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Lavatorial euphemisms

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Cedric Catsuits
1183275.  Mon Mar 21, 2016 7:30 pm Reply with quote

I'm watching Series L: 3. Literature and Stephen states that there is no word for a toilet that isn't a euphemism. This is incorrect. Crapper is a trade name, not a euphemism.

I searched and found no mention of this in these blogs. Apologies if it's been covered.

 
dr.bob
1183318.  Tue Mar 22, 2016 5:37 am Reply with quote

"Crapper" is a euphemism in as much as it's a word that means something else (in this case, a trade name) that is used to describe an object.

Much like people use the trade name "Hoover" as a euphemism for "vacuum cleaner."

 
'yorz
1183320.  Tue Mar 22, 2016 5:57 am Reply with quote

Quote:
A euphemism is a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.
"The jargon has given us ‘downsizing’ as a euphemism for cuts"


Therefore, in my view 'Crapper' is not a euphemism. It's a synonym-ish. Nor is 'Hoover' a euphemism.

 
dr.bob
1183343.  Tue Mar 22, 2016 9:02 am Reply with quote

I don't recall the exact phrasing of the episode, but I think the suggestion was that, whilst acknowledging that there are many euphemisms for the thing that we use to deal with human waste, there's no actual word that specifically describes that thing.

There are many words for vacuum cleaner, be they euphemisms or sort-of-synonyms, but "vacuum cleaner" is a specific term that relates directly to the object. I think the point being made was that there's no such term for the lav, though they probably used the term "euphemism" a bit too loosely, due to the constraints of trying to explain this concept in a comedy panel show :)

 
'yorz
1183348.  Tue Mar 22, 2016 9:33 am Reply with quote

There is the expression (brick) shithouse. However, for some reason that rather describes a person in stead of a building/room.
I remember Dutch boyscouts call a loo 'the HUDO' (= Houdt Uw Darmen Open, transl. Keep Your Bowels Open).
KYBO.
Just a thought.....

 
suze
1183370.  Tue Mar 22, 2016 12:16 pm Reply with quote

Hoover, aspirin, crapper and others like it are genericized trade names. Do the young people of today even use hoover any more, now that it's no longer the leading brand of vacuum cleaner?

Getting back to the lavatory - or whatever we choose to call it - this facility was often called the shithouse in days gone by, but that term has become less common now that most of us have indoor plumbing.

But practically every name we have for it in English is either a euphemism or a dysphemism (the opposite of a euphemism, where we go out of our way to be ruder than necessary). We do not have a word which is as neutral as "Defecation and Urination Facility" would be. Perhaps we should be calling it the DUF ...

The nearest approach is perhaps dunny, but it's a word that is only really used in Australia. It's derived from the obsolete word dunnekin = "little house of dung".

 
crissdee
1183386.  Tue Mar 22, 2016 1:36 pm Reply with quote

So if "toilet" and "lavatory" are not specifically descriptive of the object in question, what do they mean?

 
'yorz
1183392.  Tue Mar 22, 2016 2:17 pm Reply with quote

I guess toilet stems from toilette (Fr). It means formal or fashionable attire or style of dress.
So toilet(te) will have been the equivalent of powder room. A place where you would freshen up, readjust your clothes if necessary.

 
'yorz
1183393.  Tue Mar 22, 2016 2:18 pm Reply with quote

Lavatory - lavet? Laver (Fr) = to wash. So again a room to refresh yourself?

 
suze
1183401.  Tue Mar 22, 2016 5:02 pm Reply with quote

Yes, Latin lavatorium = washroom.

Actually calling that facility the washroom is more common in Canada than elsewhere, but wherever you are it will be understood as meaning a place to defecate and urinate rather than a place to wash.

 
crissdee
1183405.  Tue Mar 22, 2016 6:44 pm Reply with quote

So the word "lavatory" means the place where one defecates and/or urinates. It does not (in common usage) mean anything but that. By what criteria is that a euphemistic term?

dr.bob wrote:
I don't recall the exact phrasing of the episode, but I think the suggestion was that, whilst acknowledging that there are many euphemisms for the thing that we use to deal with human waste, there's no actual word that specifically describes that thing.


I would therefore say that this claim is incorrect, we do have a word that specifically describes that thing. The word is "lavatory".

 
suze
1183408.  Tue Mar 22, 2016 8:00 pm Reply with quote

Actually, I'm going to give you that.

A word means what it is used to mean, not what its etymology indicates it to mean. Anus is the Latin word for a ring, but no one would ever say "Oh, my boyfriend asked me to marry him and gave me a lovely diamond anus". (Anyone who would say this will please keep that fact to themselves ...)

And since we never use lavatory in any sense other than "Defecation and Urination Facility", that is what it means.

Contrast with toilet. It's rather an old-fashioned expression, but to make one's toilet is to perform morning ablutions and get dressed. If you told me you were going to the bog, you might mean that you were off to cut peat. The smallest room in our house is in fact the cupboard under the stairs, and if I say I'm going there it's probably because I need a light bulb - that being where we keep them.

But we don't use lavatory to mean anything else, much as its etymology means something else.

Is there any easy way to distinguish between the porcelain fitting itself and the room which contains it? If I needed to refer specifically to the hardware of Messrs Armitage, is there any more elegant term than "the actual lavatory"?

 
14-11-2014
1183412.  Wed Mar 23, 2016 1:03 am Reply with quote

Quote:
Is there any easy way to distinguish between the porcelain fitting itself and the room which contains it?

No, so the name of one of the rooms which contains the white equipment is an euphemism for the equipment. QI showed the white thing, FWIW. The white seat itself it an euphemism for what you'd be doing there. You're not going to the lavatory and return without doing anything there. The word hides what you're going to do there.

 
'yorz
1183421.  Wed Mar 23, 2016 3:38 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Is there any easy way to distinguish between the porcelain fitting itself and the room which contains it?


In Cloggie, the toiletpot houses in the toilet. Doesn't English have a similar word for the porcelain seat?

 
monzac
1183422.  Wed Mar 23, 2016 3:43 am Reply with quote

Pan.

 

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