Alight, Abright

Attention passengers, due to work on the tracks, we will not be stopping at the Morse or Jarvis stops. If you wish to get off at either of those stops, alight the train at Howard, and take the southbound Red Line train.

I heard this announcement for the second time today. They’re doing a bunch of track work on the northbound side of the line of the el that I take to get, well, pretty much anywhere other than Evanston, and to get to two stops, you have to get off at a third stop, then take the train going in the opposite direction to get off at your stop.

The weird thing I see here is the term alight. I was unaware that anyone actually had actually used this term anytime since 1946, at least in the United States, and not outside of a book.

There is no reason I can find for the use of “alight the train” instead of “get off the train,” “exit the train,” or even “dismount the train,” though the latter is clearly most acceptable if you plan to backflip off the train.

There is really no use for this word in the context of the Chicago Transit Authority. Even the definition linked to above states that alight means:

“2. To set down, as from a vehicle; dismount: The queen alighted from the carriage.

The queen may still alight (albeit from a Rolls Royce), but the drunks on the el trying to get back to the liquor store at Jarvis get off the train.

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