Oh dear

A British car manufacturer banking on the future of hydrogen cars aims to raise £150m over the next three years. Riversimple – the brainchild of entrepreneur Hugo Spowers – has developed a two-seater hydrogen fuel cell car named the Rasa, Latin for “clean slate”. The car is aimed at city dwellers and boasts a top speed of 60mph.

Hands up who wants to give £150 million to the man who didn’t check the dictionary? You know, one of those brown M&M moments.

Clean slate is tabula rasa, rasa thus, presumably, meaning slate.

27 thoughts on “Oh dear”

  1. Tabula rasa, in latin, doesn’t mean clean slate. Only in english.

    Okay. Literally it means “scraped tablet”. Which as the slate tablets were coated in wax so they could be re-used, is “clean slate”, for subsequent use, hence “blank slate”.

    This doesn’t mean that the colloquial use of “blank slate” is far different from a Latin colloquial use of “tabula rasa”.

  2. @SE: Naming a car “scraped” is even dafter. I presume the next two models will be “pranged” and “total write off”.

  3. @SE
    Tabula can be translated as ‘wring board’. So tabula rasa would be a slate to use as a writing board. Maybe the concept ‘tabula rasa’ meant clean slate to someone spoke latin. You’d have to be a latin speaker to know.
    It’s a problem with all languages. A series of words may convey a concept. But you can’t necessarily translate those words over into another language & retain the concept. My ex wife would accuse me of coming in in my big shoes. I know what that means in french. I’m damned if I can think of an equivalent phrase in english gives the same concept. Certainly nothing containing either shoes or big. “to walk all over someone” is close.
    Or try translating the yiddish verb ‘kvetching’ into english.

  4. I’d be cagey about investing in a high-tech company based in Llandrindod Wells. Must be tough to recruit skilled workers, especially for something so speculative. Would you take on a mortgage knowing that the only employer (for your skills) within an hour’s drive might not exist in five years?

  5. Bollocks to the language pendants.

    The idea is fucking stupid. Calling the car “Slate” would be a good fore-shadowing to any mug investors of the future “Slating” they would like to give Hugo –if they could only find him.

  6. The advantage of hydrogen as a fuel is that it can be synthesized from water using electrolysis. The disadvantages are pretty much everything else.

  7. It’d be better as a name for a line of gentlemen’s grooming products, wouldn’t it?

    Although the name would work well for a car in Germany. In fact, with a slightly amended pronounciation in England as well.

  8. Andrew M,

    “I’d be cagey about investing in a high-tech company based in Llandrindod Wells. Must be tough to recruit skilled workers, especially for something so speculative. Would you take on a mortgage knowing that the only employer (for your skills) within an hour’s drive might not exist in five years?”

    The flip side is that you can buy flats for £40K in Llandrindod Wells. £4K deposit and £350/month for a 10 year mortgage. If it folds in 5, you’ll have spent less than rent in many places and have some equity.

    The other problem is that if you’re a young man, these places tend to be rammed with old people and chavs.

  9. “Maybe the concept ‘tabula rasa’ meant clean slate to someone spoke latin. You’d have to be a latin speaker to know.”

    That’s wrong, BiS. Crudely, meaning is use – i.e. meaning is context-dependent and governed by discernible social conventions. We know how ‘tabula rasa’ is used in Latin, and we have countless examples of the phrase’s use in a wide variety of written contexts. The meaning of a Latin phrase is not something private to Latin speakers.

    “It’s a problem with all languages. A series of words may convey a concept. But you can’t necessarily translate those words over into another language & retain the concept.”

    There’s some indeterminacy in translating from one language to another; but it’s much less for a living language than a dead one because we have behavioural clues as well as social use and context. Certainly, some colloquialisms are hard to translate, and some languages are more conceptually refined in some respects (e.g. Inuit with types of snow; ancient Greek has no word for redness of hair; some Germans claim to identify numerous gradations of existence or being…etc).

    However, that doesn’t mean that scepticism about the meaning of “tabula rasa” is justified, because it isn’t.

  10. Few days ago waiting for a bus a car had to swerve to avoid a bike and almost hit a bus, as it pulled away I saw it had hydrogen vehicle trial on the side of the car, decided in the future i might stand a bit further back from the kerb if that’s driving around downtown in rush hour

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