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Styles and controversy

Posted by TheFallen on May 16, 2003

In Reply to: Lounge posted by TheFallen on May 16, 2003

: : What is a "lounge" house-wise? I've been watching BBC America - in particular "Changing Rooms" and "House Invaders."

: : In the U.S. we have living rooms (the parlor) and more casual family rooms/TV room. A lounge is a bar as in "cocktail lounge," "a public room (as in a hotel, club, or restaurant) where cocktails and other drinks are served." (Merriam-Webster).

: : Second question. The homeowners on the above mentioned decorating shows seem to be familiar with all types of American decorating styles - New England, Southwest, etc. I don't think people in the U.S. would come close to being familiar with British/European styles.

: : Are the British just more sophisticated and well-traveled compared to us? Or are American television shows and movies more widely seen there than vice-versa? Until recently the only British shows I could get were Masterpiece Theatre series and Ab Fab.

: A lounge in the UK is the all-purpose groundfloor room which combines the functions of a family room and a TV room, and often features a dining area too. Here it's worth noting that UK houses tend to be on average considerably smaller than their US equivalents, because land is so much more at a premium over here - we in the UK have 59 million people in 94,000 square miles, whereas in the US there are 281 million people in 3,619,000 square miles, or 21% of the population in an area 2.6% of the size. (In my opinion, this also is the reasoning behind the British insistence on fencing our back yards - that's *our* postage-stamp piece of ground).

: We also use "lounge" in its "bar-room" sense. Pubs often have two bars, namely saloon bars and lounge bars, the latter being theoretically quieter with more seating and no slot-machines or pool tables etc.

: Parlours we don't really have any more. In the days of servants and aristocratic houses, the parlour was a small sitting-room (there's another term for you) just off the kitchen where the more important servants like the cook and the butler could relax once their day's work was done.

: Lounge is pretty interchangeable with living-room over here in the UK, but the latter shows signs of starting to fall into disuse. However, the upper-class over here would NEVER refer to any room as a "lounge" - it'd ALWAYS be a living-room or possibly a drawing-room (much the same as it's NEVER a serviette, but ALWAYS a napkin, and NEVER a dessert but ALWAYS a pudding, and so on and so on).

Just noticed your second question. Yes, in the UK and in Europe as a whole, we tend to be far more aware of US style, culture and language than you are of ours. Media has a large part to play in this, since the "trade balance" in movies and TV shows is massively skewed in the US's favour. However, it's far more than that, and also comes down to geography and history. I remember reading recently that the percentage of US citizens who actually hold a passport is staggeringly small. I can't remember the exact figure, but I'm sure it was under 10%. In Europe, we move around a lot more, both on business and on vacation, and every nation still retains its individual cultural characteristics. With Europe as a whole being far more interconnected than the US, Europeans have a far greater awareness of the relevance of other nations, whereas (with respect) large sections of both the US media and the US populace simply don't seem to be generally interested in events outside their borders unless their administration is directly involved. It's one of the reasons why the US is sometimes accused of being naive, unknowledgeable and culturally isolationist - I'm not saying that I support that view, but a case can be made for it.