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  1. #1
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    A Fan Picking Linguistic Nits

    I think we English speaking cycling fans have some linguistically interesting traits... Please excuse spelling below... Some of these have changed over the last 20 years or so... at least from my perspective.

    We alternate between Yellow Jersey and Maillot Jaune...

    It is always Tour de France, and never Tour of France... With certain notable exceptions we pronounce France somewhat like the French do. And yet when we talk about the peloton entering Paris, we pronounce it as Americans do, and not as the French do.

    We use the French peloton, and any English term for the main group of riders has never hit my ears. But I have no idea what the French term for a breakaway is...

    Some common items have French names and no English equivalents are commonly used, like musettes and derailleurs...

    And it seems that almost everything else (other than locations) are English... even abbreviations, KOM, King of the Mountain, Polka Dot jersey. Green Jersey, White Jersey. Feed Zone, sprints, road rash... GC, Points Leader, Teams, Stages, Rest Days....

    I think it is fun to watch the cultural changes and I think more and more linguistic mixing will happen with time... Who knows, there may come a time when our great grandchildren will watch historical video of the 2007 tour and think it strange that we used to call them breakaways...

    I know I have probably missed much, since this is a spur of the moment posting. Any other thoughts?
    Slow Ride Cyclists of NEPA

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    That's not purely a TdF thing, we call the Vuelta and the Giro by their local names, without resorting to Spanish or Italian for anything else during those weeks. I think a lot of the other stuff is French, simply because that's who named them. Derailleur was coined by a Frenchman, just as fajita or carne asada was coined by a Mexican. Who wants chicken in a flat, corn disc? I'd rather have a taco. It only becomes disingenuine when you invent new terms for things, simply to make them sound more exotic. Like Hagen Dazs.

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    One more thing I thought of: It's Paris (in English) when you ride into it on the TdF, but it's Paris (par-ee) when naming the Paris-Roubaix, no? I think it's because that's the name of the event. A trademark if you will.

  4. #4
    fixed for the long haul 40 Cent's Avatar
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    Obviously depends a lot on where a sport started and developed like baseball in the US. I imagine most of the world borrows the American terms for that. Interesting that the French use "sprinteur" ("sprint" according to Le Petit Robert came into the French language in 1885) but "grimpeur" for climber.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Darwin View Post
    ...any English term for the main group of riders has never hit my ears.
    The field, the main bunch/group, the pack?

  6. #6
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fixiechick View Post
    The field, the main bunch/group, the pack?
    True, I gues I have heard them referred to as the pack or field...

    And when ettsn mentioned Paris-Roubaix... It reminded me that even places aren't consistent, we anglicize Paris, and the Eiffel tower, but not the Champs-Elysees or the Arc de Triomphe.

    Oh well, it has been a great race this year, and a French stage winner too!
    Slow Ride Cyclists of NEPA

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    Does anyone know if the word peleton in French is used only in cycling, or if it's applied to other sports or non-sports situations?

  8. #8
    fixed for the long haul 40 Cent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fixiechick View Post
    Does anyone know if the word peleton in French is used only in cycling, or if it's applied to other sports or non-sports situations?
    Pelote is a ball, like a ball of wool, and peloton is a small ball, which, according to the dictionary was first applied to people in a military context (1578 -- related to the English word platoon -- huh, how do you like that?) and then to racers (horses, motercyclists, cyclists) at the end of the 19th century.

    I think I'm going to call the main field the platoon from now on.

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