A hall bedroom accent

< Previous | Next >

James Brandon

Senior Member
English + French - UK
In Raymond Chandler's "The Big Sleep", one of the female characters in the story is described as having "a hall bedroom accent". What is it? I am not sure I understand what a "hall bedroom" is in the first place. If the bedroom is in the hall, it cannot be a hall. And if the hall is in the bedroom, you do not get much privacy, do you? But I must be missing something here. :confused:

Thanks
 
  • SPQR

    Senior Member
    US
    American English
    I think this is more interesting than it seems at first glance, and perhaps very subtle.

    This being a language forum, I assumed that "accent" meant the accent of her language, but I don't think so after reading the text.

    A "hall bedroom" is a small, "unimportant" bedroom often used for guests and young children.
    Its "decor" is often K-Mart quality.

    I believe that the author is being derogatory about the way she dresses and what he means is "hall bedroom decor" or "dressed in a non-flashy, cheap, unimpressive way".

    This might be confirmed by his comments later about her knowing as much about antique books as he knows about ant farms (or something).

    Of course, I could be wrong...let's wait for other comments.

    Good question.
    Thanks.
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    You're not the only one puzzled by this, James. Notwithstanding the "hall/bedroom" issue, how does a room give you an accent? I'm wondering if the context will clarify this... can you post the actual sentence (together with the preceding and following sentences)?
     

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    I can fish it out of the novel and a web search will give you the part of the book where it appears. I thought it might be a recognised AE expression - like the girl is a terrible snob since she has that kind of accent, the kind of accent whereby the bedroom you have/own is as big as a hall... The private detective in R Chandler's story likes to hate the rich he works for, of course...
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    SPQR's theory is probably as good as any because at least he knows what a "hall bedroom" is... I've checked out the passage and can't even figure out whether our hero thinks she's dressed well and will speak with a less-than-cultured accent or whether she's dressed cheaply and will speak well!

    I think it's safe to say that this is just another of Mr. Chandler's stylistic expressions and is not recognizeable as an AE expression.
     

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    From what you are saying, the full expression is not a recognised expression in AE, so R Chandler made it up. On the other hand, "a hall bedroom" is indeed a recognised AE term for a small bedroom that is neither particularly comfortable nor nicely decorated. Then, the inference would be that the author meant "a hall bedroom accent" to mean "a low-class accent of someone who would have such an ugly little bedroom for guests". My initial reaction was to assume the opposite: the girl must be high-class if she has a bedroom as big as a hallway (and, presumably, a hallway as large as a terminal at Heathrow airport).
     

    Franzi

    Senior Member
    (San Francisco) English
    I just had this same question, and none of the answers here seem very complete, so I'm resurrecting this ancient thread.

    The term shows up in Mary E. Wilkens Freeman's story "The Hall Bedroom", and obviously means a poor-quality rental room (early 1900's US). It also shows up in some American legal documents from the early 1900's. I can only suppose that the term was readily understandable when Chandler wrote The Big Sleep.

    It can refer to a small room off of a corridor, but it appears to often specifically mean a bad-quality rental room made from converting part of an impressive hallway into a room (e.g. when converting a mansion into a boarding house).

    The character in The Big Sleep is low class but has been dressed expensively for the benefit of the clientele of the "bookstore". The description is supposed to make us realize that there's something fishy about the store.
     

    akak

    Senior Member
    USA
    UK, India- English, Urdu, Hindi
    I think it is a play on the AE expression "bedroom voice," which means a seductive voice used in the bedroom.
    The original is
    In spite of her get-up she looked as if she would have a hall bedroom accent.
    Chandler is saying that despite how nicely dressed she is, when she opens her mouth, the voice, or attempt at least, will be more trashy than ritzy. Possibly that she's lower class, too.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    I think it is a play on the AE expression "bedroom voice," which means a seductive voice used in the bedroom.
    The original is
    Chandler is saying that despite how nicely dressed she is, when she opens her mouth, the voice, or attempt at least, will be more trashy than ritzy. Possibly that she's lower class, too.
    I mostly agree with you, except that the AE expression as I've heard it is
    bedroom eyes, rather than bedroom voice. The meaning of "hall bedroom accent" is,
    I believe, just what you have described. In more modern colloquial AE, one might
    call it a trailer trash accent.
     

