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Origins of the word 'pilot' in relation to racing drivers


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#1 Cappo

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 11:34

Saw a discussion about the word 'pilot' when applied to a racing driver, and I realised I have no idea how it made its way into motor sport. I know it's universally used in many languages and was wondering if it came from a European country or language?

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#2 David McKinney

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 11:46

I think it's used in French and Italian - maybe Spanish and Portuguese - but not in English (or German)

#3 chdphd

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 12:32

Pilot sounds a lot better than conducteur or autista.

#4 D-Type

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 12:32

I agree, it's not used in English for a racing driver. (Occasionally we do use 'piloted' as an alternative to 'driving' but this is usually for dramatic effect.)

My dictionary says it means, in order of common usage, either
(1) the person in control of an aircraft or spaceship,
(2) the person who takes control of ships entering or leaving harbour
(3) a person steering a ship

My dictionary says it's derived from 16th Century French, which in turn derived it from Latin, which in turn derived it from the Greek for an oar. So any of the Latin languages may use it in different ways for the concept of 'steering'.

I suspect the name was adopted as the pilot of an aircraft or a [foreign] car is considered to have the same sort of skills as the pilot of a ship.



#5 kayemod

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 12:46

I suspect the name was adopted as the pilot of an aircraft or a [foreign] car is considered to have the same sort of skills as the pilot of a ship.


My own (foreign) gadget-packed road car seems to have quite a lot in common with the starship Enterprise, so maybe that makes me a pilot as well. Having had the steering wheel of a recent F1 car explained to me a few weeks ago, I'd guess that "For sure", piloting a plane would be much simpler than driving that car.


#6 Sharman

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 13:04

Usage a bit like "Chauffeur" directly from the French but truly translated meaning "Stoker"

#7 Allan Lupton

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 14:14

Usage a bit like "Chauffeur" directly from the French but truly translated meaning "Stoker"

Which, in the early days of (say) de Dion, Bouton et Trépardoux, someone had to be.

#8 sbrinley

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 17:49

I always associated its derivation with piloting an aircraft. There are similarities and they both require to some degree the same skills--depth perception being one that comes to mind. Also, a number of successful drivers--John Fitch, Graham Hill, Al Holbert--to name a few, were also pilots.

#9 Michael Ferner

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 19:31

"Pilot" is quite frequently used in German!

#10 Bloggsworth

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 20:03

My French French teacher, who did his National Service in l'armée de l'air, in reference to may father, an RAF pilot, used the word Taxi, so presumably it doesn't come from the French in relation to aircraft but from the Middle French pilot, pillot, from Italian piloto, from Late Latin pillottus; perhaps ultimately from Ancient Greek πηδόν (pēdon), blade of an oar used for steering Triremes and the like). It was used for those who flew hot air balloons, ships of the air.

So - One who steers, whether it be a car, aeroplane or ship.

Edited by Bloggsworth, 09 December 2012 - 14:34.


#11 LittleChris

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 21:58

Given his double take off at Le Mans in the Mercedes and similar at Valencia in the Red Bull, I don't think it would be untruthful to also refer to racing driver Mark Webber as a pilot.....

#12 Bloggsworth

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 22:09

pilota

Edit: piloto is Spanish



We are talking Middle Ages, a lot of words have changed over the centuries, for instance the 18th C. Italian lagrime (tears) has become lacrime.

“Ho il cor gonfio di lagrime.
Quel lume! Ah! una Madonna!”


From La Giaconda by Amilcare Ponchielli, a 19th Century composer.

If you type piloto or pilota into online dictionary and ask it to translate from the Italian or Spanish, each spelling will return the answer pilot in both languages - They seem to be interchangeable; hardly surprising as both languages are derived from Latin, a subject to which I should clearly have have paid more attention 55 years ago!

Edited by Bloggsworth, 07 December 2012 - 23:19.


#13 Tim Murray

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 22:30

Amilcare Ponchielli, a 19th Century composer.

Very OT, but can't resist. Here's Ponchielli's Dance of the Hours as played by Spike Jones and his City Slickers, featuring 'commentary' on an Indy 500:



#14 Bloggsworth

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 19:24

Are we? What was a piloto piloting in 1300?

