WOTCHER.

The Phrase Finder has a good entry on what is now perceived as the Cockney exclamation “Wotcher,” which is actually the much older “What cheer?” in disguise; the latter goes back to at least the fifteenth century (York Mysteries, circa 1440: “Say Marie doghtir [daughter], what chere with ye?”). There are all sorts of goodies there, including this list of greetings my parents probably chuckled over in their youth:

In the mid-20th century, there was something of a fashion in the US for jocular greetings, in the same vein as the nonsense ‘enthusiasm’ phrases like the bee’s knees, the cat’s pyjamas etc.
  Hello Joe, what d’ya know?
  What’s buzzin’ cousin?
  What’s knittin’, kitten?
  What’s steamin’ demon?
  What’s tickin’, chicken?
  What’s your story, morning glory?
  What’s your tale, nightingale?
  What’s on the agenda, Brenda?
  etc, etc.

And at the end it explains why it’s now thought of as Cockney (it all has to do with Albert Chevalier, “The Singing Costermonger,” and his signature tune “Knocked ’em in the Old Kent Road”). This comes courtesy of a MetaFilter post (by the wonderful Jessamyn West) on a San Francisco institution forgotten for a century or more, Woodward’s Gardens (1866-1891), which developed from a temperance hotel called the What Cheer House.

Comments

  1. For further variations on the theme of rhyming greetings, see Michael Adams’ new book, Slang: The People’s Poetry. (He discusses inventing new greetings with his wife, most memorably “How’s it goin’, protozoan?”)

  2. Re “What cheer?”, see also the seal of the city of Providence, Rhode Island.

  3. See ya later, alligator.
    In a while, crocodile.

  4. Funny named monuments and statues in Dublin – http://kuzjavyj.livejournal.com/112491.html – just saw it today via LJ

  5. Later when you’re straighter!

  6. Also, “Hi ho, Steverino”. Oddly enough, there doesn’t seem to be a Wikipedia article on Rhyming Greetings.

  7. Also, “Hi ho, Steverino”. Oddly enough, there doesn’t seem to be a Wikipedia article on Rhyming Greetings.
    Not to be a killjoy, but that doesn’t rhyme.

  8. “Woyd”?

  9. “Woyd”?

  10. hey bro
    That doesn’t rhyme either; “bro” (brother) is just a street word for a black male.

  11. From Bye, Bye Birdie (1963)
    -Hi, Nancy!
    -Hi, Helen!
    What’s the story, morning glory?
    What’s the tale, nightingale?
    -Tell me quick about Hugo and Kim!
    -Hi, Margie!
    -Hi, Alice!
    What’s the story, morning glory?
    -What’s the word, humming bird?
    -Have you heard about Hugo and Kim?

  12. J.W. Brewer says:

    1963 is the date of the film version of Bye Bye Birdie, a few years after the original Broadway run (although you’d have to be more interested than I am to figure out if the particular song was also in the original stage version).
    But regardless of that antedating issue, 1963 was an outstanding year for the bird/word rhyme in American English because that’s when the Surfin’ Bird, as recorded by the Trashmen, made it up to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. So the answer to the question is “bird bird bird bird is the word.”

  13. I know what bro is and I never said it did rhyme.
    Jesus.

  14. I know what bro is and I never said it did rhyme.
    Jesus.

  15. “What’s shakin’, bacon?” (restricted pretty much to police, for obvious reasons)
    And then the ever popular, “Que pasa, raza?”

  16. if the particular song was also in the original stage version
    “Telephone Hour” was most definitely in the stage version of Bye, Bye Birdie that was performed in high schools in the 60s and 70s. I wonder if it’s still around.

  17. Uncle Kvetch says:

    I remember hearing back in the 80s about a short-lived fad among pre-teenagers in France involving a variety of rhyming phrases, all of them basically meaning “Chill out, Dude”:
    Relax, Max
    À l’aise, Blaise
    Pas de panique, Véronique

  18. J.W. Brewer says:

    Another famous set of such rhyming phrases is in Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” although rather disappointingly he only comes up with five illustrative rhymes (Jack, Stan, Roy, Gus, Lee), leaving the promise of the title 90% unfulfilled.

