chapter  4
11 Pages

Word-Stories: Etymology as History

ByCHRISTOPHER HUTTON

In 1969, Donald and Doris Fisher opened a store in San Francisco that would, in the words of Eric Schlosser in Fast Food Nation, ‘sell blue jeans the way McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC sell food’ (2001: 97). In thinking about a name for the store, and in the spirit of the counter-culture of the day, they decided to honour the Vietnamese general and victor of Dien Bien Phu, General Vo Nguyen Giap – and the GAP was born. An alternative account might run as follows. In 1969 the Fishers named their store the GAP, which stood for ‘groovy and practical clothing’, GAP. Or what of this version? In 1969 teenagers were rebelling against the older generation and the clothing store was named to reflect that: GAP derives from ‘generation gap’.