55 Canadianisms
Posted: 18 December 2013 01:08 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I’m on a Canadian language kick today

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Posted: 18 December 2013 06:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Isn’t serviette the French for napkin?

[ Edited: 18 December 2013 06:46 PM by Faldage ]
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Posted: 18 December 2013 11:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Isn’t serviette the French for napkin?

In my childhood home, we used squares of linen to wipe our mouths at table. I was taught to call them “serviettes”. Each of us had their own “serviette ring” in which the serviette was rolled up and kept when not in use. I don’t know if they were washed after each meal --- I rather think not, unless seriously soiled. I had a sterling silver serviette ring, with my initials engraved on it, which I had received from my godparents at my christening [I haven’t always been a Jew], together with a spoon and fork (some kids with well-heeled godparents also got a silver porringer and a “pusher").
A “napkin” was what you put on a baby. In the UK, I think they’re still called that ("Nappy" for short).

Edit: we didn’t speak French at home. French was one of the things one learned at school - another world entirely.

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Posted: 19 December 2013 01:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Various comments from an Australian…

The first and only time I heard the word Pablum:
Stewart and Colbert at the Emmys.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZu63SqFd38‎

There was a joke that Queensland’s motto, Audax at Fidelis, means “No dog left unfucked.”

I am annoyed by the fact that stagette only has one g. Just begging for trouble.

Serviette, icing sugar, queue are very ordinary words in Australia. Turfed out, I actually thought _was_ an Australianism.

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Posted: 19 December 2013 04:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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lionello - 18 December 2013 11:47 PM

Isn’t serviette the French for napkin?

A “napkin” was what you put on a baby. In the UK, I think they’re still called that ("Nappy" for short).

That’s not standard in South Leftpondia.  What you are calling a nappy we call a diaper.  Dunno about North Leftpondia.

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Posted: 19 December 2013 05:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Isn’t serviette the French for napkin?

I just looked at the package of paper napkins in my kitchen. On one side the label reads, “500 napkins,” on the other, “500 serviettes.” As virtually every product here is labeled in both English and French, this isn’t evidence of Anglophone usage. Elsewhere in Ontario where there are more native French speakers (e.g., Ottawa), the usage may be different. (Here in Toronto, Francophones are few and far between. About the only exposure one gets to French are on product labels and government signage.)

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Posted: 19 December 2013 07:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I’ve encountered serviette in English. Among other instances, in Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, the wife of the UN Secretary General (who is depicted, IIRC, as being American) remarks that she would no more eat a meal without flowers on the table than “without serviettes”.  However, I do believe Heinlein intended this to come off as posh/pretentious. 

As noted, in the UK “napkin” is the full form of “nappy” = US “diaper”; I think “serviette” is the standard British term for the piece of cloth or paper used at table.

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Posted: 19 December 2013 07:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Yes, serviette is the standard French word for ‘napkin.’ It can also, confusingly, mean ‘briefcase.’

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Posted: 19 December 2013 12:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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As noted, in the UK “napkin” is the full form of “nappy” = US “diaper”

True - but I’d add the caveat that over here what you put on a baby is never actually called a “napkin”, either in speech or on the packaging, and hasn’t been in my lifetime (I was born in 1956). I’d be surprised if the average Brit-in-the-street even knows what “nappy” is short for.

I think “serviette” is the standard British term for the piece of cloth or paper used at table.

Nononono - “serviette”, far from being standard, is one of the classic Non-U terms in British English. Maybe Heinlein was aware of this, and meant this ambassador’s wife to be dropping a social brick. For a brick it would certainly be, in British diplomatic circles. Until a few decades ago, when British diplomats and their wives were drawn exclusively from the upper and upper-middle classes, it would have been unthinkable for any of them to utter the word ‘serviette’ unless they were speaking French; and even now I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that they get drilled in the proper words to use!

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Posted: 19 December 2013 12:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Does Canadian-French use “serviette” only for the table/dining usage?  In French-French it is also used for “towel”.  Just wondering how much Canadian-English is influenced by the local French language.

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Posted: 19 December 2013 01:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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A “napkin” was what you put on a baby. In the UK, I think they’re still called that ("Nappy" for short).

That’s not standard in South Leftpondia.  What you are calling a nappy we call a diaper.  Dunno about North Leftpondia.

I just checked with the resident former-Canadian in my office, and it’s “diaper” up there among the Anglophones.  She confirmed that they say “napkin” and not “serviette” at the dinner table.

She also volunteered that she thinks it’s odd for women in the States (or is it just the Northeast?) to say “pocketbook” instead of “purse”.  I never thought of that one as regional.

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Posted: 19 December 2013 11:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Nononono - “serviette”, far from being standard, is one of the classic Non-U terms in British English.

Thanks, Syntinen Laulu, for clearing that up. I should have known I could count on you. My family were (are) very much non-U, having moved up from working class (my great-great-grandfather, a loom operator, was a militant Chartist) to well-to-do middle class in the 19th century (though in my childhood home we voided ourselves in the “lav”, not the “toilet” or “bathroom” or “W.C.")

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Posted: 20 December 2013 02:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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She also volunteered that she thinks it’s odd for women in the States (or is it just the Northeast?) to say “pocketbook” instead of “purse”.

It mystified me when I first encountered it in US writing; it took me quite a while to deduce that these ladies were not walking around with diaries-cum-address books in their handbags.

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Posted: 21 December 2013 07:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Nononono - “serviette”, far from being standard, is one of the classic Non-U terms in British English.

OK, “common” would have been better than “standard”.

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Posted: 22 December 2013 06:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Especially if you hear it in Lady Bracknell’s voice.

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