The term "Prancing Horse" - Ferrari Life
 
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post #1 of 15 Old 11-17-2009, 12:02 PM Thread Starter
 
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The term "Prancing Horse"

I'm sure everybody knows the origin of Ferrari's logo but I'm trying to find out where the English term "Prancing Horse" comes from. The Italian name for it is the cavallino rampante which translates literally as rampant horse or perhaps horse rampant (like the lion rampant on the Scottish flag). The term prancing does not actually mean a horse rearing up on its hind legs but rather refers to springing gait, moving forward off its back legs.

So the question is: when, why and by whom was the English phrase introduced and was it just a mistranslation or something more deliberate? I can't find any reference to it on the web but surely one of you Ferrari enthusiasts must know.

Thanks for your assistance

Duncan
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post #2 of 15 Old 11-17-2009, 12:41 PM
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This excerpt was taken from http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=31366

"Rampante refers to an animal with four legs standing on posterior legs while with the forelegs are rising up and forward - like a lion attacking. In common language the word is very rare and oldfashioned, while it's common in araldic context. Have a look at Ferrari logo that "cavallino" (little horse) is... rampante.

Rampante is also common in colloquial italian meaning ambitious, career-oriented person.

Ciao Walnut"

Jepsonclough, that was a very good question!
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post #3 of 15 Old 11-17-2009, 12:51 PM Thread Starter
 
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My point exactly neonzapper!

In fact, I was involved in the thread that you quote on wordreference (which was over a year ago) and I'm raising it now because there was a new post this morning and, on re-reading the discussion, I realised we hadn't answered that seemingly simple question.

Cheers

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post #4 of 15 Old 11-17-2009, 01:42 PM
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Interesting question.

Perhaps the Merriam Webster entry is of use in getting to grips with the niceties of this phrase:

Main Entry: prance
Pronunciation: \ˈpran(t)s\
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): pranced; pranc·ing
Etymology: Middle English prauncen
Date: 14th century
intransitive verb
1 : to spring from the hind legs or move by so doing
2 : to ride on a prancing horse
3 : to walk or move in a spirited manner : strut; also : to dance about
transitive verb
: to cause (a horse) to prance


As you see, "prancing" does capture both the direct and the more suggestive meaning of "rampante", i.e.:

- moving by springing from the hind legs

- strutting with pride, which is certainly implied by the Ferrari-logo and the word "rampante"

Moreover, the fact that it is a Middle English word (of 14th century origins apparently) dovetails nicely with the heraldic context "rampante" normally appears in.

All in all, "prancing" appears to be simply a more elegant English alternative for "rampante" than the deceivingly similar looking yet subtly less rich "rampant".
.

A horse is a horse, of course, of course, and no one can talk to a horse of course. That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mister F.

Last edited by IPF; 11-17-2009 at 01:49 PM.
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post #5 of 15 Old 11-17-2009, 07:22 PM
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Personally I prefer rampant Horse rather than prancing Horse, sounds to me like this guy came up with that saying
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post #6 of 15 Old 11-18-2009, 12:36 AM Thread Starter
 
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IPF: I didn't intend this to be a linguistic discussion but if you want to go into definitions (and Merriam Webster is fine and very similar to the Shorter Oxford that I had looked at) then the use of the term 'prancing' clearly implies a way of a horse moving ('spring' and 'move' are they key words in the definition). But the cavallino rampante is neither springing nor moving forward; horses don't move by rearing up at 45 degrees on their hind legs - it's something that they naturally do when startled and also can be learned for performance purposes. Look for example at this picture of the Menorcan Jaleo:



If the term 'prancing' is now used to describe this action, I think it is entirely due to the Ferrari usage.

Night Life: I agree completely but didn't want to be politically incorrect about it! Just suppose that this was a brand new logo that Ferrari had invented today: does anybody really think it would be given the name "prancing horse"?
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post #7 of 15 Old 11-18-2009, 02:55 AM
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This is an eye opening, funny, and good thread. The thought of strong wild mustangs going all out with top speed running across the Montana plains isn't an image immediately connected with the word, "prancing." So where did that terminology get sidetracked?

With BMW's logo, it was an advertising campaign in the 40s that stated it was a rotating propeller, when in fact it wasn't any such thing. Perhaps it was an advertising agency doing the same thing for Ferrari?
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post #8 of 15 Old 11-18-2009, 02:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jepsonclough View Post
IPF: I didn't intend this to be a linguistic discussion

Night Life: I agree completely but didn't want to be politically incorrect about it!
Hold your horses! Neither did I, just ruminated about it, quickly looked it up and tried to make some sense out of what I read (and absolutely no pissing contest on dictionaries used intended either )

But, since you raise it (45 degrees or more), I'm now fascinated by your 'chicken & egg' reversal suggestion of the meaning of this ancient word. The clout of the Ferrari logo would be quite impressive indeed if you're right!

