speculated on vehicle names before. One day, while waiting in traffic behind a new VW SUV, I began toying with the car's name, and discovered that Touareg is an anagram for - OUTRAGE!
From: MJ Vaile (jesilu25AThotmail.com)
Ever noticed that SUBARU backwards is U R A Bus (you are a bus)?
I think it's quite appropriate considering Subarus (with 4-wheel drive and a high undercarriage) are often the environmentally friendly alternative to gas-guzzling SUVs. Their name seems to mock the oversized competition.
From: Patricia Preston (prestonpATumich.edu)
Regarding the interesting auto tidbits: I am told that "Subaru" is the Japanese word for the Pleiades. Take a look at the -- what? Hood ornament? Logo? Nameplate? The oval symbol on the front or back of the car.
From: Nick Webb (nwebbATiattc.org)
I wonder how well the Rolls-Royce Silver Mist sold in Germany, given that, in German, "Mist" means "manure".
From: Martin Clark (martinfclarkATyahoo.co.uk)
The Mitsubishi Pajero is sold in Spain under a different name because in Spanish vernacular it means something like w@nker.
From: James Nelson (James_nelsenATclosures.intier.com)
As an automotive engineer working for a major parts supplier in the Detroit area, I am enjoying this week's car name theme. Buick recently had to change the name of the LaCrosse in Canada because 'LaCrosse' is French-Canadian slang for, (ahem) self gratification.
From: Danny Rendleman (danny_rendlemanAThotmail.com)
I once owned a BSA motorcycle--which I understood to stand for Birmingham Small Arms company. My Honda cycle friends insisted it stood for Boy Scouts of America.
From: Stuart Tarlowe (starloweATearthlink.net)
Some years ago I had a purebred dog I named Buick. I told people that he was called Buick because I always wanted my dog and my car to have the same name, but I just couldn't afford a Rover.
From: Margaret Boles Fitzgerald (mfitzgeraldAThhcc.com)
Here's probably one of the least-known tidbits of trivia that was shared with me by a former Volvo Board member. Volvo is not some obscure Swedish word; instead, it is Latin for "I roll".
From: Bruce Schadel (bschadelATatt.net)
Your comments about the naming of cars reminds me that Yamaha has produced a line of cruiser-styled motorcycles called "Virago" since at least 1981.
From: Theodore R. Buddine (trbfromncATaol.com)
I recently noticed a new model of a Japanese car named a Tundra. Being fond of word origins, I speculated that the name was probably Russian. Well, it is, but the Russians got the word from the Laplanders, whose language is not even Indo-European but is related to Finnish. So we have a Japanese car, named with a Lappish word, being peddled to Americans. How supremely macaronic!
From: Janey Bennett (janeybennettATyahoo.com)
In Los Angeles during the height of the car break-ins, BMW was said to stand for Break My Window.
From: Steve Cecil (stevececilATaol.com)
In my article for ADWEEK Magazine, I called these "branagrams:"
Regal = Large
From: Janet Dalbec (sdalbecATaloha.net)
I was visiting in Denver CO 3 weeks ago when I saw my first Armada. There is a large Hispanic population there; nonetheless the well dressed professional Chicana looked puzzled when I commented that it appeared the invasion was successful this time. She burst out laughing when I pointed to her car and said that it was a twenty-first century Armada.
Don't forget the wannabe a car: the Aspire.
From: John Ryan (johnryan4ATearthlink.net)
Don't forget the Cressida. Don't remember who made it but I'll bet he never read Shakespeare.
From: Jeb B Raitt (raittjbATssg.navy.mil)
"We hope they named it after the island in Italy but one wonders if they knew that capri means goat."
There was once a sporty Pontiac called the GTO. One of the nicknames of that car was "goat". And it was an affectionate nickname, at that.
A friend of mine had several restored GTOs, one of which bore the custom license number CHEVRE 6. Seeing it, I figured the word was probably French, but I didn't know it, and so asked him. When he told me it was French for goat, I must have still registered puzzlement, because he went on to tell me that "goat" is a nickname for a GTO. So the mystery of that plate was two levels deep. To decipher it, you had to know that chevre = goat, and that goat = GTO.
From: Dianne Spotts (diaspotATverizon.net)
I liked the name "Spirit" by Dodge until it gave up its ghost.
I was reminded by annoying 'friends' (when I bought my first Taurus) that Ford stands for 'Found On Road Dead' or 'Fixed Or Repaired Daily'.
And my son is a confirmed Pontiyakker.
Bring back the horse and buggy!
From: Max Blyton (max.blytonATato.gov.au)
Five Englishmen in an Audi Quattro arrive at the Italian border.
The Italian Customs agent stops them and says, "It's illegal to put five
people in a Quattro."
"What do you mean it's illegal?" ask the Englishmen.
From: Vicky-Evic Go (reginacoelisATgmail.com)
On cars: ever heard the joke that goes: If a Dodge "Stealth" hits a Mitsubishi "Mirage", did the accident happen?
From: Sue K (skandziATearthlink.net)
Some years ago my daughter made an observation--Mirage, Eclipse, Shadow-- What's with all these cars that aren't there? Who would want to drive one?
From: Dick Timberlake (rhtimberlakeATadelphia.net)
In June of 2000, my wife's Suburban was rear-ended by a Pinto. Needless to say, the Pinto lost that battle. When I wrote my friends and relatives about the accident, I used the headline "Pinto Beans Suburban".
From: Carolanne Reynolds (ggATgrammarinfo.ca)
You featured the quotation:
More than 20 years ago I realized the extraordinary value of trees. One striking moment was flying from Nepal to Patna out of the mountains and seeing the dust rise from the dry, hot, almost barren plains; another flying in the Caribbean seeing clouds above islands with trees; and many others.
My mission has been, and I want my legacy to be, planting as many trees as possible. Shelter in winter and warmth, cool in summer; take our carbon dioxide and give us oxygen cleaning the air; quiet strength.
Some years ago, we were up in north western BC and I wrote this one:
Logging trucks coming,
I can still hear the rumbling as they passed nearby along a gravel road.
Tall trees just stand there helpless
Words are the soul's ambassadors, who go / Abroad upon her errands to and fro. -James Howell, writer (c. 1594-1666)