"Ritmo": linguistic taboo?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Linnets, Jan 1, 2009.

  1. Linnets

    Linnets Senior Member

    I've found on the Net various references to a sort of linguistic taboo against the name of a car build by Fiat in the 70s/80s. This car, called Fiat Ritmo (Italian for "rhythm") was rebranded Fiat Strada (Italian for "road") in English speaking countries (United Kingdom, Canada and the United States) due to this issue: "Ritmo in English speaking countries means menstrual cycle". Is it really true? Is the word ritmo or rhythm really used in colloquial English in this sense?Thanks in advance.
  2. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    I have never heard any such thing. I would assume that the name was changed because ritmo is hard (or at least clumsy) to say in English.
  3. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    You may wish to wait for both female AE opinions, and those of BE speakers. I've never heard ritmo used for anything like that in American English. The word is known here by Spanish speakers, for whom the meaning is the same as in Italian.
  4. Matching Mole

    Matching Mole Senior Member

    England, English
    I agree with GWB and Cuchuflete (from a British perspective). I would say you have been mislead, or if it does refer to menstruation, it's a rather obscure usage. Perhaps it is an "urban myth". I only know the word in respect to titles of dance music tunes.
  5. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    From the Fiat Ritmo Wiki:
    The Ritmo name has subsequently been revived by the Australian Fiat Importer, Ateco Automotive, by badging the New Bravo Fiat Ritmo upon its launch in October 2007.
    I don't think that would have happened if there had been a linguistic taboo.

    Can you give any evidence for the linguistic taboo suggestion?
  6. Linnets

    Linnets Senior Member

    This is a reference from the French language Wikipedia:

    Another story circulating in Italy was about a condom brand called Ritmo or something similar.
  7. MarcB Senior Member

    US English
    I have heard of the rhythm methodof birth control using the English word not the Italian.
  8. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    Here's one North American woman who's never heard the word "Ritmo" let alone heard it to mean menstruation. Is it possible that Wiki's vaunted "editibility" is to blame for this?
  9. Scribblerr

    Scribblerr Senior Member

    Los Angeles
    English US
    Ritmo doesn't refer to menstruation in American English, and here in my area, you see the word used for bands, salsa parties, and restaurants. There is no taboo associated with that word. The "rhythm method" is a natural family-planning method that is used primarily by devout Catholics.

    I can't figure out why they changed the name from Ritmo to Strada, except that Strada is a more elegant and high-end sounding word to the American ear.
  10. cycloneviv

    cycloneviv Senior Member

    Perth, Western Australia
    English - Australia
    Ritmo also has nothing to do with the menstrual cycle in this part of the English-speaking world.
  11. Linnets

    Linnets Senior Member

    Could Ritmo resemble a little too much rhythm method?
  12. Scribblerr

    Scribblerr Senior Member

    Los Angeles
    English US
    Nope. I promise that no native English speaker would make that connection, especially in the context of a car. (They might if a condom brand were called "Ritmo" though, but I'm just speculating). If, but some long shot, the connection were made, there would be no offense taken.

    I believe it is 100% impossible that the disuse of the Ritmo name in the American market had anything to do with a linguistic taboo. I'm certain it was strictly that they thought that Strada sounder sexier and would sell more cars.

    I'd love to see a link to the site that makes this claim, though.

    Edited to add: Ritmo menstrual, often shortened to "ritmo," is apparently the term for one's menstrual period in Spanish. PerhapsFiat changed the name in Spanish-speaking countries for this reason, and then stuck with that name for the English-speaking ones as well?
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2009
  13. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Linnets gave a link in post 6, Scribblerr:)

    Interestingly and tellingly, the English version of the Wiki article makes no such claim...
  14. Scribblerr

    Scribblerr Senior Member

    Los Angeles
    English US
    Thanks, Loob. I am lame.

    ETA: I read that Wiki page and someone should really correct that.
  15. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    See above, post #6.
    If you look around the web you will find claims that the Ritmo had to be renamed for Spain or Brazil - because in those countries Ritmo is a condom manufacturer.
    None of these claims includes any evidence.
  16. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    The Portuguese version of the Wiki article says that the name was changed because "Ritmo" was a brand of sanitary towel/sanitary napkin in the US.

    A number of legends seem to have sprung up about this car:D
  17. Scribblerr

    Scribblerr Senior Member

    Los Angeles
    English US
    It's like a crazy game of "Telephone." You can kind of see how the original story was changed little by little as multiple small errors got made.

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