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    I think Franzi explains it well (from what I can work out) - hall-bedroom accent (and the hyphen would be justified) as in 'a hall bedroom' being a hall converted into a bedroom (or some of it at any rate), as opposed to a bedroom being as big as a (large) hallway, as I initially interpreted it to be. In other words, low-class. I do not think the idea is 'bedroom accent' (as in 'bedroom' whatever), but 'hall-bedroom' per se.
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    Working from my own understanding of what a "hall bedroom" is, I'd say that Chandler was saying that his character suspected that the lady in question was not as she appeared: something about her demeanor suggested that her background did not match her appearance.

    I think that "hall bedroom" in some contexts would refer to the sort of bedroom that is rented to lodgers/boarders of modest means, people who cannot afford accommodations other than a small bedroom in somebody's house.

    I've heard "bedroom voice" a number of times. It's a voice suited to or reminiscent of bedchamber conversations, one might say.
     

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    OK, so Bibliolept confirms what Franzi explained re. 'hall-bedroom accent', and I confirm your interpretation of what R Chandler is implying about the woman in question, given the context and the story.

    'Bedroom voice' does not appear connected at all (no mention of 'a hall' or 'a hall bedroom' for a start); it simply seems to refer to the voice of somebody (a woman rather than a man?) who speaks as if they were in a bedroom - presumably a reference to the fact the person is speaking in a low voice (perhaps even whispering), and/or is dwelling on intimate/personal matters.

    The 2 expressions do not appear connected; however, there does appear to be a clear consensus as to the meaning implied by R Chandler.

    Thanks for these explanations...
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    They are connected in origin; Chandler is using one as his foundation or inspiration. He is probably "improvising" on one phrase as a jazz musician will improvise on a song. In terms of meaning, the two phrases would appear to be very different.
     

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    OK, I understand what you are saying - 'bedroom voice' is a recognised expression whereas 'hall-bedroom accent' is a made-up one, and one may assume that R Chandler built the latter on the basis of the former, even though the 2 end up having completely different meanings...
     

    Franzi

    Senior Member
    (San Francisco) English
    They are connected in origin; Chandler is using one as his foundation or inspiration. He is probably "improvising" on one phrase as a jazz musician will improvise on a song. In terms of meaning, the two phrases would appear to be very different.
    How do we know they're connected in origin? I wouldn't have gotten "bedroom voice" from "hall bedroom accent" even if "hall bedroom" weren't already a unit on its own. In my totally subjective opinion, "bedroom voice" has no connection of any kind to what Chandler wrote.
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    How do we know they're connected in origin? I wouldn't have gotten "bedroom voice" from "hall bedroom accent" even if "hall bedroom" weren't already a unit on its own. In my totally subjective opinion, "bedroom voice" has no connection of any kind to what Chandler wrote.
    Yes, it is only speculation.
     

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    Right, so we understand the meaning of 'hall-bedroom accent' and that is derived from what 'a hall bedroom' is (and implies in terms of the person's standing in society - or lack of). R Chandler will have used 'hall bedroom' to characterize the accent in question. The 2 together ('hall bedroom' and 'accent') do not constitute a recognised expression or idiom, as I understand. In this respect, it is a creation on the part of R Chandler.

    Simultaneously, there is the set expression 'bedroom voice', and speculation has it that the set expression in question could have inspired R Chandler's creation, but there is no evidence of that. Indeed, the evidence is rather thin, given the fact 'bedroom voice' and 'hall-bedroom accent' carry two completely different meanings and sets of connotations (one concerning intimacy and the personal sphere, the other concerning accents and the issue of [social] class).

