Off topic: WC/Toilets
Thread poster: Heinrich Pesch

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 17:39
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Mar 24

On Finnish airports I see this sign: WC - Toilets.
I always assumed that WC is English, so why translate WC into English? Do you think WC alone is internationally understood?


 

Philip Lees  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 17:39
Member (2008)
Greek to English
Closet Mar 24

I was taught it means "water closet" - a euphemism if ever there was one. It's one of those abbreviations, like DNA and HIV, that are much better known than the full phrase and are used in multiple languages.

If I saw a sign saying "WC - Toilets" on a Finnish airport I would think that "Toilets" must be the Finnish word for restrooms.icon_smile.gif


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:39
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Ha ha Mar 24

Philip Lees wrote:

I was taught it means "water closet" - a euphemism if ever there was one. It's one of those abbreviations, like DNA and HIV, that are much better known than the full phrase and are used in multiple languages.

If I saw a sign saying "WC - Toilets" on a Finnish airport I would think that "Toilets" must be the Finnish word for restrooms.icon_smile.gif


"Restroom" is an American euphemism for toilet. Nobody goes in there to rest.. In the same way, "sleeping with" someone is an American euphemism for "having sex". No sleeping is usually involved, and often no bed either.

However WC is fine, and is universally understood in all languages. There's no need to add "toilet". Personally I prefer "lavatory". One British English euphemism is "Washroom".

I hate euphemisms. So Victorian and neurotic.

Now please excuse me while I go to wash my hands.

[Edited at 2019-03-24 10:14 GMT]


Liviu-Lee Roth
missdutch
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:39
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Heinrich Mar 24

Heinrich Pesch wrote:
Do you think WC alone is internationally understood?


South Africa: "WC" is not commonly used (neither in speech, nor in writing). It's a toilet. If you don't want to say the T-word, then "bathroom" will get you to the appropriate location. "rest room" is a term used mostly at filling stations. I suspect that if you ask "where is the WC", there is a good chance you'll get a blank stare.

In the Netherlands where I currently live, "wc" is an actual word (not an abbreviation), pronounced "vay-say".

If you google for images of public toilets in, say, London, you'll see most of them are labelled only "toilet", and "WC" is rarely used.


 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Iconic Mar 24

While I know the WC meaning and can specify it in the context, it's a little sad they treat us all like slow-thinkers children, using toilet signs/pictures.

On the other hand, there're also may be handicapped and illiterate foreigners...


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:39
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
In the US... Mar 24

“WC” is not generally used or understood, and “toilet” - while of course widely understood - is not typically used, either on signage or in polite speech requesting or indicating location.

The standard term is, as Tom points out, “restroom,” with silhouettes of men and women accompanying the words “men”/“gentlemen” and “ladies”/“”women” respectively on door signs.

And if the bathroom is unisex, then one might see “Restroom” on the door, accompanied by the silhouettes of both sexes.


Liviu-Lee Roth
Tina Vonhof
MollyRose
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:39
Member (2008)
Italian to English
In the US Mar 24

Robert Forstag wrote:

“WC” is not generally used or understood, and “toilet” - while of course widely understood - is not typically used, either on signage or in polite speech requesting or indicating location.


In the US, maybe. There's nothing wrong with saying "toilet" here in the UK.

The standard term is, as Tom points out, “restroom,”


Only in the US


 

Andrzej Mierzejewski  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 16:39
Polish to English
+ ...
I'm going to... Mar 24

In some movies, women say "I'm going to powder my nose" and walk to the restroom. And they really do what they said.icon_wink.gif

If you're planning a trip to Poland, please note that you will probably see unique signs. Here's a short article: https://www.lexiophiles.com/english/how-to-find-your-toilet-in-poland . Unfortunately, I don't know the origin of these signs.

icon_smile.gif


 

RobinB  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:39
German to English
Different Englishes Mar 24

Hi Heinrich,

On Finnish airports I see this sign: WC - Toilets.
I always assumed that WC is English, so why translate WC into English? Do you think WC alone is internationally understood?


