Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Bison Futé

In past articles on France and the French, Sebastian Rotella, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer, has written things that were incorrect or misleading; his article today (France's August traffic jam) is balanced and researched, I am pleased to note. I would just like to add one "footnote" to what he wrote about "Bison Futé."

In 1976, news reports about worsening highway problems gave rise to a robust culture of road information. The cartoon icon for the last 32 years has been Bison Fute (Clever Buffalo), a plucky Native American warrior who fills the radio, Internet and other media with updates on road conditions and safety tips.

In France, alternate routes are called "routes bis" and indicated by special signs. The first person plural (present tense) of common verbs is formed with the ending "-ons"; so, for instance, "let's drink" is buvons and "let's stop" is arrêtons. "em>Bison futé sounds like "let's cleverly take alternate routes."

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