Vernacular Spectacular #21: “bumper cars” vs. “dodgem cars”

This is one of the most back-and-forth ones we’ve had so far. Three issues:

1. Bumper is a splendid world. Say it five times out loud. You’re smiling at the end, aren’t you? At least I hope so, because if not, you are dead inside.

2. Even so, dodgem cars is probably better-sounding phrase. Nothing against bumper cars, except part of the beauty of bumper is what a taut two syllables it is. But dodgem cars has spunk and snap: fits great for an old-time attraction that’s still good for a kick at a carnival.

3. At a literal level, dodgem cars is completely wrong: the point isn’t to dodge the other cards, it’s to ram into them with glee. If you’ve spent five minutes in dodgem cars and haven’t had a collision, it’s not because you’re a great driver, it’s because you are being shunned. Bumper cars get the point of the activity spot-on.

Jeremy’s winner: dodgem cars (upset! its snappiness conquers all, even if literally the phrase doesn’t champion feistiness so much as running away)

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