Chad Bryan, Gleaner Writer
It was the English poet and playwright William Shakespeare who spoke so rhapsodically through the characters of Romeo and Juliet in the play of the same name, when Juliet asked, "What's in a name?
That which we call a rose by any other name still smells as sweet". However, as a definitive distinguishing characteristic, the name of a motor vehicle is not meant to be interchangeable with any other make or model. And coming up with the name for a new car is an intricate affair which seems to be often connected to nature, as a probe into a few newer-model cars shows.
Nissan's Tiida, which comes in sedan and hatchback forms, has its origins in the English word tide, referring to the ebb and flow of the ocean. In Okinawan, a language spoken on Japan's southernmost island Okinawa, it means 'the sun'. The Murano is a well-known SUV, but also has its roots in Venice, Italy, a city known for hand-blown glass production. Another SUV, the Qashqai, derives its name from Turkish-speaking nomads who settled in Iran during the Middle Ages, having been the only tribe to defeat the conqueror Tamerlane. Skilled rug-makers, their name 'kashka' means either a 'horse with a white star atop its forehead' or 'fugitive'. Designers chose this name as they believed the car's typical buyers would be itinerant in nature.
Volkswagen, the German manufacturer, has many car names related to climate patterns, insects (remember the Beetle?) and small mammals. The Amarok pickup truck takes its name from the Inuit language in which it means 'arctic wolves', which are considered by the Eskimos of Northern Canada and Greenland to be the kings of the wild. The vehicle was given the name because of its power, endurance and robust. In Romanic languages 'amorak' means 'he loves stones', which explains the vehicle's ability to move on any terrain. The Tiguan (pronounced TEE-gwan) SUV gets its name from a combination of the German words for tiger and iguana.
The team at Range Rover took the French verb 'voquer', which means 'to call to mind, to evoke and to reference', and adjusted it to apply to their popular, stylish Evoque.
Toyota's Prius sedan gets its name from the Latin word meaning 'to go before' or 'before its predecessors'. The name was chosen because the company considered this vehicle the predecessor of car-model designs in the future. The Camry and Corolla sedans both have the same meaning in their names; Camry is slightly different in Japanese, kanmuri, and means 'crown'. In Latin, corolla also means crown. An older, upscale Toyota sedan was named the Crown.
Yaris, another Toyota sedan, is a combination of the name of a Greek goddess in mythology called Charis and the German expression of agreement, 'ya'. On the SUV side, the Prado was built for quality, durability and reliability in the harshest of environments, and the name means 'meadow' in Spanish.
On the other hand, the Prado's competitor, the Mitsubishi Pajero, takes its name from an animal which prowls the grass. There is a feline scientifically referred to as Oncifelis colocolo which, in Spanish, is known as the 'gato pajero' ('grass cat') or 'gato de las pampas' (pampas cat). It is similar in nature to the ocelot, which hunts small animals. There are various subspecies of the animal and in central Argentina it is the Oncifelis colocolo pajeros. The Japanese shortened the name, calling it felis pajeros. The original Prado had the pampas cat as its logo.
While many of Honda's names tend to be straightforward and in English, among them the Civic and Accord, the CR-V abbreviation for its popular SUV may take some figuring out. While many people have guessed it to mean Cross Road Vehicle, Crossover Recreational Vehicle, Car-like Recreational Vehicle, even Cute Recreational Vehicle, the official Honda Japanese fact book has says it means Comfort Runaround Vehicle. British literature has labelled it Compact Recreational Vehicle.
- Information gathered from various websites and interviews with local dealers.