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Old 10-17-2002, 11:22 AM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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"Ecosse" stickers on Scottish cars?

Here's something that's been puzzling me for a while. I quite often see cars, presumably owned by Scottish people, with stickers reading "ECOSSE", sometimes with the blue cross of St Andrew as well.

I'm well aware that Ecosse is the French name for Scotland, but why do Scottish people use the French name in preference to the English name, or even the Gaelic name Alba?

Can any Scottish people enlighten me?
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Old 10-17-2002, 11:47 AM
Iguana Boy Iguana Boy is offline
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There are some stickers that say "Alba", but I have seen the "Ecosse" ones, and I too have wondered why they are in French!

I suspect it is due to the fact that these stickers are for use abroad. If someone is taking their car abroad then it is most likely to be continental Europe, and therefore a European language would be preferable. French is usually the first second language taught in schools here, so.....

And we sure ain't going to use English!!

Just a WAG, but it makes sense to me!
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Old 10-17-2002, 11:50 AM
Wallenstein Wallenstein is offline
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Perhaps because Scottish drivers only need to identify their vehicle's nationality when driving on mainland Europe... There's no need to have it in English cos it's not required when driving from Scotland to England.

As such "Ecosse" makes sense because the French, Belgians and Swiss will be able to understand it straight off, and it's also not too far removed from the Spanish "Escocia".

The Italian, Portugese and German translations are all pretty similar to the original (la Scozia, Scotland and Schottland respectively) but it's perhaps assumed that most driving will be done in France and Spain (Germany's not such a popular self-drive holiday destination in the UK) and that therefore having it in French will communicate with the most people...?

However, I was always under the impression that from a legal point of view British cars - ie. English, Welsh and Scottish - all had to have a "GB" sticker (rather than "Eng" "Wls" or "Sct")... but that might have changed with the relaxation of European border controls.

That's my WAG!
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Old 10-17-2002, 11:50 AM
Bindlestiff Bindlestiff is offline
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Decades ago I was really turned on to sports car racing. The international governing body for auto racing is the FEDERATION INTERNATIONALE DE L'AUTOMOBILE (FIA). They used French in many of their designations. I speculate that the usage you have seen comes from that. Are the cars in question sports/performance-oriented cars?

I'm just guessing. I'll keep checking in till I learn the real answer.
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Old 10-17-2002, 12:00 PM
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I second Bindlestiff, sort of. I imagine that racing fans, amateur drivers, and rally drivers from Scotland will proudly declare their support of racing AND their nationality using these stickers. They are not official stickers, though, and people who just want something more exotic will use them too.

The stickers aren't anything like the ones used for driving on the Continent, and the Scots use "GB" like the rest of the UK.
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Old 10-17-2002, 12:01 PM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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I don't think the explanations about it being understood in continental Europe are right, for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, the stickers aren't normally the "international oval" type stickers, and often the cars also have a standard GB sticker on them. They tend to be bigger, and more of a decorative "proud to be Scottish" type of thing. (Here's a site that sells the more basic ovals.)

Secondly, and perhaps more convincingly, why only Scotland? If the international-understanding thing was the reason, then we should see stickers saying "Angleterre", "Pays de Galles" etc, and I've never seen one of those.

Another piece of evidence - the Sunday Times (big UK newspaper) publishes a special section in Scotland. It's called (you guessed it) "Ecosse".

Quote:
Decades ago I was really turned on to sports car racing. The international governing body for auto racing is the FEDERATION INTERNATIONALE DE L'AUTOMOBILE (FIA). They used French in many of their designations. I speculate that the usage you have seen comes from that. Are the cars in question sports/performance-oriented cars?
No, just ordinary family cars for the most part.
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Old 10-17-2002, 12:03 PM
dylan_73 dylan_73 is offline
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And then, there's this!

I never heard about it being banned! My WAG though, is that if you're taking your car abroad, the most likely countries to arrive on are France or Belgium. Hence the Ecosse.
  #8  
Old 10-17-2002, 12:27 PM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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From the BBC site above:
Quote:
Mr MacAskill said he was angry that countries such as Luxembourg and Lichtenstein[sic] and even the Vatican City are able to display their symbols on their number plates, but not Scotland.
Well, duh. Those three countries are independent nations, whereas Scotland is part of the United Kingdom. Anyway, that is beside the point. (Not trying to offend anyone or belittle Scotland, just stating a fact.)

