Monday, October 12, 2009

English and American toilet humour

The English don't pee. They 'spend a penny', 'answer the call', 'wash their hands' or simply 'go'. 'Peeing' just won't do. It's just not posh enough.

But what's interesting here is that the place that they go do that is surprisingly mundane. You would expect that with all those posh sounding words, the English would choose something other than the good o' toilet. But the toilet it is.

I overheard someone speaking over the phone to his friend, who was presumably an American, about toilets. I have absolutely no idea about how it came to that but it went something like this.

"You know, we don't do bathrooms (pronounced as 'bethroom') over here. We answer the call in our toilets and bathe in our bathrooms (pronounced as 'barthroom')", the Londoner exclaimed to his companion.

I had this chat with a pal who came over to London recently after having staying in the US for some time. She was recounting how she went to a local cafe and asked whether they have a 'bathroom' in the premises. The waiter gave her a puzzled look and shook his head. She must have realised how strange it might have appeared to the waiter to be asked for a place to take a bath. When asked about the 'toilet', the waiter quickly pointed it out to her.

I wonder how an American would react when asked where the toilet is. The answer might just be "It's in the bathroom."

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FĂ«anor said...

The Americans I knew all said 'restroom' for 'toilet'. I don't recall the 'bathroom'-for-'toilet' usage in the States. Maybe I wasn't paying attention.

C K said...

I heard that as well... who says "washroom" then? :)

ice bar london said...

I don't think that waiter was English then. I have never known an Englishman who didn't know that bathroom also meant toilet!

By the way, the official name is a W.C. or water closet. Sometimes you hear that said but it is very rare these days. The english language is ever changing.

C K said...

@ice bar london,
Water closet, bathroom, washroom, toilet, gents (or ladies), or simply the loo. Did I miss anything else?