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AWADmail Issue 143

November 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)
Subject: Stories from the net

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)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--prelude

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)
Subject: car names

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)
Subject: Car Names

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)
Subject: Camry

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)
Subject: Anagrammatic Car Names

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)
Subject: Subaru

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)
Subject: Auto naming

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)
Subject: Car names

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)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--prelude

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)
Subject: Random thoughts on car names

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)
Subject: Theme for the week

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)
Subject: Re: Prelude (and other car names)

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)
Subject: And more about cars!

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)
Subject: car names

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)
Subject: names of cars

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)
Subject: What BMW means

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)
Subject: more car anagrams

In my article for ADWEEK Magazine, I called these "branagrams:"

Regal = Large
Denali = Denial
Laredo = Ordeal
Mustang = Guts, Man!
Diamante = Animated
PT Cruiser = Scripture
Chevrolet = Tech lover
Silhouette = Hotel suite
Monte Carlo = Clean motor

From: Janet Dalbec (sdalbecATaloha.net)
Subject: Re Car Names

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)
Subject: names of cars

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)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Caprice, Capri, GTO

"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)
Subject: AWAD 'cars'

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)
Subject: cars

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.
"Quattro means four," replies the Italian official.
"Quattro is just the name of the automobile," the Englishmen retort disbelievingly. "Look at the papers: this car is designed to carry five persons."
"You can't pull that one on me," replies the Italian customs agent.
"Quattro means four. You have five people in your car and you are therefore breaking the law."
The Englishman replies angrily, "You idiot! Call your supervisor over -- I want to speak to someone with more intelligence!"
"Sorry," responds the Italian official, "he can't come. He's busy with two guys in a Fiat Uno."

From: Vicky-Evic Go (reginacoelisATgmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--caprice

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)
Subject: auto names

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)
Subject: Pinto

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)
Subject: Re: the quotation on trees this week

You featured the quotation:
Trees are the earth's endless effort to speak to the listening heaven. -Rabindranath Tagore, poet, philosopher, author, songwriter, painter, educator, composer, Nobel laureate (1861-1941)

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,
keep coming, coming --
the land haemorrhaging wood

I can still hear the rumbling as they passed nearby along a gravel road.

Tall trees just stand there helpless
No cry. No escape.
and the chainsaw gnaws.

Words are the soul's ambassadors, who go / Abroad upon her errands to and fro. -James Howell, writer (c. 1594-1666)

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