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Bellman
Posted: 13 June 2012 12:59 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I notice in American movies of the 30s-50s hotel clerks always refer to or call for a bellboy, no matter what age (or sex in a few instances - the Marx Bros Cocoanuts for example) the bellboy turns out to be. In more recent American movies I’ve heard the term bellman used a couple of times in reference to a grown man who does that job. What term is used now, if the job still exists? A catchall one like bellboy, or a gender/age specific term?

OED defines bellboy (in the US) as a pageboy. For bellman it gives no specific US meaning (old entry I guess).

BTW A rather glaring omission in the cite for sense 2 (obsolete) of bellman. I’’ve reported it to OED. Here’s the relevant entry:

†2. He who ‘bears the bell’; the best or most excellent. Obs. rare.

1607 G. Markham Cavelarice v. 53 Repaire to the stables of great princes where commonly are the best men of this art.

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Posted: 13 June 2012 02:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Bellhop is (or at least was) common as well.

In my own hotel experience, I haven’t noted what the person is addressed as. I’ve only heard things like, “someone from the bell desk” or “I’ll have the bell captain send someone to help.”

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Posted: 14 June 2012 05:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Well, in today’s America, if the hotel porter is African American, I would strongly advise against calling him a “bellboy”.

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Posted: 14 June 2012 06:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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With that reminder, I have heard bellmen referred to as porters.

Although my experience is at least equally divided between US and overseas hotels, so I’m not sure if my experience represents US usage all that well.

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Posted: 14 June 2012 09:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I think have only recall hearing ‘’Room Service’’ in recent years.

Several recent Google News ghits for ‘’bellboy’’. None seem to be US.

[ Edited: 14 June 2012 09:14 AM by droogie ]
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Posted: 14 June 2012 09:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Room service is quite different from what the bell desk does. Room service delivers food to rooms. The bell desk are porters and gofers. In smaller hotels they are probably the same people, but in larger ones they’re different staffs. The room service waiters work in the kitchen/restaurant, and the porters work from the bell desk in the lobby.

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Posted: 15 June 2012 07:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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"Bellman" was the name of one of John Peel’s hounds. The hotel lobby connection is not clear --- perhaps “from a find to a check”

;-)

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Posted: 15 June 2012 07:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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It seems to me that “ Boy” has for centuries been used - on both sides of the pond - to refer to a person in a lowly, or servile, occupation, without regard necessarily to age. Delivery boy, elevator (or lift) boy, loblolly boy (the last occurs frequently in O’Brian’s sea novels), shoeshine boy ...I recall wondering, as a youngster, why the “I” in Glenn Miller’s “Chattanooga Choo-choo” would ask a child for directions (have those lyrics been re-written PC, by the way, like those of “The Three Caballeros”?)

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Posted: 15 June 2012 06:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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What I say three times is true.

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Posted: 16 June 2012 07:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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“Bellman" was the name of one of John Peel’s hounds.

And presumably might have been given the name either for the ‘winner, champion’ sense of the word, or as a hound who belled, i.e. gave tongue, notably long, loudly or sweetly?

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Posted: 16 June 2012 12:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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OP Tipping - 15 June 2012 06:22 PM

What I say three times is true.

The poor Baker, I do weep for him. In fact I deeply sympathize.

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Posted: 16 June 2012 06:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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The bowsprit got mixed with the rudder sometimes.

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Posted: 17 June 2012 02:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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All the news, in fits.

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Posted: 17 June 2012 11:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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It seems to me that “ Boy” has for centuries been used - on both sides of the pond - to refer to a person in a lowly, or servile, occupation, without regard necessarily to age.

At the bottom of the pond, too.  In apartheid South Africa, all black males were called “boy” and house servants (most white families had one) wore a uniform comprising a white top and white shorts, both piped in another colour.  When I emigrated there as a child, I found it all very odd.

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Posted: 18 June 2012 12:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Yes, come to think of it, in Aden we had a houseboy, a Somali who must have been in his mid-20s. I’m sure the same term was used in other far-flung corners of the Empire.

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Posted: 18 June 2012 12:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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It seems to me that “Boy” has for centuries been used - on both sides of the pond - to refer to a person in a lowly, or servile, occupation, without regard necessarily to age.

Not just in English either. “Garçon!”

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