Finally, all this grandiose language does bring to mind the type of character in Nightlife's pic. I'm not that well versed in pompous asses, but is this Liberace?
.

A horse is a horse, of course, of course, and no one can talk to a horse of course. That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mister F.
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post #9 of 15 Old 11-18-2009, 04:57 AM
 
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Well I'm not 100% sure of the answer, but my thought would be because of the position of the rear legs of the horse. The ''pransing'' horse on the Ferrari badge has 1 foot on the ground and the other is raised off the ground. Unlike the pransing horse found on the Porsche badge where both feet are on the ground.

Enzo changed the colour of the pransing horse from red which was on fighter pilot Francesco's WWI plane to black, and the horse on the plane had both back legs on the ground, where as Ferrari's doesn't. So maybe with this change it is known as cavallino rampante because of the history, as well as pransing horse because of what it looks like since Enzo made the changes to it when encorporating the pransing horse for use for his company logo.
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post #10 of 15 Old 11-18-2009, 07:12 AM
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Prancing is an equestrian term used for dressage manoevres. The world famous Lipizzaner Stallions perform prancing as part of their balletic routine http://www.lipizzaner.com/home.asp
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post #11 of 15 Old 11-18-2009, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by iainuk View Post
Prancing is an equestrian term used for dressage manoevres. The world famous Lipizzaner Stallions perform prancing as part of their balletic routine http://www.lipizzaner.com/home.asp
Absolutely correct! I had forgotten about this, yet saw the Lipizzaner Stallions perform about a year ago. In the program, the announcer stated that as these muscular horses leap in the air, they do so in battle (stronger and mightier than any other horse) to give advantage to both rider and horse working as one. I may upload a picture soon.

As for the gentlemen in the picture, it is indeed Liberace. As I remember, he was flamboyant, definitely gay, but not a pompous ass. He just liked to "do it up" more than anyone else, but he wasn't offensive and literally became an entertainer who played the piano as well as the best.
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post #12 of 15 Old 11-18-2009, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Neonzapper View Post
Absolutely correct! I had forgotten about this, yet saw the Lipizzaner Stallions perform about a year ago. In the program, the announcer stated that as these muscular horses leap in the air, they do so in battle (stronger and mightier than any other horse) to give advantage to both rider and horse working as one. I may upload a picture soon.

As for the gentlemen in the picture, it is indeed Liberace. As I remember, he was flamboyant, definitely gay, but not a pompous ass. He just liked to "do it up" more than anyone else, but he wasn't offensive and literally became an entertainer who played the piano as well as the best.
Stronger and mightier than any other horse, due to the prancing, right? So then the term might actually be quite accurate to describe the Ferrari spirit after all...

Do forgive me the 'ass' part, that was careless of me and might convey a negative connotation that Liberace indeed doesn't deserve. Pomp, yes, and flamboyance and showmanship as well. Gay or no, he sure was grandiose (which was my original association, remember) and that takes guts in an age of mediocrity.
.

A horse is a horse, of course, of course, and no one can talk to a horse of course. That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mister F.

Last edited by IPF; 11-18-2009 at 02:09 PM.
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post #13 of 15 Old 11-18-2009, 03:42 PM
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IPF you're probably right, but where did the term "prancing" (for Ferrari) actually originate? I have to agree with Duncan's statement, "If the term 'prancing' is now used to describe this action, I think it is entirely due to the Ferrari usage." As far as I know, no other entity uses it as much as Ferrari.

As for Liberace, yours and Night Life's original association (grandiose) was right on the money, and appropriate for the meaning of the word "prancing" as it is interpreted today.

Last edited by Neonzapper; 11-18-2009 at 03:48 PM.
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post #14 of 15 Old 11-18-2009, 08:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IPF View Post
I'm not that well versed in pompous asses, but is this Liberace?
.
YES, yes it is, in all his self absorbed, narcissistic, neurotic splendor

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post #15 of 15 Old 11-19-2009, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Night Life View Post
YES, yes it is, in all his self absorbed, narcissistic, neurotic splendor
I thought as much.

Well, whether you like him or not, you've got to admire the guy for being something else altogether!

PS:
Reading up on L. out of sheer revived curiosity, I just found out he had quite the car collection: no Ferrari's as far as I could ascertain, but certainly lots of other prancing horsepowers ...
.
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A horse is a horse, of course, of course, and no one can talk to a horse of course. That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mister F.

Last edited by IPF; 11-19-2009 at 01:30 PM. Reason: Added PS + pics
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