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corduroy

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corduroy

Postby William Hupy » Fri Jul 05, 2013 8:31 am

From French for "cloth of the king". Interesting how the loggers, who must have been of French heritage, in my neck of the woods, would lay down logs in the swampy portions of primitive trails and called them corduroy roads. To this day, with frost and the spring upheaval, those old logs will make their way to the surface of the road. So I think of King Louis XVI every time I bicycle the scenic route.
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Re: corduroy

Postby Slava » Fri Jul 05, 2013 9:05 am

William Hupy wrote:From French for "cloth of the king".
This is actually folk etymology.
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Re: corduroy

Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Jul 05, 2013 1:08 pm

Many country roads have the corduroy effect without the logs. Not sure why, perhaps variations in soil texture creating hard places or eroding low places.
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Re: corduroy

Postby Philip Hudson » Wed Jul 10, 2013 1:56 am

When discussing a word with several meanings, it is important to know which meaning came first. The cloth, corduroy, came first. It seems that the only etymology is for the first syllable that is obviously from the word cord. The word was never used in French so "cloth of the king of France " is out.

Roads made of logs laid orthogonal to the roadway and parallel to each other reminded the people in Colonial America of corduroy cloth. Perry observes that some unpaved have a corduroy effect. In my part of the sticks, these roads are called washboard roads.

It might also be interesting to note that roads have been paved with short logs buried vertically in the ground and touching each other on all sides. This is, in effect, a road of wooden cobblestones. Downtown streets in San Antonio, Texas, were originally paved that way. I have seen street repair in San Antonio in which these logs were exposed, having been previously covered with asphalt.

Macadam is another word currently under discussion. We rarely say macadam roads in the US. We usually call them asphalt or blacktop roads. One occasionally hears someone in the US use tarmac to indicate the asphalt-paved approaches to airport runways. We have inherited this word recently from the British. Airport runways are almost always made of steel reinforced concrete, as are most highways and many streets in Texas. Asphalt roads do not hold up in the extreme heat of Texas summers.
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