What is it about jokes of the ‘bodily function’ variety that reduce one to a giggling adolescent?
As an Aussie making her life in the UK, I cannot tell you the amount of times I have let it slip that I got my pants wet stepping in a puddle on the way to work. Or that I left my thongs at the door to avoid getting your carpet dirty.
Yes, trousers and casual summer footwear take on a whole new meaning on the other side of the planet.
But this month’s Five A Day reminded me of another Aussie twist on the English language…with the word root.
Here are few definitions from Merriam-Webster. It’s an Encyclopedia Britannica company so it must know:
1a : the usually underground part of a seed plant body that functions as an organ of absorption, aeration, and food storage or as a means of anchorage and support and that differs from a stem especially in lacking nodes, buds, and leaves b : any subterranean plant part (as a true root or a bulb, tuber, rootstock, or other modified stem) especially when fleshy and edible
2 a (1) : the part of a tooth within the socket (2) : any of the processes into which the root of a tooth is often divided b : the enlarged basal part of a hair within the skin—called also hair root c : the proximal end of a nerve; especially : one or more bundles of nerve fibers joining the cranial and spinal nerves with their respective nuclei and columns of gray matter—see dorsal root, ventral root d : the part of an organ or physical structure by which it is attached to the body
Nothing odd here. Long, complicated and a bit boring (actually I ‘switched off’ about two lines in). Just what you expected, right?
Yes that’s right.
So when you ask us to root around and find that information, we suppress a childish giggle.
And when you ask us which route you should take, those fresh off the boat may let an adolescent snigger escape. (The rest of us are sniggering on the inside.)
And heaven forbid when you Americans say you are rooting for us…
So what cross-cultural euphemisms have caught you out? Go on, you can tell me.
It’ll be our little secret…