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One of the joys of British English is that it varies by region, by social class (and by how important social class is to the speaker) and by influence from TV/Radio/Film (e.g introduction of Americanisms and the rise of Estuary English).

I'm from London and East Anglia (Essex and Suffolk, specifically) and am (lower) middle class. So while this may be true for me, I'm aware that other Brits may well jump on my head for what I'm about to say. :-)

To me, a room is only a "living room" if, in addition to the sofa and TV it also has the table and chairs in it. This is the set up in my own flat, and since the kitchen table is covered with Sherlock's chemistry paraphenalia it seems to be the case at 221B too.

If you eat somewhere else (even if it is in the kitchen) then I would call the sofa room a "sitting room".

However, some people would always say "living room", finding sitting room pretentious and some people (possibly Mycroft?) would always say "sitting room", finding living room slightly infra dig.

There is another British word for living room: "lounge". However, I was actually *taught* not to use this, being told, "Airports and hotels have lounges, homes don't." Consequently, I can see Sherlock using "lounge" just to annoy Mycroft. :-)

"Parlour" is dated, but some of the pretentious classes seem to be using it again, for that very reason. However, to me it will always seem slightly lower class, partly because of the Music Hall song "When Father Papered the Parlour".

There is also the phenomenon of the "front room". The standard set up for terraced houses is/was three up, two down - three bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs, two "reception rooms" (as estate agents call them) and a kitchen downstairs. (My grandparents raised ten kids in a Barking three up, two down.) While the logical use of these two rooms is a sitting room and a separate dining room, many people use/d the back room as a living/family room and kept the front room as a formal sitting room, only to be used when there were guests.

Depending on just how "upper" upper class/upper-middle class you think Sherlock and Mycroft are, the Holmes family home may have formal "drawing rooms" rather than "sitting rooms". (If a house is big enough for a library, it probably has drawing rooms.) Equally, someone who grew up with drawing rooms, may well continue to use that term for the living room in more humble accommodation.

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natsuko1978
Jun. 16th, 2012 12:36 am (UTC)
Hee. as I said, where you live affects what you call things. "Lounge" - apart from airports and hotels! - always sounds a bit Northern to me, I have to admit. (Are all those those labels still current? Or were they also a factor of your grandparents' ages?)

Nice to know that all the "living rooms" have tables and chairs in them as well as sofas/armcahirs, same as down here, though. :D

impulsereader
Jun. 15th, 2012 10:53 pm (UTC)
So living room. Interesting. With a possible sitting room from Sherlock.
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