Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Nappy By Any Other Name

I’ve been back in the States for so long now you’d think I’d have learned to speak the language of my birth. But no. I have been utterly confused by What’s-his-name’s “Nappy-headed hos” comment. Thanks largely to my daughters I learned what a “ho” is years ago, and I can certainly understand why that’s offensive. What confused me was the “nappy-headed” part.

You have to understand that I raised two children in England, Australia, and the Middle East, which means that when I bought Pampers and Huggies, the box said “nappies” on the side. So every time I read about this controversy, my mental image was of a person wearing, well, a Pampers on her head. It wasn’t until Steve said something the other day that I went, “Oh, oh! I get it! Nappy as in NAP. I was thinking diapers! No wonder it didn’t make any sense.”

Steve, of course, howled. The silliest part about this mistake is that “nappy” is one Britishism I never adopted. Yet I heard it so much for so many years that I automatically associated it with diapers.

The hardest part of all this is that if I had an accent I could get away with ordering chips and talking about car parks and punch ups. Since I sound like an American, people just think I’m weird. Okay, maybe I am weird.

And thick.

6 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

OK, you're getting teased about this one at the meeting tonight.

Kate S said...

LOL, that is funny. Brave of you to admit it. :)

Sphinx Ink said...

Reminds me of why the Brits think it's hilarious that Americans wear "fanny packs"--the Americans think of a "fanny" as one's buttocks, while to the British "fanny" refers to the female genitalia....One language, multiple meanings.

cs harris said...

The differences in the various versions of English fascinate me. Unfortunately, they're all scrambled in my head into MY version of English. This sometimes causes me problems when I'm writing--one of the reasons I made my heroine in ARCHANGELS a polyglot. I can have her "hire" a car and it's not a mistake. It's when I have the all-American male protag hire a car that Steve reaches for the red pen.

liz fenwick said...

I'm like you and very confused having spent a few weeks in FL and now back in the UK I don't know which words to use right now but then maybe I never do.........

Steve Malley said...

I'm feelin ya, CS!

Do the Yanks still say 'feeling you?' Must remember to ask...

And Sphinx? I made that *exact* mistake years ago. 'Nice fanny pack,' I said.

I'm blushing right now remembering her reaction....