On the Trail of Language

Gosh, it's been a while. Not that I haven't had what to say; but I've said it mostly in my new blog, Nina Makes Tracks. That's because I've been on the road for the past few weeks, and am continuing my journey.

Previously, when I've been away on a trip, I tried to limit my blogging here to language related issues, with a rather broad definition of "language related". So before embarking on this-here trip, I thought I'd split my experiences and impressions into trip-related and language-related. Not sure how well that is working out; obviously, the two are interwoven.

Nonetheless, here are a few language-related things I came across along the way:

1. Turnout (American) vs. Layby (British)
As you drive along narrow, winding country roads, every once in a while you have a sort of bay on the side of the road that lets you pull over and let other vehicles pass you, whether in the same direction or coming from the opposite direction.
I've gotten used to the British term "layby", while the American term still sounds funny to me: "turnout" is the number of people who show up for a lecture or event.
E.g.: The lecture on the translation of sex scenes had a very good turnout, whereas the AGM had a rather poor turnout.

2. On our RV trip, we keep buying bottled water, since we've been driving through some pretty arid areas and not all places where we stop have potable water. Generally, we simply buy the cheapest on offer. The last batch we bought was labeled Niagara - purified drinking water. This had me smiling. For Americans and Canadians, this is obviously a perfectly good name, calling to mind torrents of cool, natural water. For Israelis, on the other hand, "niagara" is a synonym for the toilet tank of a flush toilet.

3. While in Las Vegas, we were lucky enough to be taken to see a performance of Cirque du Soleil's production, "Love", set to music of the Beatles. It was magnificent. After the show, I leafed through the program, Inside Cirque du Soleil, Spring 2010. And guess what I found on page 20, in the article The 10 Commandments of Sensuality. The caption for the two photos illustrating Commandment #5 reads as follows: "Nordic God (white shorts) and Dark Knight (black shorts) in the throws of a feverish dance exploring the depths of love and anger." [Emphasis mine].

C'est tout pour aujourd'hui, mes amis.

The open road calls. The RV is "good to go", as they say here.
We continue to travel towards Yellowstone.


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