Friday, September 17, 2010

Hooray for BuBi!

A name's been chosen for Budapest's new bike-sharing system: BuBi.

The name, pronounced the same as the English slang for a woman's breast (booby), was chosen from among 3,727 email submissions in a contest arranged by the system's designated operator, Parking kft.

As explained in the kerekagy blog, a shortlist of five names was picked by a seven-member jury and these were put to an Internet vote. "BuBi" won the most votes (9,632) followed by "bico" (9,515), "kerékbár" (7,351), "cimbike" (6,051), "bérbi" (5,854).

I'd done an earlier post about the name-giving contest, and I spent quite some time sifting through the enormous Excel sheet of submissions trying to spot names worth remarking on. From among all those names, BuBi stood out -- at least to me -- as one of the more humorous suggestions. I also quite liked "Hop on Me" and "BooDbike". Funny suggestions -- on par with the bad English translations you find in Chinese Restaurant menus sometimes.

Of course, to Hungarian ears, "BuBi" doesn't sound ridiculous. One of my Hungarian colleagues said it sounded "cute," reminding her of the slang for bubbly: "bubis" which is short for "buborékos". Another co-worker said that the word bubi was used back in the 60s-70s to denote the beehive hairdo.

A reader of my first column seemed quite annoyed at my Anglophone take on things. He (or she -- it was an anonymous comment) made the point that I had no right to argue for a "meaningless English name" and then concluded: "Cycling is LOCAL! Therefore the bike sharing system should have a HUNGARIAN name!"

All that is fair enough, of course. But please also respect my need -- as a native of the English-speaking world -- to snicker at the utterance of "BuBi". It may be ethnocentric and juvenile of me but, in my defense, I relate the following: a few years back, my wife went to the local consulate of the country known internationally, since 1984, as Burkina Faso. And when she asked about visa requirements to the country, the Hungarian clerk winced at the mention of the correct name, and told her that in Hungary, they still use the old, French colonial name "Felső Volta" (Upper Volta). The reason: Because, as it occurred to my wife later, the name Burkina Faso, sounds to Hungarian ears something like: "Leather Chinese Dick".


Anonymous said...

I can't wait to ride some bubis!

Jelica said...

That's a great story about Leather Chinese Dick :)

Congrats on the name, now let's see the bikes...

Dr Pokoly said...

Do you have any new information about the implementation and launch date of BuBi?