  19. marie-lucie says:

    a short-lived fad among pre-teenagers in France involving a variety of rhyming phrases, all of them basically meaning “Chill out, Dude”
    These phrases no doubt were created on the pattern of the long-lived English phrases.

  20. Alan Shaw says:

    Hey, Joe, whaddaya know? I just got back from Kokomo!

  21. michael farris says:

    Salutations, from the United Nations!

  22. he only comes up with five illustrative rhymes, leaving the promise of the title 90% unfulfilled
    There goes rhymin’ Simon.

  23. he only comes up with five illustrative rhymes, leaving the promise of the title 90% unfulfilled
    There goes rhymin’ Simon.

  24. michael farris says:

    “Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” …. rather disappointingly he only comes up with five illustrative rhymes (Jack, Stan, Roy, Gus, Lee), leaving the promise of the title 90% unfulfilled.”
    I’m glad I’m not the only person who was bothered by that (just as I was bothered by glossing over the Professor and Mary Anne as “the rest”). But while the latter injustice was eventually set (partly) right, the former has yet to be properly addressed. I suggest that we help fill out the list.
    “catch the train, Blaine”
    “skip Christmas Eve, Steve”
    “try out your luck, Buck”
    “time to depart, Art”
    “buy tickets on line, Mr. Fine”
    “go and hitchhike, Mike”
    “get out the lead, Fred”
    “turn the car on, John”
    “take the goats downtown, Crown”
    I’m sure there are others.

  25. Drive a Yaris to Paris, Farris.

  26. Drive a Yaris to Paris, Farris.

  27. Zythophile says:

    What did Bertie Wooster reply when his servant asked him who his favourite French painter was?
    “Watteau, Jeeves!”
    15 ways to love your liver:
    Leave your suitcase in the hall, Paul
    Sail off on an ark, Mark
    Throw yourself a farewell party, Marty
    Flag down a tuk-tuk, Chuck
    Hide away in a cave, Dave
    Buy yourself a pogo stick, Dick
    Don’t let her get hurt, Curt
    Get a ticket for the ferry, Gerry
    Drive off in a Morris, Horace
    Find yourself a new bint, Clint
    Ride away in a taxi, Maxie
    Go and live with your dad, Brad
    Catch a town-bound train, Hussein
    Walk five hundred miles, Giles
    Take a boat to Brazil, Bill
    (that’s enough lover leavers – ed)

  28. That’s only 30 ways so far, but it’s easy to lose count with the amazing Steve Gadd on drums.
    What about Simon and Garfunkel’s Feelin’ Groovy (The 59th Street Bridge Song)?: “Hello lamp post whatcha knowin’; I’ve come to watch your flowers growin.'”

  29. marie-lucie says:

    Thank you for the link, Nijma.
    Simon does not say he is going to itemize the 50 ways, only “there must be 50 ways”, and he thinks of a few.

  30. michael farris says:

    “Simon does not say he is going to itemize the 50 ways”
    Because he can’t rhyme like I can!!!!
    Fly like a goosie, Marie-Lucie,
    Don’t let the door hitcha, Nijma.
    … I’m so very sorry, I don’t know what came over me.

  31. Go feed the cat, Hat.

  32. Go feed the cat, Hat.

  33. John Emerson says:

    I’m not sure we have a gift for this poetic form.

  34. Take an heiress to Polaris, Farris.
    Get on your cycle, Michael.

  35. I’m not sure we have a gift for this poetic form.
    Yeah, well you try finding a rhyme for ‘nijma’, Mr Smartypants Emerson.

  36. I’m not sure we have a gift for this poetic form.
    Yeah, well you try finding a rhyme for ‘nijma’, Mr Smartypants Emerson.

