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Words don't come easy

Automotive English-English dictionary

17/11/2013 09:40 | Comments: 


Former car restorer, damper designer, rotary-engine guru and also an automotive engineer, but generally doesn’t talk much about his former activities. András is our mag’s Leatherman tool: when there’s a project no-one would poke with a stick, he’s the one usually assigned to carry it through. When he’s in Hungary, he works 16 hours daily, then every once in a while he disappears from the horizon. Last time he’s been seen in Auckland… Has a huge garage, lives with a girlfriend.

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This is the root of all the tension between the British and the American. One page of car talk in form of a glossary.

I wonder how much time this gentleman, Terry Davey spent making all these cutaway drawings. You know, on the covers of the all-famous Haynes repair manuals there is always a picture of the car where you can see some details of the internal parts. Those were all hand-drawn by Terry, which is an incredible job that must have taken days for each one. Sometimes I catch myself in the workshop, staring at the drawing for minutes. I freakin’ admire his work.  

I’m in love with these books. They contain invaluable information, even for an experienced mechanic. I’ve repaired quite    a few cars in the past twenty years, but I’ve kept the habit to obtain one of those manuals before starting some serious work. Each and every car has some special details and I like to be prepared for the job I want to do.  

I grabbed this book this morning, because the other day we had a little discussion on our internal mailing list. Someone had written boot and hood in one sentence in an article, which is unacceptable. We swiftly corrected that mistake, because we’re trying to stick to British English expressions, but I couldn’t help having an immediate association. My second favourite page of this Haynes manual came to my mind.  

When I first read it, I had to laugh out loud. I have the impression that nowadays all those expressions are mixed up a bit, because English and American readers and writers face all of them on the internet every day. I don’t think that any British lad will get confused if he reads antenna instead of aerial or windshield instead of windscreen, but there you go, here’s the list.  

My favourite ones are header, which is of course an exhaust manifold, and rod bearing, that should be referred to as big-end bearing. Just browse through it if you are uncertain whether valve cover is American or British. Oh, and you’ll also find that hood is a valid British expression, only that it means soft top. Ok with that?  

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