or does anyone else find it astonishing that London Underground still says trains are being delayed by "a person under a train"

(87 Posts)
quesadilla Wed 17-Jul-13 11:33:49

OK so I know its a factually accurate way to describe the situation... but in this world where people are often so sensitive to things that could offend others and officialdom goes to such great lengths to use polite euphemism where possible, that a public suicide, with all the horror, misery and mess that involves, is described so graphically like that, publicly, to millions of people, seems really jarring to me.
It seems a little like having a receptionist at a GPs office shouting across a packed waiting room "are you ready for your abortion?" or something. Not saying its necessarily offensive, but I still find it jaw-dropping...Has anyone else noticed this or am I just being oversensitive?

quesadilla Wed 17-Jul-13 11:54:57

Again, I'm not saying I'm offended by it or think it shouldn't be used. I am just struck by how much it jars with the general desire to paper over things like this that one generally encounters. It just seems LU is one of the last corners of the corporate world not to have succumbed to vague language.

WafflyVersatile do you think its a euphemism? I find it pretty direct. Doesn't leave much to the imagination...

WafflyVersatile Wed 17-Jul-13 11:57:09

person under a train gives me an image of someone squeezed in the gulley hoping they're clear of the train rather than mangled limbs and blood splattered onlookers.

WafflyVersatile Wed 17-Jul-13 11:57:46

x post but I've pretty much answered it anyway.

MrsDoomsPatterson Wed 17-Jul-13 11:58:20

Life isn't all fluffy bunnikins is it. We're all adults, give the real reason.

Owllady Wed 17-Jul-13 11:59:53

I do know what you mean but I also agree with AnneEyhtMeyer too.

Did anyone watch the Rankin special on Saturday night wrt his Alive exhibition? It was really interesting and thought provoking (and sad obviously)

Shrugged Wed 17-Jul-13 12:01:34

I prefer the directness, if I'm honest. But then I loathe almost any kind of euphemism. I appreciate that people may want to say 'passed away' when they are talking about a recent, painful bereavement, but it drives me mad when people use it in general as a replacement for 'died' in non-personal situation eg 'when Queen Victoria passed away'.

I agree OP.

It's good to know that it's a serious delay but it's a bit gruesome. They could say 'passenger on the tracks' or something along those lines.

I don't find it offensive or anything, I just think it's strangely blunt.

yamsareyammy Wed 17-Jul-13 12:03:12

I think it could and should have different, softer words.
It may also be triggering to some people. It may also lead some people to "copy".

SalaciousBCrumb Wed 17-Jul-13 12:04:16

Passenger on the tracks - might not be a passenger

They also sometimes have to announce delays because there are trespassers on the tracks - means there will be a delay whilst they shoo them off, not that necessarily they've been hit by a train (so will be a lot longer delay)

I hate euphemisms for death. It irritated me when my DH's family referred to my mother as having passed on. She didn't pass anywhere, she died. Endov. Maybe it's because we don't witness or encounter death as often now, that we are curiously embarrassed or ashamed of it, and of grief.

I prefer the underground to be straight about what has happened when there's a suicide. Apart from anything else, they're making sure that we know it is a situation beyond their control. Also language is a factor (much like the "you do not have cancer" statement) - it is clear and concise, even if your English isn't great.

ifyourehoppyandyouknowit Wed 17-Jul-13 12:06:35

There is nothing else they could say:
- can't say a 'fatality' as not always fatal
- can't say someone jumped off a platform as they don't know this (they could have been pushed or fallen)
- Passenger on the tracks could mean that someone was just standing on the tracks not moving out of the way, which would probably cause substantially more annoyance than if the person was under a train.

Saying 'a person under a train' in the most factual way of saying it. Is there a soft way of saying it?

valiumredhead Wed 17-Jul-13 12:08:24

What waffly said, it already is a polite way of saying it.

WafflyVersatile Wed 17-Jul-13 12:08:32

'the horror, misery and mess that involves, is described so graphically'

It's hardly graphic.

graphic would be 'the service has been cancelled because a man/woman/child is being scraped off the front of a train while the driver rocks back and forth weeping on a bench'

valiumredhead Wed 17-Jul-13 12:18:20

Was just about to post be grateful it's not you dealing with the body! My Dh encountered a few suicides while working on the trains, it's not nice, he coped ok but the chap he was worth needed 6 months of work with counselling afterwards.

valiumredhead Wed 17-Jul-13 12:18:44

With not worth

anonacfr Wed 17-Jul-13 12:27:38

I thought it was a euphemism. It find strangely poetic (I know I'm odd).

When I opened the thread I thought you were going to say the exact opposite of what you did ie 'why make it so vague why not say someone fell on the tracks and died'.

badtime Wed 17-Jul-13 12:30:58


I think it is a good way of explaining it. It is accurate without being too informative (How injured is the 'person'? Did they jump? Fall? Were they pushed? Did they climb off the tracks themselves or are they being cleaned off with a high-pressure hose*?) If people started giving details in twee euphemistic language, I think it would be much more unpleasant. I find euphemisms about death and injury very creepy anyway.

And to the person who said it could be triggering, I will tell you from experience that literally anything can be triggering.

* I saw a documentary.

Kiriwawa Wed 17-Jul-13 12:35:22

There are many, many people who travel on the tube who don't speak great English, especially at this time of year. Person under a train is easy to understand. Fatality isn't.

I think it stops people getting too cross too - they understand why it's going to take a long time before they're able to return to normal service.

AmyFarrahFowlerCooper Wed 17-Jul-13 12:36:43

YANBU. I think they could have a more sensitive way of explaining it so that adults know what is happening but any children listening won't click on about the delay. It could even be a vague as "the train is delayed due to an incident on the line". An incident could be anything, yes, but that's enough information to explain a delay imo.

BearsInMotion Wed 17-Jul-13 12:41:25

Not so graphic as the train guard who marched through our carriage saying the train would be another hour late as, "We sent one train past and the passengers didn't like it, so they have to clean it up before we can go." sad

badtime Wed 17-Jul-13 12:44:07

AmyFarrah, the problem is that 'an incident on the line' sounds like a bullshit excuse. If people hear things like that, they get more annoyed and aggressive with Underground staff than if it is a clear reason beyond the control of the train operators.

Dfg15 Wed 17-Jul-13 12:44:22

I also dislike euphemisms for death - when I hear someone say 'so and so lost her husband' I always think 'that was very careless' can't help it, it just pops into my head. Why can't people just say someone has died.

CloudsAndTrees Wed 17-Jul-13 12:45:30

I think they say it like that to make it very clear that it isn't their fault. If they disc there was an incident, it could be anything, and people will want to know if London Underground are at fault or not.

I'd rather hear the truth, it puts your own inconvenience into perspective.

MidniteScribbler Wed 17-Jul-13 12:47:06

If there has been someone injured or killed, I imagine that whoever has to type or announce the message has probably got much bigger things on their mind than to sit debating the precise wording so as not to offend anyone.

Poogate Wed 17-Jul-13 12:47:20

I'm all for straight talking. And it stops me bitching about being late; I always just feel so sad for whoever decided that they would end their life that day by throwing themselves under a tube train. If the reason given is ambiguous, I may be tempted to feel irritated (ie. fault with the train, etc).

And as for the 'you do not have cancer' letter, isn't that exactly what one wants to know? confused

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