Cars and puns

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Wed Sep 8 11:43:25 UTC 1999


As Roly Sussex well knows, this fun extended to Poland, where the same
Skoda auto was well-known, and where, with the same pronunciation he
indicates, it meant (in Polish) "what a shame" or "too bad."

dInIs Prestonski

PS: I have lots of these in the back of my brain from my youth, but I can't
seem to drag many up. Certainly I recall (even in the late 40's and in use
by the previous generation at least) an exaggerated pronunciation of
Chevrolet to sound like "she-ever-lay" [shi:evrley] (i.e. "(Does) she ever
lay?). Ah what wits we were in those days!

>Here's a more exotic one. The Czech car maker Skoda (there should
>be a hacek on the S, making it Shkoda in pronunciation) has a
>name which unfortunately also means "damage, harm, injury". They
>used to make a model called the 1000MB, which Czechs dubbed
>tisic malych bolesti, or thousand small aches/troubles.
>(if you are going to be absolutely correct, you need an acute
>accent on the second "i" in tisic, on the y in malych, and
>on the i in bolesti, all of which lengthen the vowel).
>Roly Sussex
>The University of Queensland

Dennis R. Preston
Professor of Linguistics
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736

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