Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Pedantry - "Motor" versus "Engine"

Even Jay Leno gets dinged by pedantic people!

Jay Leno has a YouTube channel and it is interesting to watch on two levels.  First, you can see, episode-by-episode, how he has succumbed to incipient dementia brought on by old age.  It is sad to see, but he is getting on and getting confused more and more.  He's also a horrible driver, with poor lane control.  But you can't help but like him - or at least his on-air personality.  Maybe he is an asshole in person, but I doubt it.

The second thing is that his YouTube channel, with its low production values, is very low-key and down-to-earth.  You feel like you are listening to Jay and not some actor.  He also has a cable show (some episodes appear on his YouTube channel - worth skipping), and the difference is startling - weird noises and music and jarring graphics interrupt each scene. And like with "reality teevee" they edit with sharp cuts to create artificial controversy.  It sucks.

But one comment Jay made on his YouTube channel was that people were correcting him in the comments for calling an "Engine" in a car, a "Motor" as "Engines burn fuel, motors are electric!"

Ahh... pedantry strikes again!

It will come as a sure surprise to General Motors Corporation that the term "Motor" means only an electric motor.  While GM makes (or made) various kinds of electric motors, it is not their primary product.  No, no, their big deal is making Motorcars.

Yes cars, short for motorcar, which at one time in the States (and apparently still in England) were referred to as "motors" before "cars" became more popular.

Of course Ford Motor Company would surely find this pedantry ridiculous and no, they have no plans on changing the company name to the "Ford Engine Company" particularly as they are morphing into an electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer.

UPDATE:  I might also add that Chrysler products have been historically referred to (since the 1960's at least) as "MoPars" after the name of Chrysler's "MoPar" parts division, which is a portmanteau of "Motor Parts."  And no, Chrysler isn't selling electric motor parts at MoPar - other than starter motors and power window winders.  Motor here also, refers to car engines - or motors.  Note also that the same is true overseas - Toyota Motor Corporation, Bavarian Motor Works, and so on and so forth.

If you go to Walmart or any auto parts store, they will sell you motor oil but if you asked for "engine oil" they would surely give you sideways looks.  When you go to register your car, you might want to visit the "Department of Motor Vehicles" and if you asked the nice man at the door where the "Department of Engine Vehicles" was, he would probably throw you out.

If you don't want to paddle or row, you might want to buy an outboard motor and turn your boat into a motorboat.  But don't bother asking your boat dealer for an "outboard engine" or an "engine-boat" - you may leave him scratching his head.

In short, there is really no "official" designation of whether a "motor" refers exclusively to an electric power plant, or whether "engine" is the only correct term for an internal combustion.... motor.  The people who make motor vehicles seem to think so, anywaySo does the dictionary.

It is only stupid know-nothings who want to appear to be smart who makes these stupid pedantic games.  My dipshit brother (the other one) used to say this to me - he knew nothing about cars and yet was lecturing me about the correct use of "motor" versus "engine" while I was attending General MOTORS Institute!

So why do people do this - be pedantic, that is?  It is the same motivation for conspiracy theories (which my dipshit brother is knee-deep into as well).  It is a chance for stupid people to feel smart - to "correct" others who actually know more than they do.  Like some lame YouTuber commenting on a Jay Leno video about the correct usage of "motor" - correcting a guy who owns a collection of 100 or so motorcars, no less!  Kudos to Jay, though, for letting it it slide, like water off a duck's back.

Myself, I am not so kind.  Bullshit is bullshit, and no one gives a rat's ass if you call your car engine a "motor" or not.  If someone says, "Small-block Chevy motor" you only come across as a pedantic asshole by correcting them.  Chances are, they know more about motors than you do.

Happy Motoring!