escalator, n.m. [εskalatoR]
« escalier mécanique» • “electric staircase”
This word, is actually a trade name created in the US in the early 20th century from escalade ‘climb a wall by ladder’ [an English word which, by the way, comes from French < Latin] on the pattern of elevator. [Source: Concise Oxford English Dictionary – (The World’s Most Trusted Dictionaries)].
In French this word exists in the same written form with the same sense as in English, but obviously with a phonetic adaptation. Unfortunately the TLFi has not yet consecrated an article to the word escalator, but we do find a contextual example of its use in French in the article escalier. According to « Le Grand Robert de la langue française » the word was attested for the first time in French in 1948. Unfortunately they don’t cite their sources like the Oxford or the TLF, so this information would be time consuming to attempt to confirm. The one thing common to the 2 French dictionaries, is their citation, I thought it was pretty interesting:
Lui : L’amour me fait presque toujours penser aux escalators des grands magasins : l’un monte pendant que l’autre, parallèle, descend. Moi : Les escalators se croisent à mi-hauteur (J. DUTOURD, Les Horreurs de l’amour, Paris, Gallimard, 1963, p. 518)
Him: Love almost always makes me think about escalators in department stores : one is going up while the other, parallel, is coming down. Me: The escalators pass each other in the middle (from a work entitled « The Horrors of Love »).
Ode to an escalator
Oh, escalators. I used to love them so much when I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to get somewhere that had an escalator, so I could have some real fun. I would run down the up going stairs, up the down going stairs, lose a shoe and have to be carried. I would do parallel bars with just the hand rails and be pulled away. Sometimes I would even get at the bottom in the middle of an up going escalator and a down going escalator, hang on to the arm rests and test how far my arms could be stretched apart before being ripped from the sockets, (it was actually my clothes that ended up being ripped apart in that experiement before my arms were put to the test).
So having all of these great childhood memories of fun and thrilling escalator experiences, I thought getting around Paris and encountering escalators on a daily basis would be cool. Even though the magic which escalators once contained for me has vanished with age, I still think they are pretty neat - except in certain cases.
Bad escalator etiquette
The worst thing ever:
The terminal stopper. When someone gets to the end and then just stands there without getting out of the way. Seriously. You may think, « No big deal, just deal with it ». Well, easier said than done (plus facile à dire qu’à faire), especially when you almost knock them over ‘cuz you are being propelled into them. Come on Stoppy McStopperson, je te dis, « bouge de là » (get outta the way).
Another rude escalator behavior:
The pass blocker. This person is one of 2 people: the person that stands next to someone without passing, and the person that is just taking up too much space and is blocking the fast lane, preventing you from passing. This message is for you guys: take a step back. If you just leave one extra stair in front of you, you can put the long part of your protruding obstacle (briefcase, extra sacs etc.) in front of you instead of to your side. This works for you too, Chatty McChatterson, if you need to be conversing with some the length of an escalator ride, just stand in a parallel line on the stair above them and turn around. (Il faut juste être aware de la fin pour ne pas tomber. [You just need to be aware of the end so as not to fall.])
Well, obviously these aren’t the only bad escalator manners I’ve encountered, (there is also wrong lane guy – we are not in England here, stand on the right and pass on the left); but I think you get the idea. Here’s hoping to seeing better manners