or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Sunday, February 04, 2007


In Saint John, where we used to live, there's a horse track called the Exhibition Park Raceway, which is irrelevant except that there's a small bar/restaurant attached to it called the Sulky Room, which Jim and I always found hilarious. We couldn't see the sign for it without one or the other of us exaggeratedly pouting (the stereotypically six-year-old face with the lower lip stuck out that Jim's always called "boo-boo face").

The two versions of "sulky" are, bizarrely and unexpectedly, related, as far as anyone knows. The ill-tempered one comes, apparently, from the obsolete "sulke", "sluggish", which doesn't really make a lot of sense, but what's really out there is the horse-drawn vehicle version; Answers.com says it's, and I quote, "From SULKY (from its having only one seat)". Wha? A one-seated vehicle is more sluggish than a two-seater? Or a carriage? I honestly don't get it.

Anyway. Today we were idly watching the design ambush show "While You Were Out" on television before heading out to run some errands, and the room being stealthily remade was an enormous but nearly empty bathroom which was being converted into a combination bath/dressing room. The host of the show kept referring to it as a boudoir, which just didn't seem right to me, and sort of isn't: the term "boudoir" is nearly always used in North America to refer to a private bedroom. It can, however, refer to a dressing room or a sitting room, so he wasn't altogether wrong--but I'm still not convinced that a room with a bathtub in it is a boudoir, as opposed to...well, something else, anyway.

(As an aside, I would like to point out that the "-oir" suffix in French can be used to turn a verb into a noun meaning "a place where" or "something in which", as in "abbatoir", "slaughterhouse", from "abbatre", "to strike down", or "peignoir", "dressing-gown", from "peigner", "to comb the hair".)

In the course of looking it up to see whether I was right or wrong, I discovered that the root of "boudoir" was "bouder", which is the French verb meaning "to sulk", which is to say that a boudoir is, or was, a place where a lady goes to mope and pout, and therefore is a Sulky Room for real.


Post a Comment

<< Home