  37. Ha, the Nijma one didn’t rhyme, did it.
    “Get out of town, Crown.”
    “Join a Saracen garrison, Emerson.”

  38. Sadly, there are no rhymes for Emerson.

  39. Sadly, there are no rhymes for Emerson.

  40. michael farris says:

    “Ha, the Nijma one didn’t rhyme, did it.”
    Well the vowels rhyme and the consonant distribution rhymes (if you geminate the affricate)
    [‘hittS@]
    But it was reaching.
    “Sadly, there are no rhymes for Emerson.”
    I think that fact hardened his heart against the beauty of my poetry.

  41. I’m not so sure about “geminating affricates”, Farris–it sounds terribly naughty, and I’d probably just end up with sibilants–but the unexpected colloquialism gave me a good chuckle.
    We can’t let Emerson feel left out, though. How about
    “Begone to Taiwan for won ton on yon python, John.”

  42. There once suffered John Emerson
    In swamps of poesy swift tremors on
    His legs of rhyme,
    And slipped in the slime,
    And versed in circles, John Emerson.

  43. Farris is the fizzy water in Norway. To be Michael Farris in Norway is to be Mike Coca-Cola in Atlanta.

  44. Farris is the fizzy water in Norway. To be Michael Farris in Norway is to be Mike Coca-Cola in Atlanta.

  45. michael farris says:

    Ever since I found this out, I’ve been longing to go to Norway and be greeted with the acclaim I deserve.

  46. John Emerson says:

    Knut Hamsun had a good friend named Bang.
    The Norse are weird, starting with Hamsun and ending with Kuruunu here. Hamsun especially so. He wasn’t even a proletarian writer — he was virtually a serf in his youth (his father gave him to his uncle in repayment of a debt).
    I’m planning a Culture and “Personality of Scandinavia as Revealed in their Great Authors” article. So far I have Hamsun, Dineson, Hans Christian Anderson, Kierkegaard, Strindberg, and Swedenborg. Basically these are the main Scandinavian personality types.
    I left out Ibsen, Lagerkvist, and Lagerlof because they’re outliers. (And who are Lie, Bjornson, and Kjelland, anyway?)
    In Rolvaag’s “Giants of the Earth”, written in Norwegian in Minnesota, two (2) major figures freeze to death in different incidents. Coming from a balmy climate, the Norse were not prepared for the Minnesota winters.

  47. Don’t let your phlegm worsen, Emerson.

  48. Knut Hamsun had a good friend named Bang.
    Well obviously Bang doesn’t mean ‘bang’ in Norway, that would be silly. No, the Norwegian word meaning ‘bang’ is smell. Is this who you’re thinking of? In Minnesota he’s probably known as ‘Peculiar Smell’ Hansen.
    I never thought of HC Andersen as having a personality type, he was very unusual. Hamsun, on the other hand, was not only an anglophobe, he was a complete and utter nazi, much worse than Heidegger.
    Norway is only balmy and Mediterranean around its coast, inland it has a continental climate that’s like Minnesota in winter.
    Another thoroughly unpleasant personality, I suspect, was Roald Amundsen. He wasn’t really a writer, although I expect he wrote the occasional letter. He was rumoured to have been the father of King Olav, but I think that was rubbish. King Olav was a very nice man.

  49. Knut Hamsun had a good friend named Bang.
    Well obviously Bang doesn’t mean ‘bang’ in Norway, that would be silly. No, the Norwegian word meaning ‘bang’ is smell. Is this who you’re thinking of? In Minnesota he’s probably known as ‘Peculiar Smell’ Hansen.
    I never thought of HC Andersen as having a personality type, he was very unusual. Hamsun, on the other hand, was not only an anglophobe, he was a complete and utter nazi, much worse than Heidegger.
    Norway is only balmy and Mediterranean around its coast, inland it has a continental climate that’s like Minnesota in winter.
    Another thoroughly unpleasant personality, I suspect, was Roald Amundsen. He wasn’t really a writer, although I expect he wrote the occasional letter. He was rumoured to have been the father of King Olav, but I think that was rubbish. King Olav was a very nice man.

