Daily Archives: August 15, 2012


Yumpin’ yiminy! What fun it is when the vehicles of our expression take flight and land somewhere other than where they came from – and sometimes come back changed, too. It’s like someone who takes a trip abroad, maybe in a “gap year,” and “goes native” – fits right into the new context and adopts the culture. And then maybe comes back but retains elements of that culture. Or perhaps they never really fit in over there but enjoy being the poseur on return. Sort of like a car that takes off from a hump in the ground and then comes back down just a little farther along, but with its bits perhaps a little redistributed from the landing.

Well, today’s word is one such. It’s not a loan that has taken on an English form. It’s not even really a word that’s been fully borrowed into another language and is now being borrowed back (like Japanese sarariman “salaryman” – or references to the Russian mafiya, which is just a transliteration of the Russian transliteration of mafia). Yump is actually a word that stepped out for a smoke with some foreigners and came back in with a foreign accent (I’m put in mind of how bit, as spoken by Sonia Moore, a Russian acting teacher, became beat to generations of actors when referring to a part of a scene). It’s that car that flew through the air for a few seconds and landed with the statuettes on the dashboard rearranged.

It’s a likeable word, to be sure. How can you not enjoy a word that starts with “yum”? Yup! it may rhyme with lump and ump and bump and so on, but that opening glide just smooths it all in – the y is like a funnel of oil, and the u is the cup it pours into, and the m is the buns – I mean the nice oil-risen bread rolls, of course. And the p? Just the little puff at the end.

You probably won’t have encountered this word unless you follow car rallies. Well, in rally car driving, sometimes a car comes to a crest in a road at such high speed that it takes to the air – Dukes of Hazzard style. One set of rally car drivers who demonstrated a fondness for this in the 1960s were Scandinavians (Swedes, Norsemen, et alia). And, well, Yiminy, we know how Scandinavians are thought of as saying jumping and jump, right? Yup. Now rally cars that take flight briefly before returning to their home soil are said to be yumping.

Want to see a picture – and see this word in use in recent times, as proof of currency? Try this 2011 mention from the Car and Driver blog.