Prelude for the non-Brits: “OH MAN these pants are so tight today” I commented while doing some fresh-out-of-the-wash jean squats a few days after arriving in England on a Christmas visit. A couple confused looks later, I realized that it was a good thing I made that comment in front of family rather than my new friends because I was quickly informed that in England, the word “pants” actually means you’re talking about underwear.
Since moving to the UK, there’s been a few words that I’ve had to adjust to. Chips are french fries while crisps are chips. You don’t stand in a line, you queue. Rather than throwing garbage in the garbage can, you throw your rubbish in the bin (and yes, the way the words are spoken sounds like italics, if italics were an accent). I could create an extensive list but that’s besides the point, all these words are relatively easy to adjust to.
But the one word I always get caught using incorrectly – pants. If you’re talking about the long pieces of material hugging your bottom half, they’re referred to as trousers.
Now, I’ve put forth an honest effort and tried using this word a few times. The problem is, saying it with a Canadian accent makes it sound nowhere near how it should; instead of an eloquent English word, the noise that comes out of my mouth sounds like a cat about to be dropped in a bathtub: TrOWzERRS.
The other day I was going to compliment my friend on her cute pants (trousers), but what was going through my mind instead was:
Those are really cute pan- no, trousers. Crap, can’t say trousers out loud. Jeans! Wait… they’re not jeans, are those leggings? No it’s a different material, I wonder what that is… forget it, abort compliment, ABORT
Imagine her reaction as I walk up and stand there staring at her legs with a blank expression on my face.
You could say I’ve been caught with my pants down (ha!). What’s a Canadian to do?
(Yes, I am aware that was an atrocious pun)