  50. Mr. Emerson, would it be alright if I corrected your spelling? H.C. Andersen’s name has an “e” in it, not an “o,” and if it’s Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) you’re you had in mind, his/her(?) name is also spelt with an “e.”
    Danish patronymic-form surnames use the suffix -sen. It seems counter-intuitive to me, as the Danish for “son” is “søn,” but I know very little about the history of the language. If I did, I’d probably understand why they use “-sen.”

  51. John Emerson says:

    Danes are going to have to learn to accept the proper spelling of Norse.

  52. Rølvaag’s novel was Giants in the Earth.

  53. There are many Norwegians as well who use -sen, but of course not all. In Denmark the form is coveted above all others. In fact, some who were born with the -son like to adopt their mother’s surname if she had the -sen form or at the very least put both names or a hyphenated name on their business card.
    But what’s with all those Knutson’s in Norway?

  54. John Emerson says:

    Hamsun was born Knud Pederson, changed his name to Knut Pederson, then to Knut Pederson Hamsund, the Knt Hamsund, and finally Knut Hamsun. “Hamsund” was the name of the family home. The Norse change their names at will.

  55. While Rolvaag wrote in Minnesota, Giants in the Earth was set in Dakota Territory.

  56. Danes are going to have to learn to accept the proper spelling of Norse.
    Mr, Emerson, as an American one quarter Danish by blood and who learned to speak Danish as a second language in Denmark at the age of 17, I will never accept that -sen is not a proper spelling of most Danish surnames. So there!
    (Of course, my own Danish ancestors had surnames like de Place and Nordlien, so this is not entirely relevant to my own situation. I wish I knew how a Danish family or families got the name “de Place.” It’s not exactly Nordic. There was actually a boy at one of the schools I attended with the last name of de Place, and he was not the least bit interested when I told him about the shared surname. That was such a disappointment. It’s not as if it’s a common name over there.)

  57. John, you know it’s really Emersen, don’t you?
    The Norse change their names because they’re Odd.
    Here’s a salad spoon by the Danish designer Bent Falk.

  58. John, you know it’s really Emersen, don’t you?
    The Norse change their names because they’re Odd.
    Here’s a salad spoon by the Danish designer Bent Falk.

  59. There are many Norwegians as well who use -sen, but of course not all. In Denmark the form is coveted above all others. In fact, some who were born with the -son like to adopt their mother’s surname if she had the -sen form or at the very least put both names or a hyphenated name on their business card.
    That’s very interesting and something that I never knew. Is the -sen form so coveted in Denmark because it is a distinctively Danish name form? Or is there some other reason that you know of? I do remember seeing a number of hyphenated surnames. I assume that there are other reasons for hypenating a Danish name besides just wanting to have an -sen on the end of your name? Is there a certain age, educational, or socio-economic demographic that is more likely to intentionally adopt an -sen name? (Sorry about the unending slew of questions. It’s just an interesting topic to me.)

  60. marie-lucie says:

    Danish patronymic-form surnames use the suffix -sen. It seems counter-intuitive to me, as the Danish for “son” is “søn”
    It probably has to do with whether the form is stressed (emphasized) or not. In English, if you say “John’s son”, the word “son” is stressed and sounds the same as in “my son”, but if you say “Johnson”, “John” bears the stress and still sounds the same as in “John” by itself, while the vowel of the “son” part is unstressed and nondescript, if it is heard at all. The same principle applies in Danish, which uses the same traditional naming pattern. So -sen is the unstressed form of son.

  61. marie-lucie says:

    So -sen is the unstressed form of son.
    I mean “of søn“.

  62. salad tongs by Bent Fork?

  63. So -sen is the unstressed form of…”søn”.
    That would make perfect sense. The vowel in -sen is indeed very short and very neutral. I’ve been listening to myself saying some -sen names in Danish and then making myself say them in English. When I pronounce them in my own reasonably standard American English there is no vowel in the final syllable, just a syllabic nasal. When I pronounce them in Danish, there is definitely some sort of brief vowel there.
    Thank you for the explanation.