    This is where we stand on this one, if I understood correctly. :D
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    And here we are nearly 10 years later ... and this thread was just mentioned to me. Timeless book, timeless thread.:)

    After reading the thread twice, here’s what I think, which correlates with some of what others before me have said. There are too many correct comments in this thread to easily quote and too many distractions to cull, so I'll just say what I think.

    First, the passage is about a woman who is the face of an apparently upmarket bookstore, with its blue leather easy chairs, cigarette stands beside them, and books with hand-tooled bindings on the shelves – a bookstore that is actually “a lending library of elaborate smut” and “indescribable filth.” (A concept that seems quaint today.)

    She had long thighs and she walked with a certain something I hadn't often seen in bookstores. She was an ash blonde with greenish eyes, beaded lashes, hair waved smoothly back from ears in which large jet buttons glittered. Her fingernails were silvered. In spite of her get-up she looked as if she would have a hall bedroom accent.

    My impression is that she appears to have the style and sophistication and knowledge you would expect to find in someone who deals in rare books, but who, on closer inspection, you would expect to have a voice that would give her away as the sort of person who lives (or was raised) in a hall bedroom – in other words, someone from a relatively poor family, someone who is mostly surface with little depth.

    Marlowe goes on to say that she knew as much about rare books as he knew about handling a flea circus. When he asks her about a particular rare book: “She didn’t say: ‘Huh?’ but she wanted to.” Which, for me, reinforces what I mentioned above.

    I also think that her earthy, rather than ethereal, nature can be found in Chandler’s description of her “long thighs” – two of the largest “working” muscles in the body – rather than her “long legs,” which would be a more expected description of an attractive, worldly woman.

    One last observation: I don’t think it’s a “[hall] [bedroom voice],” but a “[hall bedroom] [voice]” – the voice of someone raised or living in the hall bedroom of a modest or poor home (suggesting a simple, fairly uneducated upbringing). I don’t see any hint of “bedroom voice” (as in “bedroom eyes”) in the passage. She is not looking to seduce Marlowe.
     
    Last edited:

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    So, Copyright, you have pretty much confirmed the conclusions reached 10 years ago. And one would need to hyphenate 'hall bedroom' in 'hall-bedroom voice' in order to show that it is 'a voice typical of someone who was brought up in a house where there was a (or were) hall bedroom(s).'

    What puzzled me originally was, in fact, the term 'hall bedroom', which I have never heard used (in BE).

    So, what the author is describing is, really, the contrast between her high-class appearance (her attempt at pretending that she is a lady) and her low-class accent (betraying the fact she is not).

    I feel there is, in the expression, a desire to hint at the type of bookshop it is: in effect, it is a cover for disseminating pornographic books, as I recall. Her exceedingly seductive appearance would not make much sense for someone working in an 'ordinary' bookshop, it is implied: there is something sultry about her. On the other hand, it would be hard to imagine a high-class girl selling porn in a bookshop, which is really what her role is, as I recall. Hence the accent: she is low-class (hence the occupation, which has to do with porn), but outwardly classy (because, after all, she is in the sex business).

    I am not passing judgment, by the way, but attempting to interpret what the author is saying between the lines.

    Thighs Vs Legs: I am a bit baffled by this one. I think the reference to 'long thighs' is an oblique reference to how seductive the girl is, period. (And, after all, in order to have long legs, I suppose it helps to have long highs, although I cannot claim to have taken any such measurements, personally.)
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    And one would need to hyphenate 'hall bedroom' in 'hall-bedroom voice' in order to show that it is 'a voice typical of someone who was brought up in a house where there was a (or were) hall bedroom(s).'
    I don’t think that’s necessary here. It’s not a hard and fast rule – or hard-and-fast rule – to hyphenate all multiple-word adjectives. Personally, I choose hyphens based on a combination of readability, understandability, appearance and custom.

