Comic #16 - Pants

Comic #16 - Pants - 30 November 2016

We speak the same language, but we don't always understand each other...


My boss is an older Englishman who's lived here in Thailand for over 25 years, and he doesn't really "do" any kind of messaging, so one of my responsibilities as office manager is relaying important messages between the school administration and the English Department.

One day a message came from the headmistress that we had a special dress code for the next day's assembly. This isn't unusual; colors are really important in Thai culture, and we are often asked to wear certain colors to work on special days. In fact, every day of the week in Thailand has a corresponding color. My school is rather traditional, so we usually wear the appropriate color each day out of respect to Thai culture.

Monday - yellow
Tuesday - pink
Wednesday - green
Thursday - orange
Friday - blue
Saturday - purple
Sunday - red

On this particular day several months back, we were paying respect to His Majesty, the late King of Thailand, who was born on a Monday, and thus his official color is yellow. For the special morning assembly we were asked to wear yellow, but no black pants, since black is the color of mourning in Thai culture.

When I relayed the message to my boss, he looked horrified! After a few confusing minutes, we both came to understand each other.

"Pants", as it turns out, means "underpants" in British English and "trousers" means "pants" in American English.

This just goes to show that even we native speakers get confused sometimes. It also really makes me appreciate what our students go through when learning English. In Thailand, we mostly teach British English, so I've gotten a lot better at it, but I still slip up every now and then.

It's funny how fast British syntax begin to sneak into your language when you have to use it every day. I already almost exclusively use British school words like "term" instead of "semester", "holiday" instead of "vacation", "exams" instead of "tests", "liquid" instead of "white-out", and many of more, often without even meaning to.

My family and friends back home in America make fun of me sometimes.

English is fun.

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