  64. salad tongs by Bent Fork?
    I do believe that you are intentionally misreading the surname of the designer.
    As for Bent, isn’t that the Danish form of Benedict? The feminine form is Bente. (If I’m wrong, I know I have A.J.P. and Sili to correct me.)
    But if you must insist on making fun of Scandinavian names, then you should know that there is a city on the Danish island of Fyn called Middelfart. You can find it in Wikipedia. (Okay, I’ll admit that my I and my native English speaking friends usually had a hard time taking a ferry to or from Middelfart without giggling a little — and we knew perfectly well what the name meant.)

  65. As for Bent, isn’t that the Danish form of Benedict?
    I didn’t know that. Okay, I’ll try to be serious. No, I won’t.
    The name “Bent” always reminds me of a fine old Boston joke, which unfortunately became obsolete some years ago when the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital merged with another and became Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
    A man hails a taxi, gripping his crotch in pain.
    Man: Get me to a hospital!
    Cabbie: Peter Bent?
    Man: Bent! I think she bit it off!

  66. Sorry about that.
    So Bent is related to the name Bennett or Bennet in English.
    It appears that I passed through Middelfart once almost 30 years ago but was in no position to enjoy its name. With two companions I was trying to go by train from Odense to Aarhus. Absent-minded young academics all, we completely failed to notice that not all the coaches in the train had the same destination. We slept through the uncoupling and wrong turn, which must have occurred just beyond Middelfart, and awoke on the west coast, on the last train in to Esbjerg. A caretaker kindly locked us up for the night in the station so that we could sleep on beautiful old shiny hard wooden benches and wait for the first train out.

  67. Sorry about that.
    Don’t be sorry for my sake. I laughed very loudly over the joke and will share it with my husband once the children aren’t around.
    So Bent is related to the name Bennett or Bennet in English.
    So Bennett is a form of Benedict? I never knew. You learn something new every day, usually several new things a day if you read LanguageHat.
    It appears that I passed through Middelfart once almost 30 years ago but was in no position to enjoy its name. With two companions I was trying to go by train from Odense to Aarhus.
    Yes, that would take you right through Middelfart.
    Absent-minded young academics all, we completely failed to notice that not all the coaches in the train had the same destination. We slept through the uncoupling and wrong turn, which must have occurred just beyond Middelfart, and awoke on the west coast, on the last train in to Esbjerg.
    Now I’m curious how you managed this. Twenty years ago, I made that same passage several times, and I’m pretty sure that they drove the train right into the belly of the ferry. Then we all got out and went up onto the ferry’s upper decks. (Though I could be wrong about this since I took several other ferry passages in different locations.) Did you guys sleep in the train across the water from Fyn to Jylland? You must have been tired. I can certainly understand failing to notice the fact that all the coaches weren’t going to the same destination. It sounds exactly like something I would have done but somehow managed not to do while living there for a whole year. I managed to mis my bus stop by one on my way home from school one time, and I was very lost and it was late November when twilight comes on uncomfortably early. It was not fun trying to find my way back on foot to somewhere I recognized.
    A caretaker kindly locked us up for the night in the station so that we could sleep on beautiful old shiny hard wooden benches and wait for the first train out.
    Erk. That sounds like a whole lot less fun than wandering around Kastrup in the twilight. At least I had a home to get to that night, assuming I could find it. (Of course, if I had been smarter, I would have dispensed with the walking and simply crossed the street to wait for the same bus coming in the opposite direction, ridden it for one stop, and walked home from there.)

  68. So Bennett is a form of Benedict? I never knew.
    Me neither until the other day, when St. Bene’t’s Church was mentioned on Language Log.
    I must have misremembered the details of the train fiasco; anyway, we fell asleep on some train and woke up on the wrong side of Jylland after midnight.