    Which is why you can buy “a first class ticket” without a hyphen, meaning a ticket in First Class, rather than a “first-class ticket,” which strikes me as more of a fine-looking ticket.

    In this case, I would write “hall bedroom voice” without the hyphen. It’s not like she has a "bedroom voice" for the hall, the kitchen, the library and the bathroom, so it’s readily understandable (to me) that “hall bedroom” modifies "voice," even without the hyphen.
     

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    Strictly speaking, adjectivization would require that 'hall bedroom' be hyphenated so that it may be easier to understand the meaning of the expression 'hall-bedroom voice'. It is not because the rules on hyphenation are routinely ignored nowadays that they do not exist or do not have their uses! And, in your example, it should clearly be 'a First Class ticket' or 'a first-class ticket'. Or else it may sound like it is your first 'class ticket'. (Cf. 'a black cab driver' Vs 'a black-cab driver': not the same meaning.) But we'd better not start on hyphens, or else this Thread will go on, non-stop, for another 10 or 20 years...if I am still around to contribute, by then. :eek:
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    And, in your example, it should clearly be 'a First Class ticket' or 'a first-class ticket'. Or else it may sound like it is your first 'class ticket'.
    Whatever a "class ticket" might be. :rolleyes:

    It's possible to find flaws in examples (something I'm reminding myself at this very moment), so I'll just fall back on the statement I made: "It’s not a hard and fast rule – or hard-and-fast rule – to hyphenate all multiple-word adjectives."

    A "hall bedroom voice" is an example of a two-word adjective that works fine for me without a hyphen.
     
    Last edited:

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    Obviously, it is a question of usage too, and modern usage in English is to avoid hyphenation most of the time. The reason put forward is that hyphens add nothing and are not needed (this is not true), or that there are no rules (this is not true either). What it boils down to is that a majority of people do not understand when and what one should hyphenate.

    And I am saying this as someone who (also) works as a freelance proof-reader and sub-editor for various publications/ clients in the UK: you can see that the writer has not put hyphens where they were needed and has added them where they should not be, which has nothing to do with the way the hyphens should be used, and all to do with the writer's inability to grasp the basic rules (and I am talking about people whose job it is to write and edit content, by the way).

    In my view, since much of the Thread was precisely about the notion of 'a hall bedroom', writing it 'a hall-bedroom accent' would make matters clearer, precisely (not to be confused with 'a whole bedroom accent' :D): QED. But it is not a matter of life and death, and one can agree to disagree on hyphenation!
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I've not read the book but have read most of the posts. It seems different style guides differ to some extent on the "rules". This one from the APA seems useful but raises the question of what is meant by misread and who might be doing the reading:)
    General Principle 1 If a compound adjective can be misread, use a hyphen
    So the question is whether we can make (obvious) sense of either hall (bedroom accent) or (hall bedroom) accent and whether one is (far) more likely than the other. If one is so unlikely as to be clearly not the intended meaning, then we don't need a hyphen. Otherwise, a plausible misreading can lead to ambiguity and the hyphen is needed to resolve it (as in the cab driver exampe).

    I'm only adding to the thread becasue I visited what used to be a (gold-rush era) whore-house/brothel in Truckee, California. Behind the front office was a long hall with lots of small "bedrooms" opening off it. So, as I read "hall bedroom accent" it immediately made sense and fitted right in the smut motif, as referring to how (Chandler wanted people to think of) how a whore might speak. It is my only experience in such an establishment, but also fits in with scenes I've seen occasionally in movies - in which the halls were usually lit with some sort of red/pink lighting :)
     
    Last edited:

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    On hyphens, the notion that the hyphen should only be used when absolutely essential is the accepted wisdom today, but in fact it is generally ignored in practice, in my experience. In other words, it is a 'principle' which is used as an excuse for sloppy writing and to hide the fact the person does not understand the rules on hyphenation (they do exist).

    The analogy between 'long hall' and 'hall bedroom' seems relevant here and may, also, have been implied by R Chandler in the description of the sultry shop-assistant, since the bookshop is a front for supplying pornographic material (known today as adult content, I believe).
     
