October 11, 2022

The Volkswagen Beetle Car Game

The long-awaited results of the Name That Car Game survey are here! I had to throw out some results that did not appear to have valid postal codes or that left the postal code blank. (Unfortunately, due to the original wording of the survey, some people who weren’t familiar with the game answered “N/A” or something similar on the postal code field. Oops.) In several cases I had to manually enter in the name of the city when Google Maps wouldn’t cooperate.

I was hoping to see a clear geographic distribution, and it appears that we have one: In the US, punch buggy and punch bug are most common on the East Coast, in the South (not including Texas), and in Hawaii. There are some scattered instances of punch buggy/punch bug across the West, including a cluster around the Bay Area. Slug bug is most common everywhere else, though some parts of the Midwest are a little mixed. There’s also a handful of results for other names, including beetle bop/beeter bop, slug-a-bug, love bug, and peewee slug. A couple of results might be referring to different games, like perdiddle (apparently a game where you spot cars with one headlight out) and I spy.

click to embiggen

Outside of the US, the prevailing forms are punch buggy and punch bug. There’s one instance of slug bug in Ontario, one of coccinelle (French for “ladybug”) in Quebec (showing that the game has crossed the language barrier!), and one of punch Herbie in the UK. All the other results outside of the US are for punch buggy/punch bug.

A few of the respondents in the US and Canada were unfamiliar with the game, but there doesn’t appear to be any pattern to where they’re from. More people outside of North America seem to be unfamiliar with the game, though of course it’s hard to draw any meaningful conclusions from an informal survey with a small sample size.

Have fun exploring the map! And if you participated, thanks for your help!

Sociolinguistics, Varieties of English One Reply to “The Volkswagen Beetle Car Game”
Jonathon Owen
Jonathon Owen


One comment on “The Volkswagen Beetle Car Game

    Author’s gravatar

    Never heard of this game before – but here in Europe, VW Beetles used to be everywhere so it was probably easier to spot cars that weren’t Beetles. “Coccinelle” is what the French call the VW Beetle because it looks like a ladybird/ladybug so that figures for Quebec. (And why do we call those little beetles ladybirds in the UK? The US name ladybug makes much more sense.)

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