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Wednesday, November 21, 2012



1.  The transportation of merchandise for the purpose of trade; hence, trade between distant or distinct communities; commerce.

2.       The passing to and fro of persons, or of vehicles or vessels, along a road, railway, canal, or other route of transport

1511   Pylgrymage Richarde Guylforde (Pynson) f. xliiijv,   We founde also at Candy .ij. other Galyes venysyans ladynge Maluesyes called the Galeys of traffygo.


The origin of the word is debatable as the first appearance of the word in several countries occurs in relatively the same span of time. The Old French version of traffic was trafique meaning “trade, commerce”, which then evolved to the Modern French trafic. What is now known in Spanish as tráfico was, in the 16th century, tráfago. The earliest documented English versions are traffykke and traffigo. The French term then evolved to traffick in the 17th century and finally, trafic or traffic became the most customary form in the 18th century. The Italian traffic, can be documented as early as 1323 in the Pisan document, Statuti inediti della citta di Pisa dal written by Bonaini. Despite the debatable origin and etymology, it has been generally agreed upon that traffic is a Romanic word derived from Latin origins within the Indo-European family.

Derivations of the word traffic include from Arabic tafriq, meaning “distribution”. The connotation of traffic meaning “people and vehicles coming and going” arose in 1825. Whereas the term traffic jam overtook the expression traffic block in 1917. As modes of transportation began to evolve, so did the connotation of traffic block. Traffic jams in the 19th century England would have meant a congestion of horse-drawn vehicles and four wheel coaches on cobblestone roads. Whereas an infamous traffic jam that occurred more recently in September of 2010 involved a 10 day blockage of thousands of vehicles that brought cars and large trucks in China to a halt on 1000km stretch of paved highway.

Traffic can also be used to describe smaller scales of directional movement such as the navigation of morning traffic through the hallways of a secondary school. Finding your way to class through the endless pack of high school cliques or through cafeteria lunch lines at the peak of noon has many similarities to trudging bumper-to-bumper on the highway through rush hour. The feeling closely linked to the gridlock of traffic would be frustration. Undoubtedly, there was an overwhelming sense of frustration for those drivers trapped in the congestion of vehicles. The cacophony of honking horns and shouting drivers would be sufficient in causing a migraine. Similarly, waiting in line to buy food from the cafeteria would cause irritation. Even more so as your stomach growls loudly and the student in front of you in line continues to count out his change in pennies, ignorant to the traffic building up behind him.


There was heavy traffic on Main Street following an accident.


[1] "traffic, n.". OED Online. September 2012. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/204333?rskey=JohPkH&result=1&isAdvanced=false (accessed November 15, 2012).
[2] "traffic, v.". OED Online. September 2012. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/204334?rskey=JohPkH&result=2&isAdvanced=false (accessed November 15, 2012).
[3] Robert Brown, "London in the 19th Century," The University of North Carolina at Pembroke: The City in European History (blog), April 16, 2004, http://www.uncp.edu/home/rwb/london_19c.html.
[4] Coonan, Clifford. "The ten-day traffic jam driving China mad ." The Independent, , sec. Asia, August 25, 2010. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/the-tenday-traffic-jam-driving-china-mad-2061184.html (accessed November 15, 2012).

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