driving on the right (left) side of the road / driving on the (right-) left-hand seat

Messquito

Senior Member
Chinese - Taiwan 中文 Taiwanese Hokkien 臺語
I wonder how people talk about driving on the left/right in different languages and how you would distinguish between "driving on the right/left side of the road" and driving on the right/left-hand seat"

Recently I have had some confusion with the phrase "driving on the left/right". I couldn't decide if it meant the traffic or the seating. A quick browsing brought me to the conclusion that "driving on the left/right" means "driving on the left/right side of the road" rather than "driving on the left/right seat". (correct me if I am wrong)

So, in Chinese there are:
左/右駕 (left/right driving), which denotes seating.
左/右行 (left/right going), which denotes traffic.

There is no confusion around 左/右行, but up until recently I've thought of 左/右駕 as ambiguous whose meaning should be clear only from the context, but on the internet people seem to use it quite accurately to mean seating only, so maybe it's just me.
 
  • Yendred

    Senior Member
    Français - France
    In France, we say:
    Nous conduisons à droite, et par conséquent, dans les voitures immatriculées en France, le volant est à gauche.
    :arrow: We drive on the right (side of the road), and consequently, in cars registered in France, the steering wheel is on the left.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I wonder how people talk about driving on the left/right in different languages and how you would distinguish between "driving on the right/left side of the road" and driving on the right/left-hand seat"
    Russian doesn't use the verb "to drive" (вести - vestí, водить - vodit'; literally "to lead", the difference is of aspectual sort) nearly as abundantly as English does, so the problem hardly can arise.
    For driving on some particular side of the road, you use the verbs ехать (yékhat') and ездить (yézdit'), which mean to ride or to move with use of some vehicle, cf. Germ. fahren with similar usage (it doesn't actually imply driving anything). For the side of the road you will normally use preposition "po" (+dat.), which roughly means "along". As for the driving on some particular seat, it's more natural just to specify what is the driver's side of the car. In Russian you normally do it by specifying the position of the steering wheel - руль (rúl'). A car may be either леворульный (levorúl'nyi - "left-wheeled") or праворульный (pravorúl'nyi - "right-wheeled"). Of course, you can always just specify where you were sitting in the car, as long as it's obvious you were the driver: слева (sléva - "from the left") or справа (správa - "from the right").
     

    apmoy70

    Senior Member
    Greek
    Greek:

    -«Οδηγώ/-ούμε δεξιά» [ɔ.ðiˈɣɔ ðe.k͜siˈa] --> to drive [sing.] (on the) right, [ɔ.ðiˈɣu.me ðe.k͜siˈa] --> to drive [pl.] (on the) right
    1a-«Το τιμόνι αριστερά» [tɔ tiˈmɔ.ni a.ɾis.teˈɾa] --> the steering wheel (is on the) left or
    1b-«Το βολάν αριστερά» [tɔ vɔˈlan a.ɾis.teˈɾa] --> the steering wheel (is on the) left

    The v. is «οδηγώ» [ɔ.ðiˈɣɔ] --> to drive (when the subject is one person), «οδηγούμε» [ɔ.ðiˈɣu.me] & «οδηγάμε» [ɔ.ðiˈɣa.me] (colloq.) --> to drive (when the subjects are multiple persons i.e. when referring to the side of the road we drive in the country) < Classical v. «ὁδηγέω/ὁδηγῶ» hŏdēgéō (uncontracted)/hŏdēgô (contracted) --> to lead, to go upon one's way, guide (when the subject is one person), «ὁδηγέομεν/ὁδηγοῦμεν» hŏdēgéŏmĕn (uncontracted)/hŏdēgoûmen (contracted) --> idem (when the subjects are more than one) < Classical fem. noun «ὁδός» hŏdós + Classical v. «ἄγω» ắgō.
    «Τιμόνι» [tiˈmɔ.ni] (neut.) --> steering wheel < It. timone
    «Βολάν» [vɔˈlan] (neut.) --> steering wheel < Fr. volant.
    «Τιμόνι» prevails by far in the vernacular and I'd guess it's older than «βολάν» since it's fully declinable according to the grammar rules of Standard MoGr: «Τιμονιού» [ti.mɔˈɲu] (gen. sing.), «τιμόνια» [tiˈmɔ.ɲa] (nom. pl.), «τιμονιών» [ti.mɔˈɲɔn] (gen. pl.) etc while the latter is indeclinable («του βολάν» [tu vɔˈlan] (gen. sing.), «τα βολάν» [ta vɔˈlan] (nom. pl.) etc).
     

    kaverison

    Member
    Tamil, English - US
    It is these type of expressions that really test a language for the modern times. Though you can say this in Tamil, it is harder to use in speech.

