OT:Heard on American Dad: daughter Hayley singing a song about...

ronbutters at AOL.COM ronbutters at AOL.COM
Tue Apr 6 15:31:43 UTC 2010

I was taught "WC" In my first semester of French at University of Iowa. I would never have said "Salle de bains." Nu at home I would never have said anything other than "bathroom"--"toilet" was reserved for the appliance itself. Since the toilet was always located in the bathroom, at least in middle-class homes, actually naming the appliance rather than the room always struck me as a little vulgar. I'm not aware that anyone ever "told" me that (unlike Wilson, my peculiar prejudices sometimes arise on their own).

I have noticed than many speakers in the upper midwest emulate Canadians and say "washroom" even when their primary goal is not to wash up.

In Mexico I usually ask for "Los servicios"--that seems to work, though "baños" seems very common (the Mexicans obviously do not emulate the French, nor so they have Wilson's granny to tell them what word to use for what my grandfather loved to call the "crapper" and my sailor daddy the "head.") Grandpa thought "crapper" rather elegant (compared to the "shithouse" of his youth, which I reckon his ma tried to get him to call the "backhouse." In those days before indoor plumbing there was no bathroom. People bathed once a week in a tub in the kitchen, amd went putside to excrete.
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-----Original Message-----
From: Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
Date:         Tue, 6 Apr 2010 09:57:39
Subject:      Re: [ADS-L] OT:Heard on American Dad: daughter Hayley singing a

At 9:21 AM +0100 4/6/10, Robin Hamilton wrote:
>>She has my sympathy. I found out that there's a major problem involved
>>in asking - in English! - for the location of the bathroom, even among
>>Dutch people who have lived in the States long enough to have earned
>>American doctorates.
>Ha!  Now when *I* was at school -- high school, that is -- in the late
>fifties, I was told quite firmly that one only referred to the bathroom when
>wishing completely to cleanse the body in a tub.  The room where one went to
>perform other bodily functions, containing only a water closet and a wash
>hand basin, was a toilet [sic], though Nancy Mitford, in "U and non-U",
>might, while scouting the term 'loo', have begged to differ.

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").  I've
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"), and
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.

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



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

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

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