Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What the heck is a "serviette"?

We are not in Tennessee anymore... napkin vs serviette
Shortly after I had arrived here in British Columbia, I heard another word that I was not familiar with: serviette.  It was in the context of "I asked for a serviette and the waitress looked at me like I was crazy."  Followed by, "Those crazy Americans, don't they know a napkin belongs on a baby's bum?"

I did a bit of research on the web on the difference between "serviette" and "napkin" and learned a few things.

The origin of both words is French.  "Nap" means "a table covering" and "kin" means "small".

"Serviette" is used exclusively in Canada and the U.K. and "napkin" is used in all English speaking countries (including Canada and the U.K.).

Someone from the U.K. said that a person's "class" could be determined by which word they used. If a person used the word "serviette", then he was likely "working class".

Someone from Canada said that she thought the a "serviette" was paper, and the cloth version was a "napkin" (which may explain the previous).

You have got to love our differences!

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