The loo &c.

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Tue Apr 6 14:32:49 UTC 2010

At 4/6/2010 09:57 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>This was my experience when I first arrived in
>Paris with my several years of high school and
>college French under my belt and reduced some
>uniformed guy in the Métro to tears by asking
>politely "Où est la salle de bain?"  "Salle de
>bain dans le Métro????!!!   Hunh hunh hunh!!!!"
>It should, of course, have been either "la
>toilette" or "le WC" ("Doobluh-vay-say").

Now if you'd asked for la Zazie dans le Metro ...

>always assumed "bathroom" is OK within a house
>*or* a public place (although in the latter, one
>might go with "men's/women's/ladies' room"),

Hasn't the latter become the standard term of
delicacy in places of public accommodation?

>then there's always "the john", at least in the
>parts of the U.S. I've lived in.  But you have to
>know how to ask indirectly:  "Do you have a
>bathroom?" is OK in a restaurant but not so much
>in a private house.

Hah!  Perhaps asked in the 18th century, when one
was trying to determine one's host's place in the class pecking order?
But instead of "do you have ..." one might ask
"may I use your bathroom?"  However, probably not
"may I use your toilet?"  Too vivid.

>>(I believe such places are referred to in USAmerica as rest stops or places
>>of little ease.

I wouldn't just "go" any place in a "rest
stop".  They too have men's and women's rooms for
the requisite functions.  And I can't recall ever
hearing "place of little ease".


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