25 Oct 2012
WATERLOO or WATER - LOO ?
more participants at Jenny Matlock's Alphabet Thursday
Nothing is more annoying for tourists crossing Belgium by car when the city they are looking for suddenly doesn't exist anymore on the highway signs. For example you want to go to Lille in France and you are sure you are on the right way but suddenly the signs indicate "Rijsel" which is the Flemish word for Lille. Nivelles becomes Nijvel and the little neighbor town Braine l'Alleud becomes "Nederbrakel". My poor friend Nicole wanted to take the train home to Braine l'Alleud but couldn't find it and had to ask. On the platform was written "Nederbrakel" ! She had never heard of it !
My town Waterloo is safe for translations into Flemish or other languages ! Water means water and loo comes from l'eau (pronounced loo) which is water in French. The word "loo" is commonly used in the UK for toilet. "I go to the loo" means that you go to the bathroom, restroom or whatever it's called always for the same purpose.
The history of the word "loo" is simple. Like many chiefly British words, 'loo' came from the French. Back in the days before modern plumbing, French commoners would empty their chamberpots directly onto the streets. A common courtesy was to yell, "Gardez l'eau!" (pronounced "Gar-day low", means "Watch out for the water!") to make sure no one was splashed if they were dumping it from a balcony, rooftop, etc. The English caught on to this term, and eventually corrupted l'eau to loo.
Conclusion logically I would live in Waterwater, but as water means l'eau or pronouced loo, it will always remain Waterloo !
No confusion for those who want to visit Napoleon's battle field or Wellington's bed and uniforms and climb on the lion. All highways (or motorways) are leading to WATERLOO !
For me it's rather strange that I only realized now that I am living in a town which would shortly be called WC !