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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Toilet Vs Loo Vs Lavatory

"Nevertheless a welcome note of physical practicality struck because Marianne need the bathroom - what she referred to in those days as the lavvy or the lav but she would one day come to learn was called The Lavatory, or The Loo, and never, ever The Toilet. Unless you were being ironical" (Yesterday's Houses, Mavis Cheek)

Which one is you? (Picture is from here)

I was attracted to this line in the new novel that I bought from The Times Book Fest for only RM3 (Click here). For me or us (referring to the Malaysian situation), it is ALWAYS and FOREVER 'The Toilet'. Perhaps you may ended up with a wet trousers if you ask 

"Kak, mana loo paling dekat kat sini?"
Pastu kakak tu jawab "Gua tengok loo kecik besar kcik besar" (haha lame joke.Sorry)


"Aunty, can I know where is the lavatory ah?"

I realize that 'toilet' is acceptable in my society. Because people might think that you are kinda rude when you ask,

"Bang, jamban kat ne?"


"Uncle, tandas di mana?" (This one is quite acceptable jugalah)

So, being a nerd person who love to read spend much time on the net, I googled about the usage of the loo,lavatory and toilet. My brief research tells me that it's not only about toilet, lavatory and loo. There are other names that are used as a noun referring to this cubicle which mainly serves the same purpose. (Ahem, you know what I mean). 

However, that's not the end of it. Mr. Google shows that instead of the different vocabulary, the usage of words is actually a mirror of a person social class (as being portrayed in the 'mukadimah sentence'). Later, it leads me to the discovery of U and Non-U English. Well, it is beautiful how language could define your background. The main character in the novel that I am reading is a strong example of self realization. Language plays a beautiful role of defining each person and emotions. 

" The vocabulary list can often appear quite counter-intuitive: the middle class prefers "fancy" or fashionable words (even neologisms), often euphemisms, in an attempt to make themselves sound more refined, while the upper class in many cases sticks to the same plain and traditional words that the working classes also use, as they have no need to make themselves sound more refined, conscious of their status."(Wikipedia Encyclopedia

English is different from the Malay language in term of most of the vocabularies that are used in the palace are totally different from the language that is used by the middle class. However, it is different from English that we couldn't use the 'bahasa Istana' in order to make (what Wikipedia referred as..."  sound more refined, conscious of their status.)

Well, I guess that Malaysian would stick to 'the toilet'. Well, as long as the receiver could understand that 'toilet' is jamban, tandas, washroom or whatever we called it. You don'y want to have wet trousers just to sound more refined or just because that you are conscious with your status. 

p/s Now, I regret that I don't register for Sociolinguistic . There must be many interesting topics in that course. I took English for Science and Technology instead, in which would be abolished in Malaysian schools. Soon. Sigh...


Ibrahim Ismail said...

It's not compulsory for guys? It's indeed an interesting course.

NC said...

we could choose. It happened that its in our package mesti amek EST...