    Last edited:

    duboulart

    Member
    french - france
    Let me say a few words about Agnes Lozelle.
    She is the dame we are talking about, the one with the long thighs. She is a grifter, living with Joe Brody who is a grifter too. Agnes and Joe aren't rich. Agnes is an employee at Geiger's smut books rental racket, Joe is an employee at Puss Walgreen's (a bookmaker who claims to be an insurer). I think they don't receive high salaries, because they do a little blackmail job sometimes. They are petty grifters, not very smart, they aren't killers, nor heisters. There is something touching about them, a poor little couple who tries to survive in a big town constantly growing, in a time of economical trouble. A kind of romantic love between them I think.
    I don't think she's a whore, because she didn't try to seduce Marlowe (she teased him at the store but that's all, when she realizes Marlowe won't be a customer she becomes rather touchy), she stays with her not very smart loser, who is not a tough guy, in fact. In my heart and conscience I don't think she used to be a prostitute - but Chandler knows better.
     

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    I never thought or said she was a prostitute, personally. What I meant is that she works for a shady business linked to sex (not prostitution, as far as I recall, but pornography), hence, somehow, her manner, somewhat at variance with the image one has of the average bookseller or librarian, rightly or wrongly. That is what the author is conveying. Also, the fact such people will tend to be linked to organised crime, if only indirectly, due to the nature of the business and its illegal nature at the time.

    Pornography tended to be distributed in print and through those channels, obviously, at the time. It was frowned upon, clearly. Nowadays, she would be running a successful website with adult content and it would be mainstream, without the least moral stigma attached to it! In fact, clients and consumers of the content would probably be uploading it with gusto, to gain more 'likes' for their on-screen performance and various assets! There would be nothing shameful or smutty about it at all... We have clearly come a long way. :p
     

    duboulart

    Member
    french - france
    I am a gold digger, and I found another use of "hall bedroom accent" in Chandler's work. Perhaps it will permit to attain a better comprehension. It is in the short story "Guns at Cyrano's" (1936). Jean Adrian, a show girl, is speaking :
    I'm not looking for sympathy when I say I'm a tramp. I've smothered in too many hall bedrooms, stripped in too many filthy dressing rooms, missed too many meals, told too many lies to be anything else.
     

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    Interesting quote: thanks. So, it would confirm what various contributors have explained, i.e. that 'a hall bedroom' was a form of cheap accommodation for hard-up people -- small, cramped bedrooms off the main hall, in a building, as opposed to proper and roomier bedrooms.
     

    estott

    New Member
    Englosh - American
    I thought that a hall bedroom was one of those illegal rooms in old SRO Hotels, where there was no window to the outside, and the only light came from the hallway transom window. Some of them were so narrow there was barely room enough to hold the bed.
     

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    Thanks. This may be so but does not really contradict the general definition I had come to, based on what various contributors (particularly American ones) had said: "So, it would confirm what various contributors have explained, i.e. that 'a hall bedroom' was a form of cheap accommodation for hard-up people -- small, cramped bedrooms off the main hall, in a building, as opposed to proper and roomier bedrooms."

    I suppose, to simplify, one could say it is (or was) an accent that would have been typical of the lower echelons of the working class and of the unemployed under-class (tramps, the poor, etc.).
     

    pBronze

    New Member
    Chinese
    Thank you all for the question and all the discussions, Google lead me here when I try to find the answer of same question. And I also appreciated your demonstration of pursuing precision. It's really difficult for me to correctly comprehend the English written 70 years ago, especially it's written swiftly and it's not my native language. You see, Chandler's work has been translated into Chinese, but they are staggering while panting, break the backdrop and clumsy debris leaks in. Now I'm trying to translate it for myself, I hope I can get everything in position in my best. Thanks again!

