- November 2nd 2011
Last week, we looked at the origin of some common travel terms. This week we follow it up with a look at the history of some of the most common forms of transport. Before we get to those, let’s look at the origins of the words that make up our company name.
Park, Ride & Fly
It seems that a park was an enclosure for military vehicles all the way back in the late 17th century, and the verb to park meant to put vehicles in such an enclosure. It wasn’t till 1844 that the current meaning of putting a vehicle somewhere appears. Interestingly, parking lots (1924) predate parking tickets (1925 by a single year and the first use of the now ubiquitous park and ride dates from 1966.
Ride has an older history, since it goes back to Old Norse, Old Frisian, Old English and more – no surprise when you consider how long humans have been on horseback. Its link with motorized vehicles dates from 1930. Fly also goes back a long way (at least in the sense of soaring through the air), but the origins of the current sense go back way before planes to the mid-15th century. The related term flight originally referred to flying by balloon and dates back to 1785.
And now to those transport terms we promised. Let’s start with ship. The ancestors of this word are found in the ancestors of English, in languages such as Proto-Germanic as well as Old English. No one is quite sure how it came into being, but originally it was use from small craft with masts. The related term boat may have come from Proto Indo European and there’s a suspicion that both terms originated from the act of hollowing out a tree to make a vessel.
We may think of cars as modern devices, but the Romans were driving cars long before we were (they called them chariots, though). It wasn’t until 1896 that the modern meaning came into use. The modern use of train dates from the 19th century (first published in 1816) with the meaning of a set of wagons pulled by an engine. This comes from the Latin trahere – to pull.
The ticket has also been around for a long time. In the 1520s it meant a sort note or document (from the Old French for label), but it wasn’t till the 1670s that it took on the meaning we know today: a paper that conveys a privilege or right (as in the right to travel). It took until 1930 for the verb to mean an official notification of an infraction and another 17 years for the parking ticket to arrive.
Bus derives from omnibus, a word from 1829 meaning a ‘four wheeled public vehicle with seats for passengers’. And finally, airplane dates from 1907, as does aircraft. It took over from the British aeroplane, which dates from 1873.
We hope you enjoyed that foray through travel linguistic history. Thanks again to the Online Etymology Dictionary by Douglas Harper for the definitions.
- October 26th 2011
I’m a bit of a word nerd, and recently I got to wondering about the etymology of some of our most used travel terms. So I went on the hunt and found a treasure trove in the Online Etymology Dictionary compiled by Douglas Harper from a raft of reputable print sources. Here are some of the things I found out.
Journeys, Voyages and Travels
According to the etymological dictionaries at least, we’ve been journeying long before we voyaged or traveled. The word ‘journey’ goes back to the start of the 13th century with the sense of following a defined course. The 14th century word is descended from Old French, via Latin and had the sense of completing one’s day of work.
‘Voyage’ comes from Old French too, via Latin, and had the sense of provisions for a journey before it attained its modern sense of ‘a trip’. The verb ‘to journey’ dates from the 15th century. ‘Travel’ comes from the late 14th century, a descendant of the 14th century word ‘travailen’ meaning to make a journey. It has much in common with the word ‘travail’ and is thought to have had the sense of going on a difficult journey – all journeys were difficult in the Middle Ages.
Interestingly, although people were going places, it wasn’t until the end of the 16th century that people started talking about their travels (giving the sense of an account of a journey – forerunners of travel blogs). And it would be another three centuries (1885) before we got the ‘traveling salesman’.
Vacations and Holidays
The origins of the word ‘holiday’ pre-date those of ‘vacation’. In Old English, a holiday was a holy day, which was a religious festival and day off work. The current spelling dates from the 1500s, while another variant ‘haliday’, no longer used now, dates from the start of the 13th century. In contrast, ‘vacation’ dates from the late 14th century. It comes from Old French via Latin meaning leisure time, a time when you have no duty to do. Its use for times when normal activity is suspended (like for legal processes and schools) appears to date from the mid 15th century, while its use as a replacement for the word ‘holiday’ – and the term most common here in the US – dates from 1878.
Next time, I’ll look at the origins of some common forms of transport.
- June 23rd 2011
Here’s the first of my favorite travel accessories. It’s a digital luggage scale. These are small, portable scales which allow you to check that your luggage isn’t over the limit. In the past, there’ve been a couple of times when I’ve been traveling and have had to do the ‘take things out of the case and put them in a plastic bag’ thing. I’ve also seen lots of people making tough decisions at the last minute about what to leave. The digital luggage scale solves that problem because you can know what every case weighs before you leave your hotel room. If I’m on a shopping trip, I’ll usually stuff things into cases midway and make a quick check so I know how much more I can buy – and when it’s time to stick to the essentials.
I first came across these when I wrote about Must Have Travel Gadgets a couple of years ago. I bought one soon after and never travel without it. Here’s how the Balanzza scales work:
There are lots of other options for digital luggage scales. Check out this list on Amazon to find one you like.
- June 22nd 2011
Welcome to a new occasional feature on the Taking Off Travel Blog. Like most of you, I’m starting to think about my summer holiday, which this year I’ll be taking Stateside, visiting relatives and catching some sun. But what are the must have travel accessories I’ll be taking with me? That’s what this new feature will be all about.
I’ll tell you what the accessory is, why it’s a must-have for me, outline some of the main features and, if I have one, tell an anecdote about it. The first one is coming up tomorrow.
If you have a favorite travel accessory you’d like to share, I’d be happy to consider a short post on it. Just email me on sharon at parkrideflyusa.com to submit your accessory (with a photo if you have one).
- May 25th 2010
Soultravelers3′s response to my recent post on Memorial Day got me to thinking about something that travelers often experience – celebrating holidays that are important to them while in a country where people don’t even know they exist. Or, even if it’s a common holiday, creating that sense of home that makes the holiday special for you.
Many moons ago, I was spending Christmas in Barcelona, far removed from my usual haunts, with a bunch of people who weren’t going home for the holidays – a couple of Australians, a Canadian girl and me. Rather than stay in France and mope, we’d decided to do something different and head to Spain to experience the holiday there. We bought some small gifts (we were poor students), a couple bottles of wine, some chocolates, a mini Christmas tree and some tinsel to decorate our room. Before we settled in for the holiday, we walked around the city, which was blanketed in white (my first white Christmas) and absorbed the beauty and the atmosphere. Then we went back and talked about how we celebrated the holiday in our own homes. It didn’t make us less homesick, but it felt good to share. Read more »