Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Who Wears the Pants?

Yesterday the Spouse and I were having this conversation.  He was saying some blah blah blah about some situation, then ended with, "I think she wears the pants in the family." 

The idiom pants in the family refers to women who run the show at home and is based on the etymology that men traditionally and historically have worn pants.  Well... except for some weird skirt-wearing years in ancient Egypt and the knickers that plagued the 16th century.  Knickers are not pants, right?  Right.  Glad we're on the same page with that one.  There's also the Scottish Kilt thing, but kilts on men are sexy and the sexy kilt thing just doesn't relate today.

Do you like that I used an idiom to explain and idiom?  Now wasn't that clever.  And wasn't it so not clever that I pointed out that I'm clever?

It just occurred to me that I don't know the difference between an idiom and a colloquialism.  I'm a fan of these types of things.  Mostly, I'm fan of discovering the origin and attached history.  Colloquialisms and idioms say much more than their nebulous, non-literal words display.  To me they say, "Wow!  How did that one come about?  Let's search the internet to know!"

I'd die without the internet.  For real.

So what's the difference between a colloquialism and an idiom?  The collaborative readers at Yahoo Answers say a colloquialism is slang, casual in directive, and limited by region, as in "Yo, what up?" and "pants on the ground!" while an idiom is a saying with a meaning that is not literal, as in "raining cats and dogs."  Funny how we choose a word like colloquialism to represent slang and the word idiom to represent something more formal, yes?  I do declare, that is irony of the finest!

Well, Yahoo Answers wasn't enough.  I needed more answers, because evidently, I had colloquialism and idioms all messed up. I pulled up colloquialisms at wikipedia and hoped for a colloquial-idiom corollary but came up dry on that.

After some search – whereby I found various pages to contradict – I can conclude one thing: the distinction between colloquialism and idiom is only necessary in formal writing.  And since this is anything but formal writing, we need not worry about it, right?

Right you are Rabid!

Love it when I'm right.  Also love it when I wear the pants.  Which brings me to the point of my conversation with Spouse and wearing the pants.

After his mention of "she wears the pants in the family."  I kinda back-tracked and did one of those whirly-bird neck thingies.

"What do people say about me and my pants and whether I wear the pants?"  

Think about that one folks... pause for some reflection.  This is, indeed, a loaded question.  For any answer makes someone look like a total pussy.  (Did I type that out load?  I did!  And I'm not going to delete it!) If I wear the pants, then Spouse looks like a dumbdoodle with no say.  If he wears the pants, then I'm a victimized, beaten wife of an alcoholic.

See?  Loaded.

Spouse understood the loaded capacity of my question and stared at me blankly.  The guy is a genius.  He knows when to say nothing.  He knows when he has been asked one of those lose-or-lose questions.

This is what I said: "Well.  I think I'm one of those I'm going to wear my own pants kind of people.  And if you want to wear pants too, that's just fine.  You just go over there and wear your own pants.  I'll stay over here and wear my pants.  Then we can get our pants together and make 'em dance."

Know what he said?  "Right you are Rabid."