By Any Other Name, It’s Still a Bump in the Road

And about that page with a German term for “driving around when you’ve arrived too early”? It also includes a photo of a street sign with a Swedish word for “speedbump,” which apparently causes certain American visitors no end of hilarity. Here’s another pic.

Naturally, I’m now pondering terms for various “bumps in the road.” An Aussie pal tells me that where she comes from, speedbumps are sleeping policemen. Then there’s the English term thank-you-ma’am for a hollow or ridge in a road–inspired by the fact that, as the OED notes, hitting one “causes persons passing over it in a vehicle to nod the head involuntarily, as if in acknowledgement of a favour.” (Which is, I suppose, sort of like the sunken fence called a ha-ha, because of what you say when you nearly trip over it.)

For that matter, I’m also fond of the French term for “pothole”: nid-de-poule, or “hen’s nest” (and am very glad I’m not the only one who thinks about such things).

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