Each article on our blog is translated into three languages: Italian, German and English. Sometimes we talk about themes that cross over between languages, but in some cases the use of one language rather than another requires further clarification.
No sooner said than done! In reference to the command bar of an aeroplane, Italian commonly uses the French word cloche, but this doesn’t coincide at all with the same device in French, which is known as manche or more generically commandes, in the plural form.
So, where does the word cloche come from?
In French, cloche literally means “bell”, a word that hardly brings to mind the image of a command bar, even for those with a vivid imagination.
The reason behind it dates back to the changes that this device has undergone over time. The command bar, which has been in use since the dawn of aviation, at one point was replaced by the sidestick and then the yoke, the U-shaped command device used on larger aeroplanes.
It therefore became necessary to coin words which would differentiate the different command devices. The classic design of the bar includes leather or rubber upholstery to protect the apparatus from dust, dirt or small objects accidentally falling (such as a shirt button), which could jeopardise the correct functioning of the equipment.
The same upholstery is used by many car manufacturers to cover the gear levers of cars. Doesn’t that upholstery somewhat remind you of the shape of… a bell?