Saturday, August 04, 2007

Always look on the bright side

"Hey, Geekman, I'm doing some washing. Do you have any clothes that need doing?"

"Just this jersey*."

"Uh, you know you aren't really meant to machine-wash jerseys like that, right?"

"Why not?"

"Because they felt."

"What do you mean?"

"You know the material felt? They make that by washing knitted things in a washing machine."

Excitedly, "So I could end up with an armoured jersey?!"


* Jersey = jumper in Aussie English, and uh, sweater? pullover? in American English, I think. I have heard you only use jersey for those things sports players wear. New Zealanders use it generically for all long-sleeved, usually woolen, tops. This is pretty much irrelevant to the anecdote I am telling, so I was going to just replace jersey with pullover, and avoid the tortuous footnoting. Then I thought, no, dammit, it's protecting Americans from information like this that is responsible for you going into foreign countries and talking about your fannies in polite company. Or continuing to name your children Randy. Stop hiding the secrets of linguistic diversity from the Americans, that's what I say.


Anonymous said...

i love your footnote, thank you for keeping it, its the best part!

grace said...

Something that has always puzzled me is how for English people "fanny" is not a polite word, and yet the name Fanny is perfectly OK!!

StyleyGeek said...

I always assumed that fanny came to have its current meaning fairly recently (last forty years or so) and that Fanny wasn't a name anyone used anymore since then. I've only come across it in old books, I think. Do they still name people Fanny?

Ianqui said...

Bwaah haaah haaah! Ah, the trials and tribulations of dialectal differences. (Indeed the footnote is the best part, no offense to Geekman.)

Sweater. That's the proper American term. (It's like Weezer's "The Sweater Song"..."If you want to destroy my sweater, pull this thread as I walk away...")

Propter Doc said...

So what confuses me is the lumbar packs, known to me as bum bags are known as fanny packs in North Americas. I mean, to me a fanny pack has all kinds of negative connotations.

One other one that is confusing is the North American usage of "Pants" to describe trousers. The number of times I've been asked 'are you wearing pants or a skirt' and my response of 'well I think I'll be wearing both as I'm not that sort of person' has been met with such confusion. My lab mates now refer to underpants and overpants at my request.

StyleyGeek said...

Yeah, to me a fanny pack would need a completely different architecture, and wouldn't be all that comfortable :)

And the pants thing confuses me too. Anastasia blogged a while ago about how she never wears pants, and I would have totally misinterpreted her if the context (that people always ask her if she belongs to a skirt-wearing sect) hadn't been made clear.

grace said...

You might be right about Fanny being old-fashioned, Styley. I assume it's a contraction of Frances. Perhaps we would now prefer Fran?

Weekend_Viking said...

Yeah, I had a great aunt Fanny, short for Frances, but she was born well before 1900, but these days most of those I know with that name use the diminutive Fran, instead.

liz said...

Round here refering to "My Aunt Fanny" is a polite way to call bullshit.

One of the bennies of being a fan of Ngaio Marsh is that I know some (old-fashioned) NZ terms for things!

Juggling Frogs said...

"England and America are two countries separated by a common language."**
--George Bernard Shaw

A close friend from Singapore was schooled in boarding schools in London, before moving to Boston, MA, USA as a teem, where we met and became friends. A shy and polite child, she was also studious and driven.

One of her earliest memories of the US, was her first day of school. In the middle of class, she raised her hand with a barely audible request. The teacher asked her twice to speak louder.

On the third try, she shouted in frustration, "Please, I do you have a rubber? I need a rubber."*

25 years later, she can still tap into a living pool of mortification from her classmates' sustained reactions.

* "rubber" in British English is "eraser" in American English.
"rubber in American English" is a condom.

** I just Googled to look up the exact citation for this quote, and found this blog.

Juggling Frogs said...

TYPO: "as a teen", not "teem". Sorry!

StyleyGeek said...

JF, that story is hilarious. I remember there was a period during high school where everyone had just learned the condom sense of the word "rubber" and mercilessly started teasing anyone who still used it to refer to erasers. I was a teasee, not a teaser, sadly :(

Oh, and thanks for the link. That blog looks interesting.

paideia said...

As a U.S. reader, I thank you for the use of the term "jersey." Enlightening. I knew "jumper," but not "Jersey."

My dissertation advisor is named Randy. [Well, Randall, but everyone uses the nickname]. I have enough British friends (and a sufficient fondness for regency romance novels) that I still feel quite dirty saying it.