    Off the "hall bedroom" topic, I'd like to discuss about the thighs a bit :D: I think this is one fantastic sample of Chandler's subtle choice of word. This suggests a clear posture while the girl "got up slowly and swayed towards me in a tight black dress". It pictures a girl trying to walk sexy by raise her thigh first instead of whole leg, the calf is invisible because she is wearing a "tight black dress". And Marlow the detective of course noticed the factitiousness.
     

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    Good luck with translating the whole book, if that is what you are doing. He also uses quite a bit of American slang typical of the period, but I believe there are some reference websites dealing with that kind of language: nothing dates faster than slang...
     

    dl77

    New Member
    English - Ireland
    a form of cheap accommodation for hard-up people -- small, cramped bedrooms off the main hall, in a building, as opposed to proper and roomier bedrooms.

    The apartments off the entrance hall of a rooming house are more exposed to the noises and smells of the street and to the disturbances made by other tenants coming, going and loitering. And it's hard to maintain privacy and dignity with a bedroom opening onto a semi-public corridor, and having to walk past strangers on the way to a shared bathroom. Marlowe has intuited that her life has been along those lines. Her penthouse airs don't stand up to his scrutiny. That's the reading that pleases me anyway, I don't know if that's what Chandler intended.

    Now I'm trying to translate it for myself...

    Interesting, good luck with that. I remember reading that when Chandler decided to become a professional writer, he taught himself the craft by reading detective magazines, rewriting the stories in his own words, and then comparing his version with the published version to better understand why things were done a certain way. The biographer thought that he was trying to internalise the voice and stylistic choices of the American detective story in the same way as he had been taught say Virgil in his Latin classes in public school - by translating back and forth from his own language to the author's language.
     

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    I do not know enough about R Chandler to comment on how he arrived at his own style of writing, but, if he was not a gangster himself (and he wasn't), he can only have arrived at that style through imitation (of the slang of the underworld, the cliches, etc.). That's what most writers do, anyway. Reading the popular detective magazines would have been a good starting point to soak up the atmosphere, the phrases and expressions, the characters, etc.

    I agree with your take on the meaning of the expression (your 1st paragraph, DL 77).
     

    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    I agree with those who think it may refer to prostitution since in "houses of ill repute", the prostitutes 'work' in small, barely furnished (often just with a bed) rooms that open off a hall(way).
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    As to hyphens, I was reading a Wikipedia page the other day mostly written by someone from the UK and halfway through I had a case of hyphen fatigue. There were about six times as many hyphens as I would have used. I think they are just a lot less popular and seen as a lot less necessary in American English. If I was writing for an audience that knew what a hall bedroom was, I wouldn't hyphenate it either.
     

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    You would not hyphenate 'a hall bedroom' but you would (or should) hyphenate 'a hall-bedroom accent' because 'hall bedroom' is turned into an adjective qualifying the noun that follows ('accent'), i.e. is adjectivized. But of course you are free to ignore the rule, as do 99% of people nowadays (including journalists writing for newspapers such as the Financial Times -- because they don't know, and/or don't care, and/or don't actually understand the rule). :p
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I would say we have a different rule. :)

    [Although, as Paul says, sometimes something might look like a rule but in reality is just guidance.]

    Added: I gave up on that Wikipedia page. It was just too much. No exaggeration. Yes, I'm weak.
     
    Last edited:

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    I knew this was coming... The rule is quite simple and meant to clarify meaning. In a lot of cases, it may not matter but in some cases, it does. Compare: 'a black cab driver' and 'a black-cab driver' (the black cabs being the black taxis in central London); the 1st one is a comment on the driver's ethnicity; the 2nd one indicates that the driver, wherever he or she may be from, drives a licensed black cab as opposed to another vehicle such as a minicab. It is down to the hyphen.

    PS A case of having 'another rule' or not knowing /understanding the existing rule?
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Here's a very interesting page on the tendencies of AE versus BE. The page was posted in 2007. I highly recommended it, including the comment section.

    to hyphenate or not to hyphenate?

