public convenience

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public convenience

Post by hsargent » Thu Mar 02, 2006 2:55 pm

I checked the achieves and was surprised there has been no collection of international terms for:

Public convenience, restroom, bathroom, loo, toilet, head, lavatory, privy, men's room, lady's room.

Are there more that are regional and can be used in mixed company?
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public convenience

Post by Bobinwales » Thu Mar 02, 2006 4:48 pm

Gents.
ladies
lav,
bog,
plumbing,
little boys' room
little girls'room
ty bach ("tee-bach, literally “little house” in Welsh, but not uncommonly heard from non Welsh speakers), sh/t house of course (in two senses of the word! and depending on how mixed the company).
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public convenience

Post by kagriffy » Thu Mar 02, 2006 8:21 pm

Although in downstate Illinois, we usually refer to "restrooms," Chicagoans almost exclusively use the term "washrooms." In fact, the directional signs at Chicago's Union Station all use "washrooms."
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public convenience

Post by Shelley » Fri Mar 03, 2006 3:21 am

Two of my favorites: The Pissoir and The Euphemism. Oh, and then there's the "vay say".
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public convenience

Post by hsargent » Fri Mar 03, 2006 3:28 am

I forgot the John and Crapper. I have been told John Crapper invented the flush toilet.
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public convenience

Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri Mar 03, 2006 4:50 am

Harry, I'm afraid the [Thomas] Crapper story is completely bogus. The following account is taken from Snopes.com, the website that is painstakingly devoted to dissecting urban myths, folk etymologies and the like, at http://www.snopes.com/business/names/crapper.asp :

Claim: The flush toilet was invented by Thomas Crapper

Status: False.

Origins: Thomas Crapper is an elusive figure: Most people familiar with his name know him as a celebrated figure in Victorian England, an ingenious plumber who invented the modern flush toilet; others believe him to be nothing more than a hoax, the whimsical creation of a satirical writer. The truth lies somewhere inbetween.

Much of the confusion stems from a 1969 book by Wallace Reyburn, Flushed with Pride: The Story of Thomas Crapper. Reyburn's "biography" of Crapper has often been dismissed as a complete fabrication, as some of his other works (most notably Bust-Up: The Uplifting Tale of Otto Titzling and the Development of the Bra) are obvious satirical fiction. Although Flushed with Pride is, like Bust-Up, a tongue-in-cheek work full of puns, jokes, and exaggerations, Reyburn did not invent the person of Thomas Crapper as he did Otto Titzling. In Flushed with Pride, Reyburn's satire rests on the framework of a real man's life. Thomas Crapper was not, as Reyburn wrote, the inventor of the flush toilet, a master plumber by appointment to the royals who was knighted by Queen Victoria, or an important figure whose achievements were written up in the Encyclopedia Britannica, and one searches in vain for evidence that contemporary authorities took any notice of Thomas Crapper, for mention of him in biographical dictionaries, or for his obituary notice in the London Times. But although Thomas Crapper may not have been a man of importance to his contemporaries, he was indeed a real person, a sanitary engineer in 19th century London who ran his own plumbing concern, who took out several patents on plumbing-related devices, and whose name can still be spotted on manhole covers around London.

Although Thomas Crapper took out nine plumbing patents between 1881 and 1896, none of these patents was for the "valveless water-waste preventer" he is often credited with having invented. The first patent for a siphonic flush was taken out by Joseph Adamson in 1853, eight years before Crapper started his plumbing business. Many types of siphonic systems were patented in the 1880s, but none by a Crapper until George Crapper, Thomas' nephew, was awarded an 1897 patent for "improvements in or relating to automatic syphon flushing tanks." Crapper may have sold or installed water closets, but he didn't have much to do with their development. Alexander Cummings is generally credited with inventing the first flush mechanism in 1775 (more than 50 years before Crapper was born), and plumbers Joseph Bramah and Thomas Twyford further developed the technology with improvements such as the float-and-valve system. Thomas Crapper, said an article in Plumbing and Mechanical Magazine, "should best be remembered as a merchant of plumbing products, a terrific salesman and advertising genius."

A related legend has it that U.S. soldiers stationed in England during World War I (some of whom had little or no experience with indoor plumbing) saw toilets marked with the name 'CRAPPER' and brought the word home as a synonym for 'toilet' or 'bathroom.' Although the word 'crap' (used in a scatological sense) antedates Thomas Crapper and is therefore not derived from his name, the origins of 'crapper' as a synonym for 'toilet' are unknown, other than that it is a particularly American term whose earliest print citings come from the 1930s.
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public convenience

Post by hsargent » Fri Mar 03, 2006 2:13 pm

Thank you Erik for the correction. I'm glad that there was the WW I source that may explain the American folk legend.

Now, how did we get the term John?
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Post by JANE DOErell » Fri Mar 03, 2006 7:16 pm

In the US military about 1960 it was more or less officially a latrine
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public convenience

Post by Andrew Dalby » Fri Mar 03, 2006 8:01 pm

In a French bar, the usual way to ask where it is, is 'Ou sont les toilettes?' Always plural, 'Where are the toilets/restrooms?' Goodness knows why. Unless it's a pretty swanky bar, there will only be one.

