Saturday, 30 June 2012

Do Not Stand in the Hatched Area

I saw the sign on East Croydon station a couple of weeks ago, above an area painted in yellow criss-cross lines, next to a building site. “Do not stand on hatched area.”

I nearly stood on this hatched area:

Pyrrhocoris apterus, Fire bugs, emerging, 15 June 2012

English. A language designed to confuse. How can “hatch” refer to a pattern of parallel lines, an animal emerging from an egg (and, as a noun, to a small trapdoor, normally in a boat?)*

*Answer: because English is language soup. Hatch, as in egg, comes from Swedish häcka - that's our Viking forebears. Hatch, as in crossing lines, comes from the French hacher - that would be the Normans. And hatch, as in a small door, comes from Middle Low German  heck (it says here in my Oxford Dictionary) - so thanks to the Anglo-Saxons. 

"Don't stand on the hatched lines when you climb through the hatch to the hatchery." Easy, really.

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