toilet talk

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Tue Jun 6 20:56:07 UTC 2000

Good point. I would ignore the person in the next stall. My *interpretation*
would be that he was asking for a newspaper. If it were the dorm, I would
hand over the sports section.

I would probably assume that the person in the stall next to me *heard* me
turning the paper.

Benjamin Barrett
gogaku at

BTW, when I said "non-English," I meant non-native.

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf Of
RonButters at AOL.COM

Well, gee, my sense is that men in adjoining stalls do not ask each other
ANYTHING unless absolutely necessary--that there is a sort of taboo against
speaking to strangers in public toilets (let alone making requests for
reading material!). If somebody asked me, "Do you have the newspaper over
there?" I would be stunned. Why would he think I had "the" newspaper in a
public toilet?

I grant you, if this were, say, a dormitory, where the inhabitants were more
or less known to each other, that would be a different matter. But I said
"strangers" and "public" toilet.

In a message dated 6/6/2000 11:18:03 AM, gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM writes:

<< Although I agree with the thrust of your point, if someone in the next
stall to ask me if I had the paper, I would assume he wanted the newspaper
and I
would hand him the sports section because I never read that part. If he had
a non-English accent, I might reply with, "Do you mean toilet paper?"

To me, asking, "Do you have any paper" requires "over there?" for it to be
understood as toilet paper. >>

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