In pubs in the West of England, you may occasionally see a room labelled 'Yer tiz'. If so, you've found it. That's the local pronunciation of 'Here it is'.
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public convenience

Post by Wizard of Oz » Sat Mar 04, 2006 3:45 am

.. dunny and longdrop are two Aussie terms that spring to mind ..

.. the word dunny can refer to the actual toilet building as well as the actual pedestal .. it seems to have derived from the English word dunnykin which in typical Aussie fashion has been contracted .. a colourful Aussie curse goes, May your chooks turn into emus and kick your dunny down!

.. the word longdrop refers specifically to a country outhouse where there is no plumbing and the pan is placed over a deep hole, hence a long drop ..

.. other than that, all the above terms are generally used in Aus .. but can somebody suggest why Americans refer to a toilet as a restroom or a washroom ?? .. is it just an affected euphenism ?? or does it refer back to the days when "Ladies" did retire to perform those unmentionable bodily functions ?? .. and how come a washroom isn't a bathroom ?? .. oooops but that is another Americanism for toilet .. the bathroom .. why do Americans relieve themselves in the bath ??

WoZ of Aus 04/03/06

WoZ of Aus 04/03/06
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Post by Edwin Ashworth » Sat Mar 04, 2006 2:25 pm

It was long after 1066 that British Intelligence made great strides towards cracking the Irish Question by bugging the khazis.
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public convenience

Post by hsargent » Tue Mar 07, 2006 2:48 am

Dunny and Longdrop are really new to we Americans. Also Khazis.

We do have Pit toilets and Outhouses.

The Restroom and Bathroom terms for public facilities are bizzare.
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Post by Spearmint » Tue Mar 07, 2006 2:57 am

I stopped saying bathroom and started using restroom a long time ago. Now I'm wondering why I say restroom.

I don't know about others, but when I hear someone say, "I'm going to use the toilet," I automatically think about the commode and what happens there. Could be just me.
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public convenience

Post by haro » Wed Mar 08, 2006 12:09 am

If I got it right, in British English an outhouse just means any kind of a smaller building that belongs to a house, for instance a tool shed, whereas in American English it almost invariably means a privy (according to Merriam-Webster Online "a) a small building having a bench with holes through which the user may defecate or urinate.").

The doors of American outhouses usually have a crescent moon cut-out, European ones, at least those on the mainland, have a heart-shaped cut-out. Anyone out there who knows why?

The American way of using "going to the bathroom" as a euphemism sometimes sounds a bit funny to us furrinners: "What if the dog has to go to the bathroom in the middle of the living room?"
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Post by Shelley » Wed Mar 08, 2006 12:58 am

haro, I've heard the term "outbuildings" in the U.S. to describe all the various smaller structures attached to a larger estate.
Also, with regard to the crescent moon carved into the outhouse door, I found the following at a site called "straightdope.com":
Level with me: you've never actually seen an outhouse with a half-moon cut into the door, have you? Neither have I, despite several decades of camping trips. I'll bet the same goes for just about everybody else. The idea that outhouses always have moons on them has been perpetuated largely by several generations of cartoonists (e.g., Al Capp), probably none of whom ever saw one either.
The only reference I can find to the practice is in Eric Sloane's The Little Red Schoolhouse: A Sketchbook of Early American Education. Discussing 18th- and 19th-century schoolhouses, Eric writes: "The woodshed was often a lean-to attached to the schoolhouse, but the most accepted arrangement was to place it between the schoolhouse and the privy, with a fence separating the boys' entrance from the girls'. The ancient designation of privy doors was to saw into them a sun (for boys' toilet) and a moon (for girls' toilet)." Eric has supplied a sketch of both versions, showing the familiar crescent moon for the girls and a radiant sun for the boys.
By way of corroboration, I note here in my manual of semiotics that the moon "is usually represented as the feminine power, the Mother Goddess, Queen of Heaven, with the sun as the masculine." Isn't that just great? All this time you thought you were in there just doing your business and now it turns out you were participating in a pagan ritual.
Why cartoonists picked up on the moon rather than the sun as the universal symbol for outhouse is hard to say. But knowing cartoonists I'd guess it has something to do with the fact that the radiant sun is hell to draw. The reason there's a hole in the first place is a lot simpler: it provides ventilation.

I've found another book, The Vanishing American Outhouse by Ronald S. Barlow (1989), that expands a bit on why you see (or saw) half moons on outhouse doors:
"Luna, the ancient crescent shaped figure, was a universal symbol for womankind. A moon, sawed into a privy door, served as the 'Ladies Room' sign of early innkeeping days. Sol, a sunburst pattern, was cut into the men's room side of the outhouse. These symbols were necessary because in Colonial times only a fraction of our population could read or write.
"As time passed by and frontiers were pushed further westward, the gentlemen's restrooms fell into disrepair and eventually were abandoned altogether. Accommodations for ladies were better maintained and this is why the moon symbol remains on many outhouse doors today. Its original meaning, however, was lost to the general population sometime in the mid 1800's." --CECIL ADAMS
The other sites I tried claimed there was no known origin for the symbol's presence, but Cecil Adams seems to have covered the topic pretty well. I'm not completely confident it's absolutely true, though.
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