    In Tamil, People normally say, (colloquially)

    லெப்ட்ல ஓட்டு - left-la Ottu = drive on the left
    ரைட்ல ஓட்டு - right-la Ottu - drive on the right

    But literally,
    இடது பக்கத்தில ஓட்டு - idathu pakkaththil Ottu =Drive on left side (of the road)
    வலது பக்கத்தில ஓட்டு - valathu pakkathil Ottu = Drive on right side

    You may hear the Tanglish/Tamingilam (Tamil English mixed) words more often, as it's easier to say it, even from a common man, that never read English.

    இடது கை = Left Hand
    வலது கை = Right Hand

    ஓடு - Odu - run/go
    ஓட்டு - Ottu = to send something on its way (I see this is similar to what Russian does)
    மாடு ஓட்டு - maadu Ottu = Cow/Cattle Herding
    வண்டி ஓட்டு - vandi Ottu = Drive/send a vehicle on its way
    பேய் ஓட்டு - pEy Ottu = To drive away demons possessing someone

    Colloquially,
    லெப்ட் சீட்டு - left sIttu - Left Hand side Seat
    ரைட்டு சீட்டு - right sIttu - Right Hand side Seat

    And in writing, (as we write more formally):
    இடது பக்க இருக்கை - idathu pakka irukkai - Left Side seat
    வலது பக்க இருக்கை - valathu pakka irukkai - Right side seat


    To give you a background, in India we drive on the left side of the road, with driver seat on the right side of the car. (While growing up, I remember seeing the sign "Left Hand Driving" on cars to mean seat on the left.) It is always challenging going from the US, where we drive on the right, but sit on the left.
     
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    Yendred

    Senior Member
    Français - France
    It is always challenging going from the US, where we drive on the right, but sit on the left.
    As a French who drives in a right driving country, thus with the driving seat on the left, I always thought it was challenging to drive in a car with the driving seat on the right, because of the gear lever on the left hand, which seems not so convenient when most people are right-hand. What do you think?
     

    Armas

    Senior Member
    Finnish
    In Finnish we say that the steering wheel is on the left/right (side) "ratti on vasemmalla/oikealla (puolella)" and we drive on the right/left side of the road "ajaa tien oikealla/vasemmalla puolella". Another way of saying the latter is oikeanpuoleinen liikenne, which literally means "right-sided traffic".
     

    kaverison

    Member
    Tamil, English - US
    As a French who drives in a right driving country, ...
    Sorry for the slight detour there. If I can be excused one more time, @Yendred - I agree, but for me the biggest problem is either I am constantly applying (imaginary) brakes being in Passenger seat on the left or if I am driving in the seat on the right, I constantly drive into curb on the left, as my idea of car body ends along my left shoulder!
     
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    L'irlandais

    Senior Member
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    As a French who drives in a right driving country, thus with the driving seat on the left, I always thought it was challenging to drive in a car with the driving seat on the right, because of the gear lever on the left hand, which seems not so convenient when most people are right-hand. What do you think?
    Not really, since it can be seen as keeping my right hand on the steering wheel, while my left hand deals with à secondary task. Driving on the left hand side of the road, is the natural way. Continentals are under the misconception that their way is the right way. Why do the British (and the Japanese) drive on the left?
    Napoleon who was left-handed, preferred the new “rebellious” system of driving on the right.
    If you consider for a moment, the fact that Bonapart didn’t even have a driving license; illogical that he should be the one to determine which side of the road modern society drive on.
    Today driving on the left, is only practised in 74 countries, including: Australia, India, United Kingdom, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, South Africa, New Zealand and a few others. Driving on the right is practised in 166 countries.
    Or as Bertrand Russell said « Even if all the experts agree, they may well be mistaken. »

    Mass production and the laws of a nation don’t take left handed people, 10% of the population, into account. French cars though are manufactured for (left handed people) if you folow Napoleon’s logic to the limit. He is keeping his dominant hand on the wheel.
     
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    Doraemon-

    Senior Member
    "Spanish - Spain" "Catalan - Valencia"
    It is said on which side on the road the car is going (or on which side of the sidewalk you're walking).
    It doesn't matter that the driver is on the right or on the left inside the car. If you drive in UK you'll drive on the left, and if you drive in France you'll drive on the right, no matter if you have an English or a German car, with the steering wheel on one side or another.
    In English, French, Spanish... you can say that you drive on a car with a steering wheel on the right/left, but that's completely different to on which side on the road people drive, there's no possible confusion.
     
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