George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Wed Jul 15 17:22:53 UTC 2009

I myself don't connect urchins with nautical themes.
I've heard it, used it, maybe, as a teasing word for a little kid; since I wasn't around in 1556, I don't remember when it was a hip new meaning of the old word for hedgehog.
5. a. A little fellow; a boy or youngster; a child or infant.

I only hope that the ferry-folk didn't have in mind OED's sense 5c
c. transf. An offspring of hell, etc. Obs. rare.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.

----- Original Message -----
From: Amy West <medievalist at W-STS.COM>
Date: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 11:42 am
Subject: Re: urchin

> Maybe they chose "urchin" to go along with the nautical theme on the
> ferry? (Personally, I like it.)
> ---Amy West
> >Date:    Tue, 14 Jul 2009 01:04:29 -0500
> >From:    Clai Rice <cxr1086 at LOUISIANA.EDU>
> >Subject: urchin
> >
> >This evening I purchased a few ferry tickets from Vancouver
> >Island to Mayne Island, B.C. The tickets were identical,
> >though the child tickets were half fare. The tickets were
> >labeled both "Adult" and "Urchin", with the former term
> >above the latter but both in the same size font. Considering
> >the function of the tickets, and the positioning of the
> >words, we figured that the word "urchin" meant "child." Is
> >this a standard Canadianism?  The other option is that they
> >label the tickets each day with an unusual word as a
> >counterfeit prevention, which wouldn't be nearly as much
> >fun.  To my surprise, the ticket collector insisted on
> >taking the entire ticket, so I couldn't keep a copy. But now
> >I'm thinking of going back to Victoria later in the week, so
> >I'll be able to  check the tickets and ask the agents if
> >they think urchin means child.
> >
> >Not that my children aren't urchins.
> >
> >Clai Rice
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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