Funny to be patronized about my native language. Ah, the power of internet. :rolleyes:


Ships... And I'm not being patronising, merely knowledgeable. Language evolves, meanings and pronounciations change and have changed over the centuries; Central and South American Spanish has lost the soft C, and Venezuela is not pronounced Benezuela as we English would hear it when Spaniards say Vuelta (sounds like Buelta to us). Quebequois French sounds to a modern Frenchman like the speech of a country bumpkin. Americans say Skedule where we say Shedule, Or-regg-anno where we and most Italians say oregano with equally stressed syllables, you see, even Italians disagree about the pronounciation of one of their own herbs, or if I were American, 'erbs. So, if I tell you that pilota and piloto were at one time interchangeable, I'm not doing it to try and be clever, I just checked that I had it correct before writing it.

Edited by Bloggsworth, 08 December 2012 - 19:38.


#15 Michael Ferner

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 20:44

Ik saß uff eynem Steyne
Und dachte Beyn mit Beyne...


Not many Germans understand that today...


Very OT, but can't resist. Here's Ponchielli's Dance of the Hours as played by Spike Jones and his City Slickers, featuring 'commentary' on an Indy 500:


Thanks for that - very funny!! :lol:

#16 Bloggsworth

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 21:48

Ik saß uff eynem Steyne
Und dachte Beyn mit Beyne...


Not many Germans understand that today...


Funny you should say that; a friend of mine was saying that one rarely found the ligatured double S found in German ß, or more correctly ZS, in German magazines or literature any more, and also complaining that the umlaut, of two oblique small slashes atop the vowel ő, had been replace by the English diacritical mark of two dots above the vowel ö. Do we even want to know what you were doing with your legs when you were sitting on the stone, but we would like to know whence came it...

Edited by Bloggsworth, 08 December 2012 - 22:41.


#17 Michael Ferner

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 14:04

It's from a very famous poem by Walther von der Vogelweide (actually, it was a medieval pop song...). As a former student of (German) L & L I'm embarrassed to confess that I don't know any further lines... :blush:

Btw, the word "dachte" is an early form of today's German word "bedeckte", meaning the speaker simply crossed his legs! :)

#18 Peter Morley

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 14:49

Pilot sounds a lot better than conducteur or autista.


Conducteur seems quite a good description of what they do today.

#19 Nanni Dietrich

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 13:19

Ships... And I'm not being patronising, merely knowledgeable. Language evolves, meanings and pronounciations change and have changed over the centuries; Central and South American Spanish has lost the soft C, and Venezuela is not pronounced Benezuela as we English would hear it when Spaniards say Vuelta (sounds like Buelta to us). Quebequois French sounds to a modern Frenchman like the speech of a country bumpkin. Americans say Skedule where we say Shedule, Or-regg-anno where we and most Italians say oregano with equally stressed syllables, you see, even Italians disagree about the pronounciation of one of their own herbs, or if I were American, 'erbs. So, if I tell you that pilota and piloto were at one time interchangeable, I'm not doing it to try and be clever, I just checked that I had it correct before writing it.


Good writing, Bloggsworth. But the word "piloto" in Italian DOES NOT exist, DID NOT exist and will NEVER exist.
Piloto is Spanish.
Pilota is Italian. (It is a male word, its plural is "piloti").
Believe me.

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#20 kayemod

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 13:43

Pilot sounds a lot better than conducteur or autista.


Could Raymond "I am an excellent driver" Babbitt be described as an autista?


#21 Bloggsworth

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 14:08

Good writing, Bloggsworth. But the word "piloto" in Italian DOES NOT exist, DID NOT exist and will NEVER exist.
Piloto is Spanish.
Pilota is Italian. (It is a male word, its plural is "piloti").
Believe me.



No - I checked thoroughly before I wrote it. Currently the word in Italian is Pilota, but it wasn't always so, just as, in Italian, the word for tears was Lagrime, but is now Lacrime - Language changes, mutates, takes on new spellings, acquires new meanings, for instance Gay.