  69. I didn’t know any of that Bent, Bennett, Benedict. Thank you both.
    There’s a Norwegian cosmetics heiress called Celina Midelfart who’s hardly ever off the front page of the magazines at the supermarket checkout. While she was staying in the Hamptons and dating Donald Trump she went under the name of ‘Midelfar’.

  70. I didn’t know any of that Bent, Bennett, Benedict. Thank you both.
    There’s a Norwegian cosmetics heiress called Celina Midelfart who’s hardly ever off the front page of the magazines at the supermarket checkout. While she was staying in the Hamptons and dating Donald Trump she went under the name of ‘Midelfar’.

  71. I can’t say I blame Celina Midelfart. We’ve known a Russian woman who married an American by the name of Sweeney. When she goes back home to visit, she uses her maiden name to avoid having to introduce herself as “Piggy.”
    Things can go the other direction as well. Occasionally my foreign languages interfere with my perception of American place names. After I moved to my current home, I discovered that there was a street that is on the way to a lot of places that I go. It’s named “Tishoff Drive.” Does that give any of the other speakers of Scandinavian languages here a jolt? In Danish ‘at tisse’ means ‘to pee’ and ‘hof’ means ‘court’ (as in a royal court, not a law court. It took me some time to get over my shock every time I saw that street sign.

  72. Oh, I forgot to mention that an older form of Bent is Bendt. That form of the name can be seen in Sankt Bendts Kirke in Ringsted, where Danish royalty were buried until sometime in the 14th century, after which royal burials began to be done in Roskilde Cathedral.
    I have no idea, though, whether the older spelling is ever still used today or only remains in fossilized forms.

  73. There’s also Bengt, which I think is Swedish.
    I’m sure the more languages you speak the more silly associations you’re liable to make if you’re already that way inclined. There’s a brand of car trailer that you see a lot on the main roads here, called ‘Tysse’. Since I’m the only one who associates the letter ‘Y’ with the letter ‘I’, nobody else finds it amusing. And there’s a rural Norwegian county called Toten, which is the plural of ‘dead’ in German. i find that hilarious.

  74. There’s also Bengt, which I think is Swedish.
    I’m sure the more languages you speak the more silly associations you’re liable to make if you’re already that way inclined. There’s a brand of car trailer that you see a lot on the main roads here, called ‘Tysse’. Since I’m the only one who associates the letter ‘Y’ with the letter ‘I’, nobody else finds it amusing. And there’s a rural Norwegian county called Toten, which is the plural of ‘dead’ in German. i find that hilarious.

  75. And let’s not forget Barf detergent.

  76. And this might provide a little competition for Lake Wobegon’s Ahau Sauce. Which reminds me, the bedouin word for rain/snow/winter/storm is شتاء (pronounced shitteh), a word that covers a lot of territory, sort of the opposite of the Eskimo snow meme. The word pretty much sums up the rainy season in English too.

  77. I’m sure the more languages you speak the more silly associations you’re liable to make if you’re already that way inclined. There’s a brand of car trailer that you see a lot on the main roads here, called ‘Tysse’. Since I’m the only one who associates the letter ‘Y’ with the letter ‘I’, nobody else finds it amusing.
    Well, I just gave an almighty jump when I saw the word. (I assume that Norwegian must use ‘at tisse’ like Danish does?) I don’t even have any difficulty hearing or pronouncing the difference between /i/ and /y/ and I still reacted that way. I suppose its what you said: that native English speakers tend to think of ‘i’ and ‘y’ as the same vowel. It is quite amusing.
    And there’s a rural Norwegian county called Toten, which is the plural of ‘dead’ in German. i find that hilarious.
    I can certainly see the humor in it, but it doesn’t hit me at a gut level since I don’t know German.
    The owner of the local eastern grocery store is Persian. In fifteen years, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him carry Barf Detergent. I can’t imagine why not.

  78. Which reminds me of the apocryphal story that the Chevy Nova didn’t sell very well in Spanish-speaking countries. ‘No va’ means ‘It doesn’t go.’
    My dual English/Danish-language mind always found the Citroen amusing. It’s a somewhat odd-looking car whose name announces it as a “lemon.” I don’t know whether “lemon” has any of the same connotations in Danish as it does in English, but I could never get over being amused by it.

