20 Comments

  1. CWAA.

    Yes, of course you understand it. It’s an absurd situation spurred by the almost-pun. But the police do have a reason for busting those cattle. They have a beef with another herd.

  2. My first thought was “Gee Bill, after all the Maslin cartoons you’d posted, you didn’t notice his signature?” But, just to be sure, I went back through the years (I know that’s not many) seeing how many there were, .. and I couldn’t find any. Huh? ..until I realized I’d been skipping the “Arlo Page”s and.. tada!, But also not with Maslin’s name despite it not looking like grass (as it does in this one).

    That’s probably why I know Maslin so well. A favorite of mine has a wife calling to her husband from the front door of their house as he walks down the front path to his car, “Don’t forget the milk. Oh, and pants—we need pants.” (and when you take another look at the two…)

  3. Kevin A, in UK English “pants” means underwear and they call the two-legged garment “trousers.” Crazy. Also, in Japan the local word for Western-style underwear is “pantsu,” being based on the British use. In Singapore you certainly did hear a lot of people say “trousers” for the outer garment and sometimes they would call them “pants”, but I don’t recall very often hearing the locals refer to underwear as “pants.”

  4. catladymac, I saw the signature of course, but an illegible signature hardly qualifies as “identifying.”

    I’d hate to have something of mine published and instead of a byline they just included my signature.

    It’s irrelevant that we can figure out who the cartoonist is using some detective work: it’s disrespectful.

  5. The first time I saw Cabaret, “working in a nightclub in a pair of lacy pants” really didn’t make sense to me. Then of course I found out what an English girl means by “pants.”

  6. @”SingpaoreBill”(sic) I get that my comment was not understandable to Brits thanks to our (the U.S.’s) wayward way with the language; I’ll never forget that when referring to “pants”. (The Maslin cartoon was definitely about trousers.)

    Is it then funny for you when you hear one of us order “a suit with 2 pair of pants”? 🙂 (’cause I now can’t get that picture out of my head.)

  7. I have made that mistake enough that it is now on the approved list and doesn’t go into moderation. Didn’t notice it. 🙂 Maybe I should see about logging in so that doesn’t happen.

    I am Canadian. Born and raised her and, while I knew that trousers were another name for pants, we call them pants here. Having lived abroad those years, though, I do often find myself referring to them as trousers to remove ambiguity. It also took me a long time to stop calling an elevator a lift.

    So, if I went to your tailor with you, no, I wouldn’t find that particularly funny. If you were with a Brit, I’m sure they’d be polite enough to not laugh in your face.

  8. I have “slacks” also, for really any sort of trouser. (But not tights, which look like an antonym.) I only call something jeans if made from a few specific fabrics, but I know many people do use that term more widely. And I still have not come to grips with “khakis” not necessarily being that color.

  9. When I was young – say in the 1950s/60s – men wore trousers or pants and women wore slacks,

    Women did not wear bifurcated garments until the hoop skirts in the 1800s – they would be picked up by the wind and under the skirt could be seen.

  10. As a Brit, I hear “pants” often enough in an American accent on the telly not to be confused by it if it seems to be in an appropriate context, even if spoken by a Brit. A larger potential source of confusion is vest, which is an undergarment item here, not a waistcoat. Also suspenders here are for holding up stockings, insofar as women wear stockings these days, and not trousers (we use braces, hence the expression “belt and braces” for a super-safe doubling-up approach to various actions and procedures).

    Luckily, the common and useful term “cummerbund” is the same in both US and UK (derived from Persian kamarband).

  11. I find the different British and American meanings of “fanny” even more amusing.

  12. You can very frequently see that spelled “cumberbund”. I don’t think I’ve worn one since my high school prom. There was a bit of lore, about the right way to wear one — the folds should open upwards, and that’s where a gentleman would hold the opera or theatre tickets. I couldn’t fathom what was wrong with using a pocket in some other piece of clothing.

  13. SingaporeBill–you called an elevator a lift in Canada? Where in Canada? I grew up in southern Ontario, never heard “lift” outside of British TV. A friend owned the local Armor Elevator, too–never heard him say “lift” either.

  14. Phil Smith III, “lift” came from 8+years of living in Singapore, where they do, indeed, call them lifts. They knew what you meant if you said elevator, but you hang around long enough, you start talking like them. Then it sticks. I suspect I would have fallen out of the habit more quickly if MrsSingaporeBill weren’t one of them and still inclined to call it a “lift.”

  15. SingaporeBill: Ah, yes, makes perfect sense. I’m back in the U.S. (for 35 years now) but still find that I occasionally say something that makes Americans stare blankly. Most recently I was in a liquor store and asked for a mickey of something. Eventually I figured out that “mickey” is an unknown term down here.

    My very unscientific impression is that Americans are worse about this than other English speakers. If my impression is correct, the follow on question–whether this is a demonstration of American provincialism (itself a term that makes me laugh for linguistic reasons) or simply because American culture is so ubiquitous that other English speakers know about “elevator” and “fanny pack” and the like from TV–remains a mystery worthy of a Canada Council grant!

  16. A “mickey” in reference to alcholic beverages is not something nice here in America. Although it may be something only geezers can remember. Short for “Mickey Finn,” it’s a beverage with “knockout drops”, i.e. a sedative drug. It turns up often in hard-boiled detective stories from the 1930’s.

  17. I have been reading some fantasy adventure novels, The Invisible Library series by UK author Genevieve Cogman. Generally speaking she does not try to use American spelling or vocabulary, so on the occasion that something goes against what I think of as US not UK usage I take note. I have asked about a few on alt.usage.english.

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