About This Site

Figaro rips the innards out of things people say and reveals the rhetorical tricks and pratfalls. For terms and definitions, click here.
(What are figures of speech?)
Ask Figaro a question!

This form does not yet contain any fields.

    « Good Thing God's a Republican | Main | It's Magic! »

    Throw Mr. Sand on the Fire

    Sandman_Large.jpgQuote:  “Would Ticket Inspector Sand report to the Control Room.” Announcement heard on the London subway system.
    Figure of Speech:  schematismus (skee-ma-TIS-mus), the figure of code words. From the Greek, meaning “configuration.”

    Mr. Sand gets around. Building managers traditionally invoke his name when there’s a fire, and he seems to serve the London Underground as well. This type of circumlocution, called schematismus in rhetoric, can help prevent a stampede of panicky patrons. Instead of yelling “Fire!” over the P.A. system, the manager calmly asks for Mr. Sand.

    The schematismus makes for one of the more enjoyable figures. There’s an old legend about schematisms in Pidgin, a potpourri of dialects spoken in the English colonies. The pidgin for elevator was “room go up belly down.” For piano it was “big black box hit him in teeth he cries.” Or so Figaro heard.

    We just pity anyone actually named Sand who wishes to become a ticket inspector.

    Snappy Answer: “And would everyone else please run screaming from the building.”

    PrintView Printer Friendly Version

    EmailEmail Article to Friend

    Reader Comments (7)

    Does "Code Adam" for a lost child count as a schematismus?
    November 26, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterEmily
    At my wife's hospital, the code for a fire alarm is "Doctor Blaze."
    November 27, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterEric
    In middle school, every two weeks the vice principle would announce, "the eagle has landed." We, us children, all knew that was code for our paychecks are here, which were well deserved.
    November 27, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMarco
    My high school used "there is a red Plymouth parked in the fire lane" to mean that there is reason to go into lock down mode--at least until Chrysler dropped the Plymouth line of cars.
    November 27, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterjmack
    if someone came on the speaker and said "Mrs. ____ you're coffee is ready" or something like that, it meant that we had to go into lockdown. Fortunately it was only used to practice.
    November 28, 2007 | Unregistered Commentermadammina
    What a pleasant way to announce an emergency, Madam! Emily, Code Adam would work only if the majority of the audience didn't know what it meant.

    November 29, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    many years ago (MANY...) when i was in training for my now career, the hospital i worked in would have the operator calmly ask on the overhead for, "mr. red? mr. red?, of course meaning the same as mr. sand.
    November 29, 2007 | Unregistered Commentern. selvaggi

    PostPost a New Comment

    Enter your information below to add a new comment.

    My response is on my own website »
    Author Email (optional):
    Author URL (optional):
    All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.