02 November 2015

Car Booth Sale

Here is an extract from an article on page 2 of Media Permata of 2 November 2015, about activities to be held in Tutong District:

Manakala pada 6 hingga 8 November pula akan diadakan Car Booth Sale bertempat di Taman Rekreasi Sungai Basong. [italics in the original]
which might be translated as:
Meanwhile from 6 till 8 November a Car Boot Sale will be held at Sungai Bason Recreational Park.

'Car Booth Sale'? This reflect two aspects of pronunciation: in Brunei English, there is often no distinction between /θ/ and /t/, so speakers are uncertain about the sound at the end of 'boot' and 'booth'; and voiceless TH at the end of a word is pronounced as [t] rather than the [f] that would be expected in Singapore, which reflects the fact that Brunei English is distinct from other varieties of English in the region.

One might also note that this is a kind of folk etymology, where language users re-interpret words to make more sense to them. Bruneians don't use 'boot' for the back of a car, and Brunei Malay uses the word bonet. (I have no idea why people got the wrong end of the car for this term.) Given that 'car boot sale' doesn't make much sense to people who do not use the word 'boot' for the back of a car (the 'trunk' for Americans), 'booth' seems logical to refer to a small stall to sell second-hand goods.

This reinterpretation of a word is also termed an 'eggcorn', after someone who mistakenly used the word 'eggcorn' in place of 'acorn'. (See Wikipedia article.) Some other eggcorns in English are:

  • 'wet the appetite' instead of 'whet the appetite'
  • 'ex-patriot' instead of 'expatriate'
  • 'mating name' instead of 'maiden name'