A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

More weird moments in automotive linguistics

I love language and I love words. I try to teach my students at least ONE "highfalutin'" word each day in all my classes (today's words: detritus and its cousins flotsam and jetsam. The kids liked how one could imply so much with just one word.)

The other day while we were waiting for the bell to ring, we had been talking about the power of words in advertising, and gave them the famous story of the Chevy Nova-- in Spanish that means "won't go." I also questioned whether Nissan really thought things through when they named an SUV "the Murano." This sounds suspiciously like "marrano," which was a Spanish pejorative for Conversos, Sephardic Jews who converted to Catholicism after the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492. It has the connotation of "filthy swine" in both Spanish and Portuguese.

So I have to wonder why Subaru would name an SUV "the Tribeca." Not many off-road possibilities in New Yawk, are there?

Do you have any favorites?



At 10/12/05, 6:48 PM, Blogger Jim Connolly said...

My favorite is the "got milk" translation into Spanish. Literally, it means "are you lactating?" Probably not the question intended by the American Dairy Producers Board.

At 10/13/05, 4:55 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Oh, that's a great one. Warning: this information will be used.

At 10/14/05, 7:30 AM, Blogger Real Live Woman said...

There was another incident like this in the automotive world not that long ago. The new Buick LaCrosse had to be renamed in Canada because "lacrosse" is a slang word for a sexual act in Quebec.



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