But this doesn't answer the Ecosse question. I've established that it is limited to Scotland (which would seem to rule out the "taking cars abroad" reason) but is not limited to car stickers (eg the newspaper example, and I've also seen the stickers in people's windows, etc, not just on cars).

And look at this web-design firm - again no obvious reason for using French, but this is just one of many Scottish sites that use Ecosse in their name.

What is behind this Franco-Scottish conspiracy?
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Old 10-17-2002, 12:30 PM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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One other point - as that news article pointed out, the "SCO" or "ECOSSE" symbols have only been banned from appearing on the number plates themselves. You can still put whatever you like elsewhere on the car:

Quote:
"Of course, any symbol or emblem may be displayed on the vehicle providing it does not form part of the number plate or obscure the registration mark."
  #10  
Old 10-17-2002, 12:30 PM
Bjorn240 Bjorn240 is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by r_k
... What is behind this Franco-Scottish conspiracy?
Mary Stuart?

- Christian
  #11  
Old 10-17-2002, 12:33 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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I still say the euros are mad. Why not allow Scottish drivers to deviate from arbitrary standardisation?
  #12  
Old 10-17-2002, 12:48 PM
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The Welsh also use Cymru - Welsh for Wales. The English occasionally use the flag of St George as a bumper sticker but rarely instead of the GB sticker. The reason why the Jocks & Taffs use it is that they don't wish to be associated with England. Why that should be so is, naturally, a long story for a Great Debate.
  #13  
Old 10-17-2002, 12:56 PM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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Quote:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by r_k
... What is behind this Franco-Scottish conspiracy?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Mary Stuart?
Hmm, you could be onto something there...
  #14  
Old 10-17-2002, 01:02 PM
DarrenS DarrenS is offline
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My hypothesis is, it has something to do with The Auld Alliance.

Essentially, Scottland and France have traditionally had a common "enemy" - England!
  #15  
Old 10-17-2002, 01:41 PM
APB APB is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Iguana Boy
I suspect it is due to the fact that these stickers are for use abroad.
On the contrary, I suspect that the whole point is that they are for use at home. Their only purpose is as a statement about the Scottishness of the owners. This sometimes takes the form of full-blooded 'Braveheart'/'Remember 1314' nationalism, but it can equally be the gentler 'We're Scottish, not British' type of patriotism as well. The GB sticker creates problems because it is one of the rare occasions on which anyone is required to identify themselves (by implication) as 'British'. The distinction is one which will almost certainly be lost on most foreigners but which will be understood by fellow Scots and possibly even by some of the English. My impression is that it is a very middle-class thing, partly because the middle classes are more likely to have taken their car on holiday abroad.

As to why it is in French, my theory would be that it strikes just the right note of pretentiousness.
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Old 10-17-2002, 02:07 PM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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I just conducted a straw poll in my office, and nobody (even a couple of Scottish people) had a clue.

One (half-joking) suggestion was "So that if they go to France, the locals don't smash up their cars thinking they're English"!

But, I think the "Auld Alliance" explanation seems to be the answer (unless anyone knows different?)
  #17  
Old 10-17-2002, 05:29 PM
The Griffin The Griffin is offline
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Probably the fact that France is the most likely country someone from UK is going to take their car to. That's the most obvious reason to me.
  #18  
Old 10-17-2002, 09:18 PM
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Quote:
What is behind this Franco-Scottish conspiracy?
Somehow, I have an image of canned haggis-aroni...
  #19  
Old 05-09-2018, 07:56 PM
TuffGnarl TuffGnarl is offline
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I realise this is 16 years old but every year when I search Google to find a decent Ecosse sticker to buy, I come across this thread.

A few people touch on some of the reasons for people using these stickers and the reason for it being in French is as stated, due to motoracing where all designations were originally French, due to French being the traditional language of diplomacy and the FIA being originally a French organisation that is still headquartered in France.

This car stickers themselves have their origin in motorsport and would have originally stood for the French version of the country name. GB for example would be Grande Bretagne.

As for why people use them Iíd say thatís mostly been covered. A significant number (if not the majority) of Scottish people identify more prominently as Scottish than British and Britishness is really synonymous with Englishness, even more so abroad. You also tend to find that French people (and Europeans in general) are enthusiastically friendly towards you when they notice these stickers. I donít think that has anything to do with the Auld Alliance. I suspect itís partly down to how English people are perceived abroad, particularly in France. But as with the Irish, people seem to hold an innately positive perception of us. Iíve had love hearts added to my Ecosse stickers in the past as well as invitations for drinks among other things.

