Friday, June 20, 2008

Is It A Rug Or Carpet?

Last night, in my adult class, an interesting question was posed. What is the dividing line between a rug and carpet.

I have always believed that a rug is pretty much anything that isn't supposed to be tacked down to the floor. If you can roll it up, it's a rug. One of my students mentioned that he was watching a TV show that used the word carpet to describe what I would call an area rug. The show was produced in England. My conclusion is that British folks have a different definition of rug. In the U.S., it's a rug.

The British nomenclature has zillions of words that differ from those used in America. Perhaps this is just another example?

To sum it up, a rug is able to be rolled up and only covers a portion of the floor. Carpet generally is wall-to-wall and tacked down on its edges.

Help me out people! Am I leading these students in the wrong direction?

p.s. The use of "interesting question" earlier in the post is obviously only applicable in the world of English teaching. I realize that this isn't the Geneva Convention but, in my world, this is big stuff!


Helen said...

How about "red carpet" :) ? ... that can be rolled up.
In my mind the difference has been that rug is smaller and lighter and carpet is heavier (material and thickness wise) and bigger. Doesn't have to be stuck to the floor. Like the artistic middle-eastern carpets (e.g. the one Aladdin was flying on).
* i am not native English-speaker :), so don't take me too seriously.

David said...

I think your definition is quite sensible but there are always going to be exceptions. Students need to learn that there isn't always a strict rule for everything, especially in English. They need to be able to adapt to different varieties of English and understand that they are not right or wrong.

阿牛 said...

I think the words just have an overlap in meaning: a rug necessarily covers a limited area, but carpet can either be wall-to-wall or a smaller piece (aka a rug).

For example, you could describe a rug as "a piece of carpet you can roll up." So a rug is still carpet. That seems natural enough.

David said...

Excellent points. Good stuff to think about and discuss with the class next week.

Questions like this make my job a lot more interesting.

Thanks for helping me out with this one.


Tony said...

Hello, Has anyone considered a Mat? Sometimes (in England) a rug is caled a mat, although normally a mat is what you clean your feet on before entry, or is that a rug too?

Shelley said...

Not to add any confusion to the situation, but my next-door neighbor grew up in Queens, NY, and she always refers to her wall-to-wall carpet as a rug or rugs. I find that peculiar, but maybe it's a regional definition. Such a dilemma!

Love ya,

David said...

This is quite a dilemma! lol

I guess we will put this one in the unanswerable file.

I just can't get myself to call a rug,


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