Etymology of the Italian word piloto
Derivations in other languages
Portuguese piloto, Spanish piloto
Cognates
Dutch piloot, English pilot, French pilote, German Pilot, Italian pilota, Norwegian pilot, Spanish piloto, Swedish pilot


#22 D-Type

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 15:40

Well, we have the current English meanings of pilot:
(1) the person in control of an aircraft or spaceship,
(2) the person who takes control of ships entering or leaving harbour
(3) a person steering a ship
plus a couple of little-used ones, but not the driver of a racing car

But what of the other languages referred to? Which have the shipping and avisation meanings and which also include a driver?
Italian pilota -
Portuguese piloto -
Spanish piloto -
Dutch piloot -
French pilote -
German Pilot -
Norwegian pilot -
Swedish pilot -
Danish pilot

Any more?
Romanian
any other languages (particularly the Slavic ones)


Edit: Danish added to query list

Edited by D-Type, 10 December 2012 - 16:33.


#23 kayemod

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 16:09

Any more?
Romanian
Danish
any other languages (particularly the Slavic ones


You've asked for one of the Danish words I know, Danish for pilot is, errr Pilot.

Mange tak.


#24 D-Type

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 16:30

You've asked for one of the Danish words I know, Danish for pilot is, errr Pilot.

Mange tak.


You've asked for one of the Danish words I know, Danish for pilot is, errr Pilot.

Mange tak.

I've edited my list accordingly. And in Danish pilot can mean ? :confused:

#25 Bloggsworth

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 19:41

BS.

Stop patronizing people by stating the bleeding obvious.

Read la Divina Commedia, Il principe, il Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi, in the original to begin with. Cover to cover. And then maybe, just maybe, we could begin to talk.

Also realize that some people are fluent in more than three languages [and read without problems several more], have read literature in the original version and can recognize accents from Buenos Aires instead Madrid or Bogota’, Koln instead Solothurn or Linz, Geneva or Marseille, not to mention English. They don’t “google” it before posting.

They just don’t have your complacency and stubbornness to teach native speakers their language.



Before you start accusing people of being patronising, go and study etymology.

Here

Or here

Unless, of course, you know better... Oh, you do, because you've read the Devine Comedy - All the way through. I am pretty well versed in English, but there are still words I have never heard or used, words I may not know how to spell, and a heck of a lot I couldn't trace back to their roots.

Edited by Bloggsworth, 10 December 2012 - 19:53.


#26 D-Type

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 20:43

Before you start accusing people of being patronising, go and study etymology.

Here

Or here

Unless, of course, you know better... Oh, you do, because you've read the Devine Comedy - All the way through. I am pretty well versed in English, but there are still words I have never heard or used, words I may not know how to spell, and a heck of a lot I couldn't trace back to their roots.

So, pilot or the variants pilota, piloto, pilote, and piloot can mean "racing driver" in Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian, but apparently not in Esperanto, Polish, French, Czech, Norwegian, Romanian, Dutch, or Estonian.
Can anybody tell us about other European languages: Albanian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Danish, Finnish, German, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Romansch, Russian, Serbo-Croat, Slovakian, Slovene, Swedish, etc
Blimey! I never realised there were so many European languages.
And should we also consider Arabic, Turkish, Chinese (Mandarin), Korean, and Hindi representing other countries that host F1 races?

#27 Bloggsworth

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 21:00

So, pilot or the variants pilota, piloto, pilote, and piloot can mean "racing driver" in Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian, but apparently not in Esperanto, Polish, French, Czech, Norwegian, Romanian, Dutch, or Estonian.
Can anybody tell us about other European languages: Albanian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Danish, Finnish, German, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Romansch, Russian, Serbo-Croat, Slovakian, Slovene, Swedish, etc
Blimey! I never realised there were so many European languages.
And should we also consider Arabic, Turkish, Chinese (Mandarin), Korean, and Hindi representing other countries that host F1 races?


Interestingly (or not), Romanian; which of modern languages I am told, most closely follows Latin; uses the word Pilot for a Pilot - How sensible of them.

So many languages? In Papua New Guinea there are between 800 & 1,000 languages, more than one language every kilometre; approximately 15% of the world's languages on one end of one small island!

