Bon Voyage!

Or perhaps buon viaggio would be more appropriate, considering that when this is published, I’ll be on a flight from Dublin to Rome for a few days of well-earned rest. So you won’t hear from me for about a week or so, but rest assured my immersion in Italian will give me lots of fresh ideas to write about!

For now, let’s think about how we’d say bon voyage in English. Well, bon voyage of course, we’ve borrowed it from French. Or you could say have a nice trip, or safe journey, but you probably wouldn’t use the word voyage (the English word, not French), would you?

Not unless someone was going on a cruise, because while viaggio and voyage in Italian and French respectively can mean journey or trip, voyage in English only refers to a lengthy voyage by sea (or space!) All three words can be traced back to the Latin viaticum, meaning provisions for a journey, but in English the word ended up becoming more specific.

Still, not too specific, because as I mentioned earlier, we can also refer to a journey through space as a voyage (These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise…) A voyage in a spaceship, no less. Why do we use nautical terminology to refer to space travel?

I think it’s mainly because when people first started to conceive of voyaging in space in early science fiction, sea travel was still the only way to effectively travel long distances, so it seemed natural to use the same terminology to refer to travelling the vast distances of outer space. And after we developed air travel, sea travel seemed so much slower, so it was logical to use the same language to refer to even lengthier space travel. Plus, space just feels more like the sea, with its vast stretches of featureless expanse, without anything solid underneath you.

Just a little thought before I embark on my journey. Have fun while I’m away, and see you soon!

One thought on “Bon Voyage!

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