Tuesday, November 26, 2013

2121 Billy Chevy

I was stopped at a stoplight last Veteran's Day. Feeling in a patriotic frame of mind, I noticed the street I was on was called an avenue and the car next to me was an SUV from Korea which had a guy in it eating a croissant and drinking a latte.  I also noticed the big name on the American-made truck in front of me. It said Chevrolet.

Hmm, I thought, how odd that the most iconic American car brand, favored by Billy-Bob rednecks from St Louis to Louisiana, should have a Frenchy-sounding name.

Which, of course, got me curious to look up that name and find out what it actually means in French. I'm here to say the good old American ingenuity of the internet didn't let me down.

At first there appeared to be no direct translation of Chevrolet. The name Chevrolet came from a guy named Louis Chevrolet. He was a Swiss race car driver and engineer who founded the Chevrolet Motor Car company in Detroit, in 1911.

Hmm. Since there was no French to English direct translation, the closest I could come was chevalier, which is the French word for knight. Knights of the roundtable sort of knight. We also get the word chivalry from that same root. Also the word Cavalier.

A brand I think Chevrolet made for a while. Namewise at least, a Chevrolet Cavalier would have been perfect for the Knight Rider series. 

Finally I found a website that gave origins of French and Swiss surnames. Hold your horses knights. Or maybe your goats. Because the "chevro" in Chevrolet comes from chevre, meaning goat. The "let" comes from lait, l-a-i-t, meaning milk. 

The most famous American brand name means goat milk.

Me? I always wanted a Goat Milk Corvette. 

America, ya gotta love it. 

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