Monday, April 23, 2012

Roadside Linguistics - Sign Semantics

A couple of months ago I noticed a new sign on the side of the road in a small town which I frequently visit.

Having no idea what the sign meant or what a "Jake Brake is, I asked my son to look it up on his phone. Thus began a brief lesson about genericide.

Apparently "Jake Brake" is a trademarked name for a type of engine brake (another term that was new to me) that is the Kleenex of tissues. Engine breaks are known for their loud, machine-gun-like sound.

Here are some excerpts from Truck Drivers News:

The term “Jake brake” comes from a Jacobs Engine brake, or engine retarder. It works when exhaust valves in the cylinder head open, releasing the compressed air that is trapped by the head and slows the truck down.

A “Jake brake” is used along with gearing down the truck to keep from overheating the service brakes that are used to stop the truck.

When the exhaust system on a truck is in proper working fashion, you barely can even hear the engine brake. But, thanks to “Jake brake cowboys” most communities have added no “Jake brake” use laws.

Images credits:
Jake Brake, Engine Brake

1 comment:

katie k said...

What a great term. I could see it being shortened and the definition broadened to include other kinds of noise...
'what's with all the jake? pipe down in the backseat you kids!'

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