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Portable [school buildings]

Discussion in 'Dictionary Additions' started by ribran, Feb 26, 2012.

  1. ribran

    ribran Senior Member

    Austin, Texas
    English - American
    Term: Portable



    Your definition or explanation: Portables are temporary buildings used as classroom space by overcrowded schools.


    Example: When I was in seventh grade, all my classes were in portables.


    One or more places you have seen the term:
    Despite the drawbacks, many teachers don't seem to mind working in a portable, Waters said.
    http://timesfreepress.com/news/2011/dec/01/short-term-solution-overcrowded-schools-sale-creek/?print

    We want to hear about your experiences as a teacher or student having a class in a portable.
    http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/20...e-memories-posterous_1_portable-hate-memories

    Some members of the Resident Owners Association say the schools are breaking their end of the bargain with the city, and that the portables are not only ugly, they restrict access to public spaces.
    http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/ne...k-elementary-portables-are-there-to-stay.html

    If portables don’t return to Highland Park ISD campuses a year from now, you can be sure they’ll be back in two years.
    http://www.parkcitiespeople.com/2011/10/17/count-on-seeing-portables-within-two-years/



    Have you looked for this term or meaning in dictionaries, and not found it? Yes __x__ No ___
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2012
  2. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    Wow, that's very odd, Ri ~ not to mention fairly comical. Doesn't portable basically mean the same in AE as in BE, i.e.:)rolleyes:) 'which you can carry around with you'?

    I'm not sure what they call such classrooms in the UK. I (personally) would call them prefabs.
     
  3. ribran

    ribran Senior Member

    Austin, Texas
    English - American
    I think so, but I've never heard anyone use the word as a noun except to refer to one of these buildings.
     
  4. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    This usage of the word is pretty old. The portables at my high school have been there since at least the 70s. I know we called them "portables" in the 80s. Last year, they tried to replace them with modulars, but there's a new law (newer than the portables, so they're grandfathered in) that any new temporary classrooms must be replaced by permanent buildings after 2 years. Since the main school building is a historical landmark, they can't build any permanent buildings on the site to replace the modulars so they have to keep the portables. Catch-22!

    The usage of portable (building) isn't really much stranger than "mobile home".
     
  5. madcom New Member

    English - Australian
    IN Sydney we call them demountables.
     
  6. Distance Junior Member

    London
    English - UK, Welsh
    We called them 'portacabins'.
     
  7. Texano Junior Member

    English - Texas and Southern Dialect
    Portable buildings = portables. Agreed.

    I have also heard them referred to as prefabs, modulars, premans (pre-manufactured), mobile classrooms or mobile office(s), mobiles, units. There are more I'm sure.

    "Portacabins" makes me conjure up images of camping trailers, but I have no doubt you use(d) it. I would understand you completely if you were to use it.
     
  8. owlman Junior Member

    Texas
    English - United States
    Not that you need another Texan opinion :) but the schools I went to in the 80's/90's had lots of portables, and everyone always referred to them as such. Now that I'm out of school, I tend to hear "portable building" or "modular building" more, but I think the "portable" term on its own is still fairly well understood.
     
  9. Langton's Aunt Junior Member

    Halifax, Yorkshire, UK
    British English
    When I was at school we called them the portakabins, but that is a registered trade mark..
     
  10. waltern Senior Member

    English - USA
    While I also now live in Austin, we definitely referred to them as "portables" in New York (Long Island) when I was in Junior High/High School in the 1980s.
     
  11. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    Connecticut
    English - US (Midwest)
    prefab /ˈpriːˌfæb/n
    • a building that is prefabricated, esp a small house

    Portables are more like house trailers/mobile homes (BE caravans).
     
  12. Daican Junior Member

    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    English - Canada
    The OED has several definitions for portable including :
    and this definition has quotes ranging from 1604 to 1992. It also has a further definition under Special uses :
    and this definition has quotes ranging from 1908 to 1984. I have never heard 'prefabs' used for these, and there has been a lot of press about the portables in use here in Toronto.
     
  13. sandra1968 New Member

    English - US-England
    The word portable does actually mean somehting that can be moved around like a portable computer.
    Schools have started using temporary buildings to create extra classrooms and, while they could be called:
    Mobile classrooms - a little like the mobile homes that are used in the US and are basically prefabbed houses dropped onto cinder blocks.
    Temporary classrooms - a more accurate description

    But the schools call them portables. No real logic, it's just the name.
     
  14. sarahjoy New Member

    South Australia
    English- Australia
    At my school (in South Australia) we call classrooms like this "transportables". I haven't heard "portable" used before in this context.
     
  15. bennymix

    bennymix Senior Member

    Ontario, Canada. I grew up in US.
    English (American).
    Ewie said,

    //I'm not sure what they call such classrooms in the UK. I (personally) would call them prefabs. //

    That wouldn't quite do, in my opinion, because of the most common use of that term:

    Prefab House - Definition of Prefab House - Architecture - About.com
    architecture.about.com › ... › Dictionaries › P: Architecture Terms‎
    by Jackie Craven -

    Prefab homes are made from easy-to-assemble building parts that were manufactured off-site. Find pictures, plans, links, and other resources.

    ===

    The 'portables' at my high school were in fact, entire, completed one-room structures, lacking only steps to the door. I did not see it done, but I believe each was hauled there, complete, on some kind of truck. Having no wheels, it could not be towed, but would be lifted, e.g with large fork lift and placed on cement blocks or slabs.

    ==

    I do not understand Sandra's comment:

    The word portable does actually mean somehting that can be moved around like a portable computer.
    Schools have started using temporary buildings to create extra classrooms and, while they could be called:
    Mobile classrooms - a little like the mobile homes that are used in the US and are basically prefabbed houses dropped onto cinder blocks.
    Temporary classrooms - a more accurate description

    But the schools call them portables. No real logic, it's just the name.

    ===

    They are portable because they can be moved around, as well as removed. You bring in a fork lift, lift it off its blocks and place it elsewhere on the school campus. Likewise, I've come and seen a blank spot; the thing was removed, perhaps for use at another school.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2013

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