You're right that WC isn't always internationally understood, though I think most American international airline passengers today will understand what "toilets" are - not least because they also have to understand what a "lavatory" is in a plane. Now that's a word that fell out of common usage in the English-speaking world decades ago!

Back in 2006 when Germany hosted the World Cup, there was a large sign at Frankfurt Airport that generated a lot of laughter. In German,"Weltmeisterschaft" (World Cup) is mainly abbreviated to "WM", so presumably the geniuses at the German marketing agency contracted by Frankfurt Airport thought they could do the same in English. Coupled with the common German habit of saying "welcome at" in English (rather than "to"), this produced a large-format banner that read something like "Frankfurt Airport welcomes you at the WC".

Though maybe we shouldn't be too surprised. After all this is a country where a leading discount supermarket chain calls its brand of toilet paper/bathroom tissue (or whatever you want to call it, e.g. loopaper) "Happy End". And the same chain has a brand of breakfast cereal called "Little Man Golden Balls". Disclaimer: I lived there for >30 years.

OK, back to work on a series of Brexit-related legislative acts for a European financial regulator. No cloud without a silver lining, I guess.

Robin


 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 17:39
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Oh that's the WC Mar 24

RobinB wrote:

Back in 2006 when Germany hosted the World Cup, there was a large sign at Frankfurt Airport that generated a lot of laughter. In German,"Weltmeisterschaft" (World Cup) is mainly abbreviated to "WM", so presumably the geniuses at the German marketing agency contracted by Frankfurt Airport thought they could do the same in English. Coupled with the common German habit of saying "welcome at" in English (rather than "to"), this produced a large-format banner that read something like "Frankfurt Airport welcomes you at the WC".


Robin


When I google for 'Welcome at the WC' I get a lot of links to the World Cup 2018 in Russia. So perhaps we should abandon the WC altogether, as it seems to be football related (soccer related). Why just can't we say Men's room and Ladies' room? Well, I know that leaves out the third sex.


 

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 08:39
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
More on signs Mar 24

Robert Forstag wrote:

“WC” is not generally used or understood, and “toilet” - while of course widely understood - is not typically used, either on signage or in polite speech requesting or indicating location.

The standard term is, as Tom points out, “restroom,” with silhouettes of men and women accompanying the words “men”/“gentlemen” and “ladies”/“”women” respectively on door signs.

And if the bathroom is unisex, then one might see “Restroom” on the door, accompanied by the silhouettes of both sexes.


'Restroom' is used in Canada as well but 'washroom' is more common, and, after all, you do wash your hands there. In many places there are bilingual signs: 'washrooms/toilettes' and there are even special signs in some (ice) hockey arenas: a man facing left and a woman facing right, both on skates with a hockey stick in the middle.


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Lol Mar 25

Tom in London wrote:
I hate euphemisms


Tom in London wrote:
WC is fine


Tom in London wrote:
Personally I prefer "lavatory"


Tom in London wrote:
There's nothing wrong with saying "toilet"


There's nothing like being principled, lol.

Tbh the only non-euphemisms I can think of are crapper and urinal. Even bog, presumably, is no good.

(PS Washroom = British?!)


writeaway
Olav Karlsen
 

Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:39
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
Typical British..... Mar 25

Tom in London wrote:

Robert Forstag wrote:

“WC” is not generally used or understood, and “toilet” - while of course widely understood - is not typically used, either on signage or in polite speech requesting or indicating location.


In the US, maybe. There's nothing wrong with saying "toilet" here in the UK.

The standard term is, as Tom points out, “restroom,”


Only in the US


Loo, at least according my dictionary.icon_smile.gif


Chris S
Christine Andersen
 

Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 09:39
French to Spanish
+ ...
WC Mar 25

in Mexico, everybody knows what it is, but nobody knows what it means.
Sometimes, baños. And that's correct.


 


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