Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Safety precaution, Southwark

What does the central character of Prosper Mérimée's novella Carmen have to do with this safety notice painted on a warehouse in Southwark? This puzzled me for a second before I realised there were actually two words: 'car' and 'men'. But why did they stick them together? Or was this notice put especially for an employee called Carmen who got injured time after time by falling cases?

Safety Precaution
Stand Clear When
Cases Are Going Up

Update: following JBS's comments, I have updated the transcription of the notice above as it is now almost certain there aren't two but one word: "Carmen." See the comments for more information.

Location: Glasshill Street / Picture taken on: 16/07/2009


JBS said...

I think that 'carmen' is/was probably a valid term on the order of 'brakeman' and 'workmen'.
I wonder if any carmen were injured by case-elevators while reading the notice. By noticing the reading?

Sebastien Ardouin said...

Thanks JBS. I must admit it had completely escaped me "carman(men)" could refer to what the OED defines as "a driver of a van or cart; a carrier." It is precised it is dated. It would be interesting to know when "carman" became obsolete as the building the notice is painted on isn't that old.

JBS said...

Small businesses hang on to terminology long after it passes from popular speech.
Three from my world are sawyer, pronounced soyer, a lot like lawyer, lathe, pronounced lay, and kiln, pronounced kill.

These axamples differ from your written-one, but remind me of it.
There is a group on the web, "WORDWIZARDS"(clubhouse) who will be able to tell you about when "carman" became obsolete. They're great.

Sebastien Ardouin said...

I shall have a look at Wordwizards. Thanks a lot!

JBS said...

You're welcome!
GO here

JBS said...

and especially here:

Arnold Brame said...

It confuses me too. "Carmen" should have been "Car Men", as I previously thought it should be. Anyways. Thank you for the information.

Best Regards,
Arnold Brame
Health And Safety Consultant Peterborough