Edited by Bloggsworth, 11 December 2012 - 08:43.


#28 kayemod

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 23:28

Can anybody tell us about other European languages: Albanian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Danish...


Well, as previously stated, pilot in Danish is the same word as in English, and it means exactly the same, a person who flies a plane mostly. My father's mother was Danish, and I've visited the family there several times, on the first occasion I'd have been about 12. I was reading the local paper which had a piece on a motor sport event at the Jyllandsringen circuit near Silkeborg, the writer was mostly interested in a youngish female driver, who to my childish delight was termed a 'Fartpige', a literal translation of which would be speedgirl, but I much preferred the Danish version.


#29 Nanni Dietrich

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 12:06

Before you start accusing people of being patronising, go and study etymology.

Here

Or here

Unless, of course, you know better... Oh, you do, because you've read the Devine Comedy - All the way through. I am pretty well versed in English, but there are still words I have never heard or used, words I may not know how to spell, and a heck of a lot I couldn't trace back to their roots.


Once and for all, Bloggsworth stop your Italian lessons. Please, come to Italy and as you get into the taxi, ask the driver (the conductor? the pilot? here in Italy where I'm living since I was born, we say taxista or the idiomatic word "tassinaro") :
"Tu pensi che Schumacher è un buon piloto?"
The taxi driver (tassinaro) would turn his head and look at you with this kind of face:
:confused:
and he would think: "this man must be Spanish..."

We in Italy hear the word piloto only by Fernando Alonso, Daniel Pedrosa or Alberto Contador during interviews.

As I said, despite it ends with the letter "A" which in Italian is usually reserved to female words, Pilota is a male word.

You are correct, lagrime does not exist anymore in Italian, put pilota is definitely pilota, and that's it!

Edited by Nanni Dietrich, 11 December 2012 - 13:55.


#30 byrkus

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 13:34

In Slovenian, the word 'pilot' has several meanings...

1) someone who's capable of controling an airplane
2) maritime expert, who controles the ship in a harbour
3) fish oh warm seas with several stripes, "naucrates ductor" :drunk:
4) upright structural element, which carries a building

As for an "F1 driver", we use a word "dirkač F1" or "voznik F1" - racer or driver, respectively.


#31 Bloggsworth

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 18:01

Once and for all, Bloggsworth stop your Italian lessons. Please, come to Italy and as you get into the taxi, ask the driver (the conductor? the pilot? here in Italy where I'm living since I was born, we say taxista or the idiomatic word "tassinaro") :
"Tu pensi che Schumacher è un buon piloto?"
The taxi driver (tassinaro) would turn his head and look at you with this kind of face:
:confused:
and he would think: "this man must be Spanish..."

We in Italy hear the word piloto only by Fernando Alonso, Daniel Pedrosa or Alberto Contador during interviews.

As I said, despite it ends with the letter "A" which in Italian is usually reserved to female words, Pilota is a male word.

You are correct, lagrime does not exist anymore in Italian, put pilota is definitely pilota, and that's it!



If you actually bothered to read what I wrote, you might have actually understood what I was writing about, but as you clearly can't be bothered to do that, and are so pleased with yourself, carry on your self-congratulatory onanism and leave the grown up conversations to those who are willing to learn from history.

#32 Michael Ferner

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 20:55

Without going to dictionaries, a "Pilot" in German can describe any person in charge of a moving device, be it an aircraft, a glider, a ship or a car, even a bike, but it is almost exclusively used for planes. The related verb is "pilotieren", and pretty much describes the act of steering, i.e. controlling the direction, with undertones of difficulty or complexity in the task. Interestingly, the nautical pilot is not a "Pilot" in German, but a "Lotse" - see the etymology? :)

Edited by Michael Ferner, 11 December 2012 - 20:56.


#33 Twin Window

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 21:12

Please try not to get wound-up chaps. It isn't the most sensitive topics after all, now is it.

Thanks.

#34 GrzegorzChyla

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 21:19

Polish


in Polish motorsport the word 'pilot' means co-driver AKA second driver or navigator.