  79. marie-lucie says:

    “Ciitroën” is not the name of a particular car (such as “Civic” within the Honda line) but the name of the founder of the (French) company. The name sounds sufficiently different from the French word “citron” meaning ‘lemon’ that most French people don’t think about that meaning. It does mean ‘lemon’ in the language it is from, but in any case the lemon does not (or did not) have the connotations of the English word. (LH had a thread on the name some time ago).

  80. Trond Engen says:

    There is (was?) a freight company based in Raufoss named Toten Transport whose trailers also roam the Autobahn. Similarly, there’s a Finnish cargo company named Närko whose url keeps Danish and Norwegian drivers on safe distance.

  81. “Ciitroën” is not the name of a particular car (such as “Civic” within the Honda line) but the name of the founder of the (French) company.
    I’ve always known that it was a French brand of car, but, for whatever reason, there was only one model of the car that I ever saw in Denmark. (Or perhaps there was more than one model popular there and no one ever bothered to point out any of the other models to me as Citroëns.) This was 20 years ago, and the model in question looked a lot like a Volkswagen Beetle, but with flat sides, thus my description of the car as “odd-looking.”
    The name sounds sufficiently different from the French word “citron” meaning ‘lemon’ that most French people don’t think about that meaning.
    That’s worth knowing. The Danish word for lemon is also “citron,” and native Danish speakers may or may not think that “citron” and “Citroën” sound much alike, but I always thought they did. I guessed that it was unlikely that Danish used the term ‘lemon’ the way that English does. Otherwise I would have expected to to have heard some jokes referring to the brand of car, and I never did. On the other hand, it had never occurred to me that the words might not sound similar enough to a Dane to make a pun on them, but you’ve said that most French people wouldn’t think of it.
    It does mean ‘lemon’ in the language it is from, but in any case the lemon does not (or did not) have the connotations of the English word. (LH had a thread on the name some time ago).
    I only found out the Dutch origin of the name within the last couple of years.
    Thanks for the mention of the previous thread on Citroën, marie-lucie. And thanks for the link to it, Hat. The thread is both an informative and an entertaining read.

  82. marie-lucie says:

    Citroën was known for making one kind of car at a time and keeping the same design for years, meanwhile spending those years preparing the next model, which when it came out it was seen to be very innovative. The car you saw, Isadora, was probably the 2CV (deux-chevaux) which was a cheap, no frills, not too comfortable but very resilient car.

  83. I just looked up pictures of the 2CV, and you’re right – that was the car. A “cheap, no frills, not too comfortable but very resilient car” would be very appealing for Danish automobile owners. I don’t know whether things have changed in 20 years, but cars and gasoline were both taxed at incredible rates (well above 100% if I am remembering correctly what I was told) to discourage their use. Quite a lot of Danish families didn’t own cars in 1990, making use of public transportation or bicycles instead. As to the “not too comfortable” part of it, I remember a Citroën owner or former owner telling me that they weren’t really built quite tight enough for Danish winters.
    Come to think of it, the last family that I stayed with may have owned a 2CV. In any case, their car was certainly about the same size as one. We drove straight from Copenhagen to West Berlin and back within 24 hours. It was really great to get to see Berlin while the wall was in the process of being physically dismantled, but I know that I would have enjoyed the experience much more if it had not involved stuffing seven people into a car that size. The only reason we could fit at all was that the youngest two were 9 and 5 and we took it in turns to hold them on our laps.

  84. I too rode in a Citroën car the winter the Berlin wall came down. It was in France and we too packed a lot of people into it –after a martial arts class. The thing was built like one of those metal Bandaid boxes and you could feel the air coming through all the cracks. I don’t know how we got the door to close, but once we did it was a very bumpy ride, more like a jeep than a VW. It did seem very practical though. I have heard that if they have a flat tire, they are balanced so you can drive them on the three good tires, although it’s hard to imagine how that could possibly work.

