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Old 10-01-2013, 11:38 AM   #1
gmw
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Lounges, sofas, settees and couches

One of my beta readers commented about my use of the word "lounge". In Australia* we use "lounge" for both the room (for lounging in) and the piece of furniture (for sitting on, elsewhere called the sofa, settee or couch). The room for lounging in is sometimes called "the lounge" but often "the lounge room". In shops I see essentially the same furniture being sold under the title of lounge or sofa, or sometimes settee (well, they look the same to me). For some reason "couch" has dropped out of favour.

Anyway, the point of this post is to get some idea whether I should change this. The book is contemporary fantasy; yes, parts of it are set in Australia, but it's not trying to push that aspect. So if "lounge" gives the wrong associations to too many readers then I would consider using "sofa" instead. (After all, whether it's a lounge, a sofa or a couch, it should be comfortable. )

Comments?

* Where I grew up in Victoria we referred to the sofa as a "couch", so I'm not sure if "lounge" has grown on me since moving to New South Wales, or whether the word "lounge" has become more common over the years.
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Old 10-01-2013, 01:03 PM   #2
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I enjoy stumbling across regional differences in nouns as long as the definition shows up in the dictionaries I use and your context is clear. This shows up ("a sofa for reclining, sometimes backless, having a headrest at one end") so I vote to leave it in.
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Old 10-01-2013, 09:37 PM   #3
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I might not worry so much if all the book was set in Australia, but in this case my Australian characters have travelled elsewhere. The book is written in subjective third person, so using Australian references is still not completely out of place, but is perhaps more questionable. (And, being fantasy, the book already has some words for the reader to assimilate, so I don't want to stress Australianisms too much.)
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Old 10-02-2013, 01:01 AM   #4
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I have never used to term "lounge" to refer to a piece of furniture -- with one, specific exception: a "chaise lounge," which is like a sofa or couch but it has cushions at one end and is intended for reclining on.

I use the term "couch" as a more general term, and "sofa" is a couch with especially thick, cushy cushions.

But, that may just be me.
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Old 10-02-2013, 01:28 AM   #5
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I'm Australian also, from the west. The piece of furniture is a "couch", though "sofa" is sometimes used. I would understand "lounge" in context, but I'd never say it. The room is a "lounge room" or "living room".
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Old 10-02-2013, 01:48 AM   #6
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Oh, and for me, a "lounge" is a "bar" -- especially a somewhat seedy bar out of a '50s era noir paperback.
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Old 10-02-2013, 02:36 AM   #7
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I don't mind as long as it's consistent. Don't call it a sofa on one page, a couch on the next. I've heard all of them used.
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Old 10-02-2013, 02:39 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meeera View Post
I'm Australian also, from the west. The piece of furniture is a "couch", though "sofa" is sometimes used. I would understand "lounge" in context, but I'd never say it. The room is a "lounge room" or "living room".
I found this curious. I did a search on WA furniture shops and can see that lounge is used much less often than over here in NSW (though a crowd called "Minkz" seems to be trying to change that). Not too many couches in the shops, but found a few more than here. Also noticed a lot of "2 seater" and "3 seater" furniture titles that avoid saying whether they're a sofa or a couch or whatever.
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Old 10-02-2013, 03:00 AM   #9
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I found this curious. I did a search on WA furniture shops and can see that lounge is used much less often than over here in NSW (though a crowd called "Minkz" seems to be trying to change that). Not too many couches in the shops, but found a few more than here. Also noticed a lot of "2 seater" and "3 seater" furniture titles that avoid saying whether they're a sofa or a couch or whatever.
I think of it as a lounge. And that we bought a "lounge suite". They were put in the lounge room. Well, lounge/dining room.

Thinking about it, to me a couch smaller than a lounge. And a sofa probably folds out to a bed. And for some reason, I would expect to find a couch in a living room. Maybe I see the couch as less formal and hence in a less formal room.

But, I think Jessica is right. Consistency is the thing. Though, as it sounds like the book might be Australians travelling around the world, this might be something that differentiates the characters. Maybe you just need to copy this thread in as a conversation somewhere
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Old 10-02-2013, 04:57 AM   #10
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Oh, and for me, a "lounge" is a "bar" -- especially a somewhat seedy bar out of a '50s era noir paperback.
cromag, that place definitely looked seedy. I can think of lounge describing many different places: bars (as you mentioned), departure lounges at airports, lounge rooms in homes, lounge cars on trains, and also sometimes refers to the public waiting area in hotels and similar.

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I don't mind as long as it's consistent. Don't call it a sofa on one page, a couch on the next. I've heard all of them used.
I had assumed that most most readers would be fine, would - as you say - have heard them all used, but it's looking like lounge (as a piece of furniture) simply isn't that familiar to some, and so the word raises associations that don't make sense in context.

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I think of it as a lounge. And that we bought a "lounge suite". They were put in the lounge room. Well, lounge/dining room.[...]
I am glad it hasn't turned out that it's just me.

Mostly I see the names I listed in the subject line as synonyms, but if pushed to it, and given no other context to the words, I would describe the various furniture as:

couch = a less formal/luxurious 2+ seater, probably with fairly firm back, firm or rigid (often wooden) arms. Intended for seating multiple people, not for smooching (or not comfortably).

lounge = a formal/luxurious 3+ seater with plush cushioning on back, seat and arms. Big enough to lie down on, and no sharp corners, making it very suitable for smooching.

sofa = a 2 seater lounge, too short to stretch out on comfortably, but here "sofa" often suggests "sofa-bed", so I would not be surprised to learn that it folds out into a bed (which could solve the smooching problem).

settee = a 2 seater lounge designed for looks rather than comfort.

Not sure where the smooching fixation came from, maybe I'd better go and lie down. ... Actually I do know, one of the scenes in question has a couple stretching out to smooch on the lounge; the "sofa" I see in my head just isn't big enough for that, it needs to be a "lounge".

But, since others have different associations to these words, I am left wondering how best to describe the scene so that I don't get half the people wondering what I'm talking about, and the other half thinking their legs are dangling off the end of the sofa (though maybe that aspect doesn't matter so much).
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Old 10-02-2013, 07:10 AM   #11
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I use couch, never sofa or lounge, sometimes hide-a-bed

and the room it's in is the living room....mostly
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Old 10-02-2013, 06:55 PM   #12
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I have lived in multiple regions of the US and as cromag mentioned, the only time I have seen lounge used is a type of bar, often seedy. Couch or Sofa for the furniture, or Love Seat if its smaller.

I would say it depends on your primary reader... if they are American, I would not used lounge to refer to furniture.
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