#35 sramoa

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 21:20

So, pilot or the variants pilota, piloto, pilote, and piloot can mean "racing driver" in Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian, but apparently not in Esperanto, Polish, French, Czech, Norwegian, Romanian, Dutch, or Estonian.
Can anybody tell us about other European languages: Albanian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Danish, Finnish, German, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Romansch, Russian, Serbo-Croat, Slovakian, Slovene, Swedish, etc
Blimey! I never realised there were so many European languages.
And should we also consider Arabic, Turkish, Chinese (Mandarin), Korean, and Hindi representing other countries that host F1 races?


We(hungarians) using: Pilóta word-I don't have any info other nations.Pilóta is driver(car,airplane,etc)!

Edited by sramoa, 11 December 2012 - 21:48.


#36 Cappo

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 10:43

Wow - I didn't think such a simple question would excite people so madly! Must dream up another odd one now. :eek:

#37 Nanni Dietrich

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 12:12

Wow - I didn't think such a simple question would excite people so madly! Must dream up another odd one now. :eek:


Yes, it is such a simple question and nobody is madly excited, Cappo (I speak for myself) .
But I think you agree that it's ridiculous that after reading just a poor wikipedia page and another pretty unreliable website (whose authority, by the way, is proved by its funny advertising banner that read "Meet Chinese Lady" :rolleyes: ), our friend Bloggsworth claims to know by heart the Italian language, and refuses to accept the advices of those who are Italian native speakers.
Is not it?


#38 D-Type

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 13:42

Yes, it is such a simple question and nobody is madly excited, Cappo (I speak for myself) .
But I think you agree that it's ridiculous that after reading just a poor wikipedia page and another pretty unreliable website (whose authority, by the way, is proved by its funny advertising banner that read "Meet Chinese Lady" :rolleyes: ), our friend Bloggsworth claims to know by heart the Italian language, and refuses to accept the advices of those who are Italian native speakers.
Is not it?


Not quite true. All that Bloggsworth originally said was that he had found a reference stating the word piloto existed in medieval Italian. And various Italian speakers have pointed out that it is now pilota.

#39 Bloggsworth

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 14:27

Not quite true. All that Bloggsworth originally said was that he had found a reference stating the word piloto existed in medieval Italian. And various Italian speakers have pointed out that it is now pilota.



It is amusing that while the fact that lagrime became lacrime in less than 150 years is perfectly acceptable, the parallel that piloto became pilota over a period of 800 years is not :| But hey! I'm only a poet, what would I know about words...

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#40 kayemod

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 14:32

It is amusing that while the fact that lagrime became lacrime in less than 150 years is perfectly acceptable, the parallel that piloto became pilota over a period of 800 years is not :| But hey! I'm only a poet, what would I know about words...


A poet eh? I've been thinking about a little ditty to add to this thread, but struggled to find something to rhyme with 'stirrer'. Agitatore maybe...?


#41 Nanni Dietrich

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 14:56

Not quite true. All that Bloggsworth originally said was that he had found a reference stating the word piloto existed in medieval Italian. And various Italian speakers have pointed out that it is now pilota.


Not quite true, D-Type. The Italian speakers who posted in this thread had pointed out that the word IS pilota AND that the reference stating the word piloto did exist in medieval Italian IS NOT TRUE.

Piloto is NOT Italian. NOT medieval Italian, NOT renaissance Italian, NOT Italian of 800, 900, 1000 years ago and of any century (don't think it is a difficult concept to understand).
Piloto is Spanish.

Bloggsworth, as the wikipedia page that you have found reads, PILOTO does exist in Italian. Yes, it is the first-person singular present indicative of the verb pilotare:
Io piloto la macchina (I drive the car)
Tu piloti la macchina (You drive the car)
Egli pilota la macchina (He/she drives the car)
etc.

Lagrime is now lacrime. This is not only accettable, this is true.
Pilota is pilota. That's enoff (medieval English for enough... does exist English in medieval times?).

Edited by Nanni Dietrich, 13 December 2012 - 15:05.


#42 Twin Window

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 20:50

That's enoff (medieval English for enough... does exist English in medieval times?).


Thanks, Nanni. I agree - thread closed.