  85. The 2CV is as good as a 4×4 on snow (so I’m told), because it’s too light to get stuck.
    Citroen also made the DS, a name which sounds like déesse, or goddess, in French.
    Yesterday I saw one of these on the Norwegian freeway. It was being driven, not by Chief Inspector Maigret, but by a young woman who seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the experience.
    My mother developed a facial expression to imitate the Citroen DS of the 1960s.

  86. The 2CV is as good as a 4×4 on snow (so I’m told), because it’s too light to get stuck.
    Citroen also made the DS, a name which sounds like déesse, or goddess, in French.
    Yesterday I saw one of these on the Norwegian freeway. It was being driven, not by Chief Inspector Maigret, but by a young woman who seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the experience.
    My mother developed a facial expression to imitate the Citroen DS of the 1960s.

  87. marie-lucie says:

    AJP, thank you for the picture: right behind the green DS is the grey 2CV.
    I did not remember that the DS had such a frog-like expression on its face (no pun intended). It did look strange when it came out, and looks even weirder now.
    The “one of these” (la Traction Avant – front-wheel drive) had a very long run, until it was superseded by the DS. I remember them well from my childhood (to look at). Like the Model T Ford, they were all black. The Traction was another workhorse, very reliable, but relatively posh: it was known as a doctor’s car, since all the doctors (who travelled in all weathers to the patients’ homes, including out in the countryside) seemed to have them. This was at a time where relatively few people in France had cars, and trucks were few as well: in our area most farmers who had a vehicle came to town on market day with horse-drawn carriages, and in town garbage was collected by a horse-drawn cart. I never even rode in a car until I was 8 years old, when my father bought a tiny secondhand car (before the advent of the 2CV) that he needed as a school inspector who went to all the rural schools (this car replaced a motorcycle, which was very cold in the winter).

  88. As well as being beautiful, old Citroens had such weirdly innovative design; like the 1-spoke steering wheel and the pneumatic suspension that caused the DS chassis rise up like a hovering flying saucer when you started it. The suspension and foam-rubber cushions made riding in Paris taxis feel like you were inside a wobbling jelly. The only thing that’s as innovative nowadays is an Alfa Romeo.

  89. As well as being beautiful, old Citroens had such weirdly innovative design; like the 1-spoke steering wheel and the pneumatic suspension that caused the DS chassis rise up like a hovering flying saucer when you started it. The suspension and foam-rubber cushions made riding in Paris taxis feel like you were inside a wobbling jelly. The only thing that’s as innovative nowadays is an Alfa Romeo.

  90. I too rode in a Citroën car the winter the Berlin wall came down. It was in France and we too packed a lot of people into it –after a martial arts class. The thing was built like one of those metal Bandaid boxes and you could feel the air coming through all the cracks. I don’t know how we got the door to close
    It’s reminiscent of the games here in America (rather before my time) to see how many people would fit into a VW Bug, the crucial difference being that this was not done as a stunt and involved fitting as many people as possible into a Citroën 2CV and then driving hundreds of miles in it. It freaked me out, because I had been brought up past a certain age to always, always use a seatbelt and had classmates back home whose lives, or at least a hospital stay, had been saved by seatbelts. (The two of them hit ice, followed by a dry spot, causing their VW Rabbit to do a barrel-roll in the air and come to rest on its tires, entirely unscratched, to their great confusion.) So, besides the obvious physical discomfort of having a 5 or 9 year old in my lap for extended periods, I was not okay with having unrestrained children in the car.
    The 2CV is as good as a 4×4 on snow (so I’m told), because it’s too light to get stuck.
    I’m betting you give up this advantage when you put seven people in one of them. We must have been carrying easily half a ton worth of people in it.

  91. David Marjanović says:

    This could be the place to mention Whatcheeria deltae, an early limbed vertebrate (some 340 million years old) from near What Cheer in Iowa.
    Rumor has it it’s also a pun on “watch here”.

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