Alfa Romeo Toe-Nail? The Italian SUV is the latest in a long line of car names that are too easy to mistake


Remember when Porsche cooked us Taycan issue and actually created a video that explains how to pronounce the name of the new EV?

I was reminded of this the other day when Alfa Romeo was released its a new little SUV, and it became clear that the unfriendly types referred to it on social media as “toenails”. They certainly just had fun at the expense of Alpha, but isn’t it likely that many people don’t know how to pronounce it? While Europeans mostly call two-door cars Koop-hays, Americans have called the same Koops for decades. So would Toe-Nail be less likely than Tonale in relation to an ordinary guy from the street?

Grew up in the UK, but with an amazing admiration for American tin in the pre-internet era I plunged into the world of cars with surprisingly complex foreign names. You almost never heard anyone call their names on British television, so I just had to write copies Motor trend, Car and driver and Road and trackplus a few books and I don’t even remember seeing any phonetic spells to help me.

Alfa Romeo Tonale

It took me years to figure out what I was saying wrong, either because I didn’t know how to pronounce them, or because I imagined how to pronounce them, but couldn’t imagine some American farmer who never left the county wearing the perfect French accent to order your new Buick sedan. I wondered if Detroit could create its own way of pronouncing these words in the Kupa / Kupaja channel.

Among the cars that connected me to the language hubs were the Buick LeSabre (Luh-Saybuh? Luh-Sabberr? Luh-Sabbray?), The Cadillac Brougham (Bruff-am? Broom?), Chevrolet Camaro (Kamm-a-row? Samm-a-row? Kamm-are-row?) And Buick Reatta (Ree-tah? Ray-tah?).

And then there was the Mercury Grand Marquis, Plymouth Belvedere, Ford LTD and Merkur, Ford’s 1980s attempt to confront BMW. In school I struggled with all of them, but come to think of it, if I was less interested in Detroit junk cars, I would have far fewer problems.

Read: What is the worst car name of all time?

But it wasn’t just American cars. For years, I’ve been convinced that the Porsche icon with a rear engine is the Nine-One-One, and if even Porsche itself correctly calls the 968 Nine-Six-Eight, why not? A 12-year-old I didn’t know that Julia of Alpha was actually Julia, not Gwelia, or where to start when I saw Delage of the 1930s mentioned in some classic car magazine.

And it didn’t end until I graduated. When I was about 20 when I worked at Autocar, I referred to Lancia Thema’s conversation by pronouncing “y” as you would Thelma and Louise. At this point the car was out of production for almost ten years, so I even saw that name written down.

But a chic colleague whose parents sent him to a chic paid British school where you have to dress like Harry Potter told me that the correct pronunciation was “Time-ah” because there is no Thelma sound in Latin. Look, this is what your $ 30,000 a year buys you, parents. The ability to look smart when talking about 20-year-old Italian sedans for $ 500.

Ferrari “Purosangue”. Go hit

Nowadays, with easily accessible video content, fans can share their knowledge with each other, and manufacturers have their own social media accounts that help pass on information about their new cars. Going further, useful people at Aston Martin Palm Beach there is an online guide that tells how to pronounce not only each of the models of the brand, but also the name of the brand. Even I have never had a problem with this, but obviously some people have.

This way, shoppers are less likely to get confused, and less likely to be laughed at from the bar if you open your mouth and make a mistake in front of someone better than yourself. Chances are less, but no chance.

With such machines Purosangue SUV from Ferrari (which Maranella tells me is pronounced Pure-oh-sang-gway), the new Veloqx Fangio (Vee-locks Fange-ee-oh if you were interested) and the Aston Marton Valkyrie (I think Val-kee-ree says Aston Palm Beach) in the news, as well as the inevitable invasion of Chinese cars with badges that I can barely write, not to mention the pronunciation, car manufacturers seem to be doubling their ability to support us.

And some of us can’t and don’t want to be stumbled upon. Being British, and still northern, I will still stay saying Lan-see-yahPorsche, Purj-o, Bev-gati and Mazuh-ratt-eee there aren’t a few videos on YouTube that I watch that tell me I’m very wrong.

What names of cars let you down? Leave a comment and let us know.

Alfa Romeo Toe-Nail? The Italian SUV is the latest in a long line of car names that are too easy to mistake

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