Date: Sat, 10 Dec 1994 00:32:27 CST


Subject: Re: boot and bonnet

I've always sort of wondered about the origin of 'bonnet' and 'boot'.

I can conjure up a connection between the panels on the sides of a 1930s

hood that, when raised up, remind one of the flaps on the sides of

women's bonnets. But I'm familiar only with bonnets as worn in America and

don't know whether headgear in England was similar in the early part of

this century. We had a 1930 Dodge whose trunk was like a piece of luggage

(trunk) attached to the back of the body, so I understand the American term,

but can't conjure up a visual connection with 'boot'.

American 'fender' and British 'wing' both pose nice puzzles for me. I can

understand how young people would have an even harder time making these terms

mean what they mean.

A couple of British motoring terms I like are 'layby' for a pull-off beside

the road (has a nice ring) and 'flyover' for an overpass. When I see an

overpass that curves up, around, over, and down as it crosses a limited-

access road (with a dual carriageway, of course) I want to call the structure

a flyover rather than an overpass, and I do say the word sometimes.

And I like 'dual carriageway' much better than 'dual lane', because the

British term doesn't seem to limit the width as much as the American term does.

All this in the name of objective study of linguistic forms.