    Here's the opening:

    The Shorter Oxford Dictionary (6th edn) recently made the news for deleting a lot of hyphens that had been in the previous edition. According to the AskOxford website:

    Drawing on the evidence of the Oxford Reading Programme and our two–billion–word Oxford English Corpus, we removed something like 16,000 hyphens from the text of the Shorter. So it's double bass, not double–bass, ice cream not ice–cream, makeover instead of make–over, and postmodern rather than post–modern.
    I can't help thinking those are actually n- or m-dashes and not hyphens.

    One thing it made me realize is the difference between compounding two nouns and compounding a noun and something else. An example given in the comments is "theory-driven". I would never write that as two separate words, although it is in the example (which I think has to be an oversight). The same with "age-related". But I think the big difference in AE and BE might be our differing treatment of two-noun compounds. We seem to have a much stronger tendency to write them as two separate words (open) or one hyphenless word (closed). That might account for many of the additional, extra! ( :) ) hyphens I've noticed on various pages. Also contributing is the tendency in BE to add hyphens more often in words beginning with pre, re, post and such. The article days American English tends to skip over the hyphenation phase and go straight to the closed phase more often.

    So, since I would never say "hallbedroom accent", I am content to stick with "hall bedroom accent". I don't see a pressing need for a hyphen between nouns much (most?) of the time. Ice-cream?:eek:
     

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    Of course language evolves over time and you may start with 2 words and end up with 1, via a phase where the 2 words in question are hyphenated -- and you also have the American tendency to turn nouns into verbs (to impact something). As you concede yourself, 'hallbedroom accent' doesn't look quite right, but it is adjectivised, and regardless of the spelling, hence would logically be 'hall-bedroom accent'. :D 'Hall bedroom accent' could be the kind of accent one has when one lives in a 'hall' and/or a 'bedroom'. Right? :eek:
     

    gwynedd

    New Member
    english
    In Raymond Chandler's "The Big Sleep", one of the female characters in the story is described as having "a hall bedroom accent". What is it? I am not sure I understand what a "hall bedroom" is in the first place. If the bedroom is in the hall, it cannot be a hall. And if the hall is in the bedroom, you do not get much privacy, do you? But I must be missing something here. :confused:

    Thanks
    OK. Here is what a hall bedroom is (I'm actually old enough to know.) So. In a tenement, there would be stairs up flights and at the end of the top flight is a space between the dwellings on either side at the back, a hallway. So this was blocked off with a door and since the rule was you have to have a window in every room, there would be a skylight but no windows in the walls, because the walls were next to the other apartments. This would be the cheapest room because it was only skylit. And up at the top of all the stairs. "Hall Bedroom Poverty" meant you couldn't afford any room but the poorest one. Here is an excerpt of a story by Mary E Wilkins Freeman 1905
    "“January 18, 1883. Here I am established in my new boarding-house. I have, as befits my humble means, the hall bedroom, even the hall bedroom on the third floor. I have heard all my life of hall bedrooms, I have seen hall bedrooms, I have been in them, but never until now, when I am actually established in one, did I comprehend what, at once, an ignominious and sternly uncompromising thing a hall bedroom is. It proves the ignominy of the dweller therein. No man at thirty-six (my age) would be domiciled in a hall bedroom, unless he were himself ignominious, at least comparatively speaking. I am proved by this means incontrovertibly to have been left far behind in the race. I see no reason why I should not live in this hall bedroom for the rest of my life, that is, if I have money enough to pay the landlady, and that seems probable, since my small funds are invested as safely as if I were an orphan-ward in charge of a pillar of a sanctuary."
     

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    Thanks, G., and it confirms what has been said before. The quote also confirms the association between 'a hall bedroom' and poverty/ belonging to a low class or underclass in society; hence, 'hall-bedroom accent' would be the accent of someone belonging to such a social class at the time (and not 'a bedroom accent being used in a hall', appealing as this hypothesis might be :p).
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top