The language of petrolhead
Txt spk. It is now the second language of a generation. In fact, it is probably the first language of many people. I tried to introduce this blog post by writing an entire paragraph in text, but I couldn’t get any further than the words txt and spk. And to be honest, I’m a little bit proud of that.
The thing is, petrolheads have a language of their own and they’ve been speaking it for years. Like an underground cult or hidden code, petrolheads communicate in a way that is alien to the outside world.
Let me explain.
In Cornwall, there’s a sign that simply reads IMPRACTICABLE FOR CARS. When you see the road in question, you can understand why. The first puddle would probably write off a Vauxhall Zafira or magnolia Kia Magentis. But in petrolhead speak, the sign loosely translates as ‘Find a V8 Defender quickly and return here for maximum fun’. Loosely.
We’re all familiar with the THINK BIKE road sign. Now clearly, there’s a serious message associated with the sign. But to many a biker, or indeed driver, this is like a neon sign saying ‘Excellent biking road’. It effectively means that the road in question is the equivalent of biking nirvana. The Little Chef restaurant chain knows this, which is why you’ll find one of their outlets along the route.
Then there’s the obligatory DOUBLE BENDS sign. In petrolhead speak this roughly translates as ‘change down to third, start thinking about the exit line and enjoy’. It does. Honestly.
It isn’t confined to road signs either. Oh no, petrolhead speak works in silence too. You will often see petrolheads stood huddled around an engine bay, bonnet propped open, engine running. Each person in the huddle will be stood, gently swaying, hands in pocket with shoulders raised. To the owner of the car, words are not required – he knows they approve of his motor.
Then there’s the petrolhead NOD OF APPROVAL. You’ll be filling your chariot up with Vin de V-Power when an M3 E30, Cayman S, Clio Williams or MK1 Golf swings on to the forecourt. A quick glance at each other’s motor is followed by a subtle bringing together of the lips and slight nod of the head. This is mutual appreciation. No words are required.
Like many languages, petrolhead speak has a number of dialects, making it difficult for the outside world to make sense of what is being said. Petrolblog couldn’t even dream of fitting them all into this tiny corner of the interweb. But the words Scooby, Rado, Dub, Cossie, FRP, Teg and Pug are just a few examples that spring to mind.
So next time you curse the rise of text speak, remember this. We’ve been doing it for years.
With thanks to D Letcher for the Cornish image.
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