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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

No Salga Afuera

I used to know a Puerto Rican woman who roared when I used to demonstrate my limited command of the Spanish language, defined by the NYC experience. My favorite was the recitation of a sign which appeared in the subway cars for as long as I can remember. I used to just recite two lines:
"La via del tren subterraneo es peligrosa. .... No salga afuera." This warning alerted passengers to many dangers, including the the electrified third rail. See full wording and translation below.
My other favorite sign was one I frequently saw in parks: "Aviso. Veneno de Rata." (Danger. Rat poison). Now I realize that this knowledge will not get me far in conversation in a Spanish speaking country, nor will it help me charm a Latin American, but in New York City, it may be useful in avoiding premature death in certain situations.
Every living environment has an effect on its inhabitants and in New York City that environment is one that has an element of brutality. New York is a great city and has improved markedly over the years, but this is a harsh place and breeds cynicism, skepticism and cautiousness. Survival skills. And one of the results is a rather unusual foreign language vocabulary.

The photo shows the current signage on subway doors. Many New Yorkers, including myself, have frequently walked between cars to position oneself at the proper end of the train so that you are in the best location when exiting (most doors are locked these days). The experience of walking between cars of a moving subway is not for the faint of heart, but it does make good use of travel time, admittedly at the risk of being killed. But, hey, that's just makes you feel like a real fearless New Yorker. But I am not recommending this behavior - this posting is for informational purposes only. Just remember, "La via del tren subterraneo es pelgrosa" !

Note: The original sign in its entirety with translation is as follows:
"La via del tren subterraneo es peligrosa. Si el tren se para entre las estaciones, quedese adentro. No salga afuera. Siga los instrucciones de los operadores del tren o la policia."
"The subway route is dangerous. If the trains stops between stations, do not go outside. Remain inside! Follow the instructions from the operators or the police."

2 comments:

Mary said...

On the fence at the construction site that is Washington Square Park these days, the signs warning of pesticide use are carefully posted -- with the English language side facing inside and the Spanish language side facing the public -- ON ALL OF THEM!

Mab said...

Hi,I like your blog a lot,it just makes sense. Im sure that if I ever came to NYC I wouldn't make it through the day lol. I'd either be mugged shot or end up under a yellow cab :), how do people manage the pace of life in the city?
Mab :)