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Bella Coola Provoking Giggles in Torino

A cedar tree from Bella Coola, a town on the British Columbia Central Coast, is the centrepiece of the Canada Pavillion at the Torino Olympics.  According to the Vancouver Sun, however, Bella Coola sounds too much like the Italian for ‘nice bum’ and Canadian officials have stopped telling people where the tree comes from.

Bill Poser picks up the linguistics side of this story, including some notes about the Italian for ‘nice bum’:

That [Bella Coola sounds like nice ass in Italian] seems like a pretty weak reason to lie about the origin of the wood, but in any case, as far as I can tell (Italian being a language I can read but don’t speak and don’t know really well) there is no such phrase in Italian.

He elaborates from there, providing information about Italian and gender agreements in that language. 

Warning: these stories contain bad puns.  There is also some disagreement about the species of tree in question.  (Ah, the stuff we bat around!)

See also Protecting Knowledge Group.

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