[TR] A rose by any other name? (A bit of Standard Triumph history for them wots interested)

Joe Burlein floridatr6 at cfl.rr.com
Fri Jan 2 09:55:20 MST 2015

Sounds like you may have enough for another book!

Sent from my iPad

> On Jan 2, 2015, at 9:44, "John Macartney" <john.macartney at ukpips.org.uk> wrote:
> Hi, List
> Over the Christmas and New Year break, Liz and I have been busy going
> through our possessions. We're 'downsizing' home-wise and too much of the
> stuff "that'll come in useful one day" has had to be reviewed. As you can
> imagine, as someone who spent a lifetime in the UK auto industry, I've
> managed to accumulate quite a lot of "come in useful one day" items. Dec 26
> saw me making a start on evaluating several thousand 35mm colour slides of
> vacations in Europe in Standard cars (Vanguards and a Standard Ten Companion
> - aka Triumph Ten Wagon) when they were new and I've kept back too many
> cherished pix to be later scanned to a hard disk. It's only sentiment as I
> just can't bring myself to throw them out.
> I then got into some of Dad's many internal reports from Canley days dating
> from the mid-fifties and early sixties - before Leyland appeared in Coventry
> - and there are two little aspects I've uncovered this far that I thought
> might entertain you?
> The first one relates to the hieroglyphics (my spelling?) on instrument
> panel controls. Standard Triumph was probably the first UK manufacturer to
> adopt them on the 1200 Herald / TR4 and this was not without its problems
> back in the day. Up until then, car users had long become accustomed to
> words on a knob to describe its function while today, several generations
> have grown up intuitively knowing what a symbol means. For example, the
> image of a heater matrix radiating warm air was perceived to be something to
> do with a set of false teeth (!!!!) while the symbol of a throttle butterfly
> in a venturi for the choke completely foxed the majority. It was a series of
> reports about these hieroglyphs and overseas markets that I found most
> entertaining but that's worth another story when I've read the rest of the
> reports. It seems the French and the Italians were greatly against English
> words on control knobs and argued with some rationale that they should
> reflect the local languages. They argued that if you could build a car with
> varying national specs (laminated windscreens, different wiring looms to
> meet local requirements and laws, LH steering, kilometre speedos et al) then
> local wording on knobs shouldn't be a problem.
> The French argued and won for 'Eclairage' for lights, 'Chauffage' for
> heating (where the false teeth symbol would later appear), 'Essuies' for
> wipers, 'Dist d'Air' for the heater directional air control etc. All well
> and good. Somehow, a budding linguist in Engineering failed to fully
> research his dictionary for 'Choke' and probably tried to in-build the term
> 'strangler' into his deliberations. He could have used 'Melange' which was
> the pre-WW2 term for 'mixture' or its then more modern and current
> equivalent of 'Starter'. Note, this does not mean the engine start button on
> sidescreen TR's or the twist switch on the ignition. Instead, the translator
> made a noun out of the French verb to "choke on a piece of food" which is
> 'Etouffer' and modded it to 'Etouffeur.' Shrieks of laughter from French who
> always love to mock the Brits and claimed this term *could* also be
> interpreted into a person who chokes people to death. So all this
> precipitated a mad rush for revised knobs in the correct terminology to fit
> to cars in dealer stocks before they could be sold!!!!!
> However, things didn't stop there. A few weeks later, the words for 'wipers'
> in Italian was found to have been translated into a slang expression of a
> particular local Italian dialect which common decency prevents me from
> clarifying any further and I leave that to your imaginations. Suffice it to
> say it is associated with Restrooms / Toilets :)
> I suppose all these little issues are probably par for the course but my
> amusement at these 'faux pas' was greatly heightened when I read that the
> company making these various knobs had contracted with the factory for an
> initial stock of 50,000 items of each in four different languages and there
> was no way they were willing to scrub round the mistake or absorb the cost
> for changing the tooling for revised wording.
> So when you operate the knobs on your Herald, Vitesse, Spitfire which all
> have the images on them, spare a thought for what happened to the words. I'm
> currently reading the reports between Engineering, Quality Control,
> Purchasing and Final Inspection on the tacit issues of the problems
> encountered with all the hieroglyphs on the very early knobs which kept
> falling out because the insert was a tad too large for the hole and the glue
> to hold them in place didn't last. More anon
> Jonmac
> (aka John Macartney)
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