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  • Topic

    Drawing room?

    Please consider the following room:

    The house is a late Victorian townhouse. The room (A) has a size of about 40 sqm, or 400 sq ft., a nice but not elaborate chimneypiece with sofas in front of it, a plastered ceiling, grand piano, a few mahogany pieces. A door (regular, not double or sliding) leads to the dining room, another to the hall.

    No television set, which is in another, smaller room (B) upstairs, used for watching television and as a spare guest room. But it's in room (A) that the family sit and read or play board games, in other words, room (A) isn't just for formal entertaining of guests once in a while.

    For this sort of room, would upper and upper-middle class Brits say "drawing room", "sitting room" or something else?

    Would it be different if the room were used in the same way, but had a desk and lots of bookshelves along the walls?

    (I know that there are regional differences and the like, that especially in America, that would be a living room, that many Brits wouldn't fuss and call any lounge a lounge, and that Mrs Bucket would call any sort of "main room" a drawing room, that's why I specifically ask about uppers and upper-middles.)
    Author Rudi_7 (774404) 08 Dec 12, 21:36
    It's Bouquet! SCNR.
    #1Author Norbert Juffa (236158) 09 Dec 12, 01:26
    In AE, I would normally call such a room a living room - but since it is an old Victorian, I might call it a parlor or sitting room, just to match the period of the house.
    #2Author svaihingen (705121) 09 Dec 12, 06:28
    I'm confused: Are we talking about Victorian times or current (TV)?
    I think you need a dose of Lucy :)
    #3Authorlaalaa (238508) 09 Dec 12, 10:52
    Today. The house was built in the late Victorian era (1890s). (Also, a middle-of-the-road telly in the upstairs room, or does ten years old count as steampunk? :-).
    #4Author Rudi_7 (774404) 09 Dec 12, 11:56

    I don't think the Victorians had TV.


    I'd call it a sitting-room or a living-room. And if it had a desk and books, but was still used for the purpose you describe, I'd say the same.

    I haven't heard anyone talk about their 'drawing-room' for years, and 'lounge' is very, very non-U.
    #5Author escoville (237761) 09 Dec 12, 11:57
    OT: What is the origin of "drawing room" anyway? Is the idea that currents of air were drawn through the room via large open windows?
    #6Author ion1122 (443218) 09 Dec 12, 13:15
    "Withdrawing room", a room to withdraw or retire. (Not to withdraw from the dining room after dinner, by the way.)
    #7Author Rudi_7 (774404) 09 Dec 12, 13:43
    and 'lounge' is very, very non-U.

    Come again?
    #8Author Gibson (418762) 09 Dec 12, 22:20
    related discussion: A U and not a non-U phrase?

    I think there's a longer discussion somewhere with more examples, under some German title about British class differences or something.
    #9Author hm -- us (236141) 09 Dec 12, 22:29
    Thanks, but I didn't mean the meaning of 'non-u', which LEO gives as 'unfein'. I meant the very surprising claim that 'lounge' is 'very, very non-u'. Where does that come from?
    #10Author Gibson (418762) 09 Dec 12, 23:04
    Oh, sorry. But 'lounge' is on the list of words in, for example, the Wiki article cited in the other thread, so I would guess it comes from Ross or whoever wrote the original article.

    If you mean that the 'very, very' part seems to come from escoville's personal preference, you might be right. (-:
    #11Author hm -- us (236141) 09 Dec 12, 23:27
    Thanks again. I guess everybody I know is a pleb then, including all the guys at Cambridge ;)
    #12Author Gibson (418762) 09 Dec 12, 23:40
    #10: I meant the very surprising claim that 'lounge' is 'very, very non-u'.

    Surprising to you, maybe, but escoville is undoubtedly right: it's one of the classic examples.
    #13AuthorKinkyAfro (587241) 09 Dec 12, 23:41
    If you have to ask why "lounge" is not acceptable, you are clearly not a member of the upper class and so you do not warrant an explanation. So sorry!
    And as that Irish chappy said: "It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or despise him."

    #14Author Ecgberht (469528) 09 Dec 12, 23:51
    I feel firmly put into place now. *tucking forelock*
    #15Author Gibson (418762) 09 Dec 12, 23:55
    @gibson: psst, it's *tugging forelock*. Good to know there are plenty of "plebs" at Cambridge:-).
    #16Author Anne(gb) (236994) 10 Dec 12, 01:10
    Hotels and ships have lounges, private houses don't. (In U-speak, that is.)

    I wasn't stating my personal preferences, only that there are plenty of people who will cringe if you use the word to refer to a living-room, so perhaps it's better to avoid it. If that doesn't bother you, then fine, the room you describe is a lounge.
    #17Author escoville (237761) 10 Dec 12, 08:06
    I imagine that there are plenty of plebs anywhere, really. But even the people who said 'lav' (which took me a moment to work out) didn't recoil in horror at the mention of 'lounge'. I was just surprised to learn that it's the linguistic equivalent of the Antichrist ;)
    #18Author Gibson (418762) 10 Dec 12, 08:09
    @ gibson

    People who tug forelocks don't speak non-U. Non-U is the idiom of those who like to think they are going up in the world.
    #19Author escoville (237761) 10 Dec 12, 08:11
    I'm not sure I understand that. So non-U ist something like 'pretend educated' (but getting it wrong)?

    Edit: Just read the wike article which answered my question. It also says:

    She [Nancy Mitford] wrote an essay in Noblesse Oblige (1956), which helped to popularise the "U", or upper-class, and "non-U" classification of linguistic usage and behaviour (see U and non-U English) — although this is something she saw as a tease and she certainly never took seriously.

    Things clearly have changed...

    #20Author Gibson (418762) 10 Dec 12, 08:19
    I can't really imagine anyone here saying lounge for a room in a private house, as opposed to a hotel, airport, student living quarters, etc.
    #21Author Jurist (US) (804041) 10 Dec 12, 09:11
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