Car talk

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Mon Nov 26 00:00:37 UTC 2012

On Sun, Nov 25, 2012 at 6:49 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
> Debunkers of popular etymologies may want to read today's encarnation
> in the Boston Globe of Peter DeMarco's column on transportation, "Who
> Taught You to Drive?".
> On-line, it's titled "Driving lingo etymology, Part 1".  On paper, it
> doesn't promise a Part 2, but ends with the teaser "We'll get to
> Jersey barriers and station wagons next time."
> In particular, it consults our own, and the Globe's, Ben
> Zimmer.   Also, it cites Bonnie as originating "Black Friday" with
> the Philadelphia police and traffic jams.  Is that correct?  To the
> best of my recollection, the research found it associated earlier
> with employee absenteeism the day after Thanksgiving.

Yes, Bonnie found the association with employee absenteeism from 1951
(a decade before the Philadelphia cites), but it's association with
the holiday shopping rush (and ensuing traffic) that's most relevant
for modern understandings of the term. See, again, my Word Routes
column summarizing Bonnie's research last year:


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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