Grandma and I got into a discussion this evening about terms that refer to what are variously called nowadays bars, saloons, taverns and pubs—-dispensaries of alcoholic beverages. We reached a dead end with the following question. When the English colonies were founded New England in the 1600’s, the usage “pub” for public house was prevalent in England, as it is today. Yet that usage never seems to have taken hold in the US, even in New England, except recently to indicate a specialization in English beers and customs. Why didn’t the thoroughly British colonists bring the usage here? How did “tavern” become the favored term? (I think we can omit Puritan influence from the discussion, but maybe I’m wrong.) And where did the term “bar” come from?
We are not being frivolous; this is a serious—-perhaps unimportant—-but serious question.
okay, i did some serious wikipedia research for this.
first off, they are called bars because the counter is called a bar. nothing much else there. now, the reason for taverns instead of pubs: for one, a tavern could occasionally house lodgers, while a pub could not, so it is possible taverns saw more use in the colonies, as people could come across on boats and not yet have a place to live. (there’s also some distinctions between inn and tavern, but those are less important)
also, it may be that the word ‘pub’ simply didn’t grow here. these places used to be called ‘public houses’, apparently, and so ‘public houses’ may have been here for some time, but went away after some period of time for various reasons.
finally, out of pure conjecture and really really faint rememberings of us history, it could be that pubs simply didn’t work in the colonies. pubs are the center of life for british villages, but the colonies weren’t villages, they were colonies. i believe the center of the colonies were things like town hall and such. nobody had time to go and get drunk in a pub together, especially with all the fighting going on. people probably just brewed their own alcohol for a while or something, and then the colonies and britain were just… different. things don’t work here like they do there.
if anybody who follows me has actual knowledge on this, go for it. i’m just kinda conjecturing and concluding without any real proof beyond a five minute wikipedia binge.