Toilet by another name

Toilet by another name

It is tough to convince my young nephew that 'restroom' is just another expression for a 'toilet'. In his early years of double-digit age, he has been as inquisitive as reflective in questioning what a majority of us would consider given. It had also missed my attention that toilet as a term is pass, although not its functions under the new nomenclature. When indeed did 'toilet' signs get replaced by 'restroom' boards? Hasn't it been a transition that we have got used to without wondering when we ever entered a toilet to take 'rest'?

One could go at length to debate the semantics, and the interpretation of the term 'rest' in the context of being relieved of nature's call. But I have learnt that 'restroom' is an American expression aimed at outwitting the prevailing terminologies for public convenience i.e., latrine is Latin, loo is French and toilet is English. Like one global currency, how about 'one' expression for a global human daily engagement! My nephew has made me review this so-called hegemony of verbalisation.

You may wonder what is so uncool about it. Aren't things being made convenient for us, after all? No doubt, but 'cool' too is 'American' in essence that subsumes many linguistic expressions. Its economy may be touching rock bottom but its cultural dominance hasn't, which is a strange mix of arrogance and hegemony that post-war America has mastered. Despite half the world filled with hate for America, from far-East to middle-East and from Latin-America to southern-Europe, there are growing millions who love to talk and walk the American way. Isn't it 'ah-sum' (that's how an American will pronounce 'awesome')?

Would you call it globalisation or will monopolisation be a better substitute? Whatever be it, the world around us is fast turning what some commentators call 'Americanese'. And the 'ease' with which 'American-ese' is becoming a norm is baffling. From American brands to American sops, it seems to be the new way of life. It is fast turning youngsters of all hues into 'couch potatoes', and they are all 'kewl' (or cool) about it. It is, however, a different matter that their parents are absolutely 'uncool' about it, and are often found fuming with rage at the growing trend that has caught on everybody, from Karol Bagh to Kasargod.

Pardon me for my naivety but till the other day, 'dude' for me was somewhat of a rhythmic expression for the word 'dud'. I may be wrong, but I have logical reasons for persisting with it. I wondered why youngsters don't take offence at being called a 'dud(e)', and I checked it up with a younger colleague.

I was told that there is nothing stupid about being called a 'dude'; it's a Scottish word that has been Americanised since the early 1970s. Often a person belonging to the male gender is called a 'dude'. And for God-sake, I was cautioned, don't ask what's that which makes a dude distinct? Not only would it be 'uncool' but I wouls also end up proving myself to be a 'dud'.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
Comments (+)