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CHAT: English words (was Re: Hymn to Ikea (was: Re: CHAT: F.L.O.E.S.))

From:Ph. D. <phild@...>
Date:Friday, February 27, 2004, 0:53
Joseph Fatula wrote:
> From: "And Rosta": > > > I share my office with a new colleague who has come back > > from 20 years in LA (after speaking Britishish Indian English > > for her first 20) & is having trouble readjusting and reacquiring > > all the Briticisms she had had to lose. "Queue" was one she > > mentioned. Another was the telephone being "engaged", which > > apparently tickles Californians no end. (Are public lavatories > > either "vacant" or *"busy"* in America?) > > You'd be hard pressed to find a "lavatory" around here, though > about half the people in this city would understand that "lava" > means "wash" . . . But to answer your question, a public > bathroom would be either "vacant" or "in use", depending on its > contents.
I would say that most Americans know what a lavatory is, although we don't use the word ourselves. But when I watch Jay Leno asking questions on the street, I'm not so sure. "Occupied" is also used to refer to a restroom which is in use.
> > Sofa? Couch? Chesterfield? I forget what you call them. They > > sit on them all the time in Friends. > > Haven't seen it, though I know what a sofa/couch is. Chesterfield sounds > like something you made up just to yank my chain, but that probably means > it's a real English word.
When I was a child in the 1960s, my older relatives (here in Midwestern USA) called them Davenports. (I know of nothing called a Chesterfield except a brand of cigarettes.) --Ph. D.