Anyway. I donít know if Iím allowed to bump threads from nearly two decades ago or if any of the previous posters still use the straight dope, but I had to respond haha.

Last edited by TuffGnarl; 05-09-2018 at 08:00 PM.
  #20  
Old 05-10-2018, 02:59 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TuffGnarl View Post
This car stickers themselves have their origin in motorsport and would have originally stood for the French version of the country name. GB for example would be Grande Bretagne.
Also Great Britain, and note that Germany is D and Holland is NL. Unless you've got a cite, saying that it's GB because of French sounds like backsplaining.


And: welcome to the Dope, you may get jokes about zombie threads but that's ok if the mods didn't want people to be able to add to it they can close it, and a lot of the previous posters are indeed still around. Drinks and food are in Cafe Society (it's the closest I can come to inviting you into the kitchen).
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Last edited by Nava; 05-10-2018 at 03:00 AM.
  #21  
Old 05-10-2018, 04:00 AM
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I've always heard that it's an anti-english jab, showing a stronger allegiance with France. Auld-Alliance indeed.

Of course the Cymru example given above for Wales is different, as that is actually Welsh language.
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Old 05-10-2018, 04:13 AM
Filbert Filbert is offline
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Just a WAG for why 'Ecosse' and not 'Alba'- Ecosse is unambiguous. 'Alba' could be misinterpreted as short for 'Albania' or, I guess, 'white' in Latin.
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Old 05-10-2018, 05:11 AM
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There is an exact similarity between a Scot having an 'Ecosse' sticker and a 'redneck' having a confederate bumper sticker.

"Redneck" was the best collective noun that I could come up with - no offence intended.

Last edited by bob++; 05-10-2018 at 05:12 AM.
  #24  
Old 05-10-2018, 05:19 AM
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Originally Posted by bob++ View Post
"Redneck" was the best collective noun that I could come up with - no offence intended.
Given the recent glorious weather, you're right for the wrong reason!
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Old 05-10-2018, 07:20 AM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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Wow, a post I wrote almost 16 years ago!
  #26  
Old 05-10-2018, 07:50 AM
The Stafford Cripps The Stafford Cripps is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob++ View Post
There is an exact similarity between a Scot having an 'Ecosse' sticker and a 'redneck' having a confederate bumper sticker.

"Redneck" was the best collective noun that I could come up with - no offence intended.
You have caused offense though. There is no similarity between an 'Ecosse' sticker (which are pretty rare nowadays, I think) and what is a highly controversial symbol.
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Old 05-10-2018, 08:20 AM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob++ View Post
There is an exact similarity between a Scot having an 'Ecosse' sticker and a 'redneck' having a confederate bumper sticker.

"Redneck" was the best collective noun that I could come up with - no offence intended.


So, bob++, you're saying the word "Ecosse" is a symbol of white supremacy and racial slavery, and that "Scot" has the same connotations as "redneck"?
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Old 05-10-2018, 08:45 AM
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So, bob++, you're saying the word "Ecosse" is a symbol of white supremacy and racial slavery, and that "Scot" has the same connotations as "redneck"?
IAN bob++ and cannot speak for him etc., but I'm guessing his intended analogy was more about people in what used to be (if only briefly) an independent political entity using their former national symbols to express pride in their heritage and to differentiate it from the larger political entity that theirs was subordinated to. No implications about slavery, whiteness, etc., intended.

(Although I personally agree that the Confederate flag is intrinsically a more toxic and objectionable form of symbolism than the "Ecosse" sticker, even while I acknowledge that lots of real-life Confederate-flag wavers don't actually mean anything more by it than "we like chicken-fried steak and crappie fishing" and so on.)

Last edited by Kimstu; 05-10-2018 at 08:45 AM.
  #29  
Old 05-10-2018, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Go alien View Post
The Welsh also use Cymru - Welsh for Wales.
The logic of Welsh people using Welsh is rather immediately obvious. The logic of French being used for what is arguably the most homogenously English-speaking country in the world is an understandably puzzling thing.
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Old 05-10-2018, 10:26 AM
The Stafford Cripps The Stafford Cripps is offline
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Originally Posted by RickJay View Post
The logic of Welsh people using Welsh is rather immediately obvious. The logic of French being used for what is arguably the most homogenously English-speaking country in the world is an understandably puzzling thing.
'Ecosse' has fewer letters than 'Scotland', and so is easier to fit on a sticker. Scottish people on holiday with their cars probably spend more time in France than all other mainland European countries put together (we certainly did, and lots of others I know).

