napkin vs serviette

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Vocabulary / Vocabulario Español-Inglés' started by iloveklimt, Nov 24, 2007.

  1. iloveklimt Junior Member

    Seville. Spain
    Spain/Spanish
    Hello, what is the difference between napkin and serviette? which is more common in British English?
    Thanks
     
  2. daisxyx Senior Member

    Nottingham, UK
    England, English
    I would say napkin, but they're interchangeable.
    Serviette is, I think, only used in Britain (as opposed to America).
     
  3. Jeromed Banned

    USA, English
    Serviette is very, very uncommon in the US. In fact, most people would not know what it means.
     
  4. iloveklimt Junior Member

    Seville. Spain
    Spain/Spanish
    Thanks for your answer, but is there any difference between them?
     
  5. daisxyx Senior Member

    Nottingham, UK
    England, English
    Not at all. Napkin is traditionally a bit more "upper-class", perhaps. But they mean exactly the same thing.
     
  6. Jeromed Banned

    USA, English
    Hahaha. In the US serviette sounds pretentious!
     
  7. Oluc (Yvon)

    Oluc (Yvon) Banned

    Ottawa, Canada
    Français, English
    As in so many cases, anglophones have at least two words to choose from, the English (napkin) and the French (serviette). Ever wonder why unabridged English dictionaries are so enormous?
     
  8. daisxyx Senior Member

    Nottingham, UK
    England, English
    That's interesting. It's not so much the case any more (people don't really care), but in the past 'napkin' was associated with the upper class and 'serviette' was firmly lower or middle class.
    I suppose in the US 'serviette' is pretentious because it sounds deliberately foreign.
     
  9. Jeromed Banned

    USA, English
    Exactly!
     
  10. Arrius

    Arrius Senior Member

    Spain
    English, UK
    daisxyx is right, it's a question of social class, though such considerations are nowhere near as important as they used to be. There was much controversy about such usage thirty or forty years ago in England and the the term U (presumably for upper class) was evolved to describe the words preferred by those who considered themselves socially superior. Napkin was a U-word, serviette was not; the nobs went to the lavatory, the plebs to the toilet, the crème de la crème took luncheon at 12.30, the blue-collared worker had dinner, or his lunch if it was a packed lunch etc.,etc.
     
  11. Jeromed Banned

    USA, English
    And do you say paper napkins or paper serviettes.
    Would the nobs admit to using them?
     
  12. eholzmann Junior Member

    Australia
    Chile - Spanish
    In Australia you can use both, napkin and serviette. In fact, when you go to the supermarket the package has written "Serviette".
     
  13. Arrius

    Arrius Senior Member

    Spain
    English, UK
    I say either, but the nobs would prefer paper napkins.
     

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