(A quick post until I have time to write something longer)
Lately I’ve been thinking about Tube lingo. I’m getting used to it now, but every once in awhile it’ll still get me. “Mind the gap” is the classic example that has worked its way into pop culture so much that it appears in dental hygiene ads (better use your mouthwash or else you’ll get gum disease and have a gaping hole in your smile!) But there’s some other phrases I find peculiar — like the use of “terminate.” Instead of saying “This is a train to Queen’s Park,” like they would on the El in Chicago, they say “This train terminates at Queen’s Park.” Maybe it’s because I recently saw “Source Code,” but every time I hear that I think I better get off soon before the train explodes at Queen’s Park. Thanks for ruining the word “terminate,” Arnold.
Another weird word is “alight.” Have you ever heard anyone use this word? Do you know what it means? I answered no and no until I looked it up. It means “to descend from a train, bus or other form of transportation.” Obvious. They say, “Alight here for Heathrow terminal 3.” Why not just say “exit,” or one of my favorite travel words, “disembark?”
Every time I ride the Bakerloo line and near the Regent’s Park stop, the recorded voice says something I can’t comprehend followed by “London Zoo.” “Exit (and she does say exit, not alight, strangely) here for ajfjdsfadsf, London Zoo.” I listened extra close yesterday and finally got it — she says ZSL, which stands for The Zoological Society of London. But she doesn’t say “zee,” she says “zed.” I’ve seen “zed” written, but never spoken, and it made me laugh. It sounds so silly. Then again, I bet they think we sound silly with our “zees” and “ZEEbras.” How did we end up with different names for the same letter?