So while there are numerous pedantic reasons to declare it illogical, the fashion (for that's all it was) was not entirely inexplicable.
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Old 05-10-2018, 10:28 AM
The Stafford Cripps The Stafford Cripps is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimstu View Post
IAN bob++ and cannot speak for him etc., but I'm guessing his intended analogy was more about people in what used to be (if only briefly) an independent political entity using their former national symbols to express pride in their heritage and to differentiate it from the larger political entity that theirs was subordinated to. No implications about slavery, whiteness, etc., intended.
So at best it qualifies as a 'weak analogy, with provisos which were not in the event stated'. In no way does it qualify as an 'exact similarity'.
  #32  
Old 05-10-2018, 11:01 AM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimstu View Post
IAN bob++ and cannot speak for him etc., but I'm guessing his intended analogy was more about people in what used to be (if only briefly) an independent political entity using their former national symbols to express pride in their heritage and to differentiate it from the larger political entity that theirs was subordinated to. No implications about slavery, whiteness, etc., intended.

Scotland was not "briefly independent." It was an independent country for close to nine centuries, using Kenneth MacAlpine's kingship as the traditional founding date.

As well, Scotland today is a recognised separate country within the United Kingdom, exercising considerable devolved powers recognised and granted by the British gouvernement.

How is that an "exact similarity" to a break-away rebellious group, never recognised by the USA or any other country as legitimate, and dedicated to the proposition of racial slavery and white supremacy?
  #33  
Old 05-10-2018, 01:07 PM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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I wouldn't be so quick to rule out the motorsport explanation. Probably the most prominent use of the term in popular culture was the 1950s-70s Ecurie Ecosse endurance racing team, where Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart famously honed their chops. Scottish drivers, Scottish mechanics, and [mostly English] cars painted Flag Blue.

Last edited by Really Not All That Bright; 05-10-2018 at 01:08 PM.
  #34  
Old 05-10-2018, 01:14 PM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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But anyway, prior to 1992, UK drivers on the continent had to have national identifier stickers to avoid getting ticketed for a non-standard number plate. In 1992, plates were standardized to include a national identifier. Then in 2001 they changed the plates again. I think Ecosse just became popular so that the French (whose territory you mostly have to drive through to get anywhere else on the Continent) would know where you were from.
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Old 05-10-2018, 01:25 PM
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…cosse
[ekɔs ]

feminine noun

lí…cosse Scotland
en …cosse (situation) in Scotland; (direction) to Scotland
Il a passť une semaine en …cosse. He spent a week in Scotland.
Nous allons en …cosse líťtť prochain. Weíre going to Scotland next summer.
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  #36  
Old 05-10-2018, 01:29 PM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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Um, thanks?
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Old 05-10-2018, 08:07 PM
TuffGnarl TuffGnarl is offline
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I can't quote for some reason. It appears that my theory about the origin of the old oval stickers was incorrect. But as has been mentioned I think Ecurrie Ecosse is one likely explanation for the origin of the use of Ecosse. And it is true that the FIA traditionally assigned French abbreviations as national identifications.

Saw another mention of it being a jab at the English. Rampant Scottish anglophobia is a bit of a myth to be honest. It exists, but Scots don't universally dislike the English. I'd wager that I had more trouble as a Scot living in the South East of England (where I faced constant resentment and ignorance) than most English people will ever experience up here. The media and politicians have made a lot of anglophobia in recent times with the political climate in Scotland, but for the vast majority of people who supported independence in 2014, the issue was with the "democratic deficit” and the resulting lack of impact or representation Scot's have in choosing governments. Paradoxically a lot of the more militant unionist types don't have any love for England, but feel "loyal” to the crown and the idea of Britain as a whole, particularly where Britains history as a world power is concerned.

I'd reiterate what I said previously. Most Scots consider themselves to be Scottish as opposed to British. Scottish identity is pretty much as strong as that of any independent nation's citizens and Britishness is largely synonymous with Englishness. The stickers identify you specifically as Scottish, which does you favours abroad.

On the redneck similarity assertion, I'm not offended. I wouldn't say that was an accurate comparison however. The confederacy existed for four years having seceded from a another secessionist state in it's infancy. Scotland has existed in more or less it's current state (constitutional and sovereign status notwithstanding) for nearly 1200 years, which makes it one of the oldest extant nations.

Last edited by TuffGnarl; 05-10-2018 at 08:08 PM.
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