Pants!


Today marks a momentous occassion. I am wearing pants! Okay, I’ve worn pants in the past. Actually, that is what is momentous. I am wearing pants from my past. (PPP: Pre-pregnancy pants.) (And by the way, I’m referring to pants in the US vs. the UK sense.)

I like the word pants. I actually like saying the word pants. It’s one of those words that begs to be repeated. Pants. For example, in a discourse on pants, I would hypothesize that speakers would be less inclined to use pronouns to refer to pants than, say, other entities in the discourse. Even if the word pants had just been mentioned, I would still say “pants.” Consider the following pair of examples:

Speaker A: Have you seen my glasses? I need them.
Speaker B: I see that you are not wearing them. When did you last see them?

vs.

Speaker A: Have you seen my pants? I need my pants.
Speaker B: I see that you are not wearing pants. When did you last see your pants?

I consider the word pants to be an inherently funny word, and I know I’m not alone here. (A friend of mine considers pants to be the funniest word of the English language.) And I’m remembering a sketch from a short-lived show called The Vacant Lot called “Pants! The Musical.”

There is apparently a tradition (according to Wikipedia) of substituting the word pants for other words in lines from Star Wars. Here are some of my favorites listed on the cited website:

3. We’ve got to be able to get some reading on those pants, up or down.
6. I find your lack of pants disturbing.
12. Lock the door. And hope they don’t have pants.

It’s like MadLibs, but all pants!

When discussing pants, it’s also important to pronounce pants properly. I produce pants with very strong aspiration on the [p]. There seems to be a bit of difference in the vowel, too. I’ll plan to make some recordings so that I can do a bit of pants analysis.

Of course, pants is not the only inherently funny word. (I hope to collect some of them.) My favorite is actually squid. I try to use the word squid whenever possible. (And actually in some cases where it is not possible.)

Enough of this for now. I must get on with my pants. My squid is calling.

9 thoughts on “Pants!

  1. In my ongoing search for twee indie pop (was I the person who taught you the word twee, by the way?) I went to see a band called Pants Yell! this summer. I found that the band name sounded so silly that I couldn’t really tell anyone about them. Maybe not the best marketing strategy. Anyway, they still sounded a little rough around the edges.

    Can I put html links in the comments? If so, I could have included a link to the Pants Yell! website.

  2. I think I actually learned the word twee from a photography magazine John was reading. In a critique of a photo that was, well, a bit twee. Might have been a year or two ago. But it is such a good word that we’ve both taken to using it often since. When did you first meet the word?

    And, ya know, I think you can put html links in the comments. At least, John has done so. (And I don’t think he has any special powers.) So I’ll give it a try.

    Pants Yell!

    (That seems a bit like a battle cry. Spoon!)

  3. Actually, I learned the word “twee” from one of my guilty pleasures: Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather. The main character is a governess who scolds her charges for being deliberately twee by lisping.

    Huh. I just found out that “Hogfather” is being made into a TV show. Here’s a tie-in.

  4. I’m not sold on squid being as funny a word as pants, but I did want to share with you a kid’s song I was forced to listen to this morning. It’s called Billy the Squid and is all about an undersea outlaw. Anyway, my favorite line? “He stole from the selfish/And gave to the shellfish.”

    Pantspantspants.

  5. Elizabeth-
    While I’m fond of squid, I may be coming around to your point of view. Pants is such a versatile word. And it comes up so much more often, giving so many more opportunities to say pants. I must say pants several times each day. Squid is more of a specialty word, not one you usually say everyday. (Even me.) So thank you for sharing your squid tale. It is a treat.

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