Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Same Language, Big Differences

I learned a lot of new phrases from living in Scotland. I have to catch myself sometimes talking to friends and family back in the States. For instance, I told my best friend Chrissy that she needed to flog something. I was meaning to sell it, she was thinking beat it senseless...bit of a difference (and neither should be done to small children!). At some point in my blog I'm bound to slip up and call a garbage can a wheelie bin or refer to a last name as a surname or some other random thing I've picked up along my way. There was one specific word that got me into a bit of an embarrassing situation last winter.

My husband and I had acquired jobs at a fireworks company. We were hired on for 3 months to cover the busy period between October and December (Scottish people LOVE their fireworks). I was working in the office doing secretaryish type work and Branden was working in the warehouse, putting together the firework displays. Since gunpowder + heat = Kaboom! the warehouse and all other out buildings couldn't have any heating. My office was the one place with heating (just one little heater), and that helped when we got slammed with over 3 feet of snow and temperatures well below freezing! The crew guys would come in and warm themselves occasionally by my little office heater right in front of my desk.

View from my office window

One day when one of my co-workers (John) came in to warm himself, I said to him smiling, "Come in to warm your fanny?", since he was standing with his backside to the heater.

He looked at me as if I had insulted his mother. In a voice of disbelief, he replied with eyebrows raised, "You are terrible! I can't believe you said that!" Instantly my face had confusion splashed all over it. He continued, "You can't tell me you don't know what that means." and he left my office. I was completely puzzled and didn't think a reference to his bum was that bad.

Later that day, the two office guys I worked with were talking about how handy it would be if the small bathroom building on the sight was actually plumbed and had heaters so we wouldn't have to use the frozen Port-o-Loo...and yes, I mean it as totally frozen. I laughed and said that if the bathrooms had heaters in there then John would camp out in there all the time warming his fanny. You could have heard crickets chirp as their faces stared wide eyed back at me. I finally couldn't take it anymore.

"Ok, what is with me saying fanny?! John did the same thing when I said it to him. Am I not getting something??"

There were awkward glances back and forth as if they were mentally fighting over which person had to explain this one to me. Finally, one of them looked at me (ok, more like the floor in my general vicinity) and attempted his explanation.

"Fanny here means...well, it's basically...it's a woman's...front...bottom....uh, yeah....you know."

My mind all of a sudden put together the fact that I had told my male coworker that he liked to warm his vagina as I managed out an, "Oh my..."

John and I had quite a laugh over the ordeal when I told him that I finally learned what 'fanny' meant and thankfully there was no harm done.


  1. [writes self note] "No...flogging...children."

    And now you know why the UK contingent laugh when we put on our "fanny packs."

  2. That's the royal "We" because I wouldn't be caught dead wearing one.

  3. OMG! That's funny! I never would have known

  4. I love stories like this! I learn so much. Okay, so what does it mean that my stepmother had a grandma named "Fannie" :)

  5. Oh my hell! This is a good one! So funny. I wrote a post awhile back about a lady that came to France and wanted to speak in church by herself without a translator. What she tried to say was in her past half of it was white and half of it was black. What she SAID was
    In my derriere half was white and half was black. All of us kids died laughing. My dad was standing next to her trying to keep a straight face and giving us the evil eye at the same time. Poor dad.

  6. Joshua, your children will thank me in the future for getting you to take note of that one! ;) Yes, Americans and their fanny packs...as if they didn't need to look any worse!

    Queen B, I never saw it in any Scottish phrase books or anything (but I don't think they usually put body part lingo in those things!)

    Stephanie, that's the odd thing, they have people named Fanny there too...maybe it's reserved for unwanted kids???

    Melynda, oh my goodness! I would have died laughing too! That's hilarious!

  7. Priceless. I've had to explain a number of things to a naive coworker of mine. Only he doesn't have the language barrier excuse. I finally got sick of it and now just refer him to urban dictionary. It's just too much.

  8. This reminds me of when I was an exchange student in France. A young girl thought it was hilarious to make fun of my last name which has the word "Fish" or "Poisson" in it. I was good-natured about it for a long time but one day she would just not let up with the mocking. So finally, I said to her:

    "Hey, Fanny. Do you have any idea what your name means in America and England?"

    Hahaha. Guess who got the last laugh?

  9. You had me ROLLING! This is sooo funny! My husband backpacked through Scotland. He's told me some of the funny phrases he learned. I love it :0)

  10. I will have to keep that in mind if I am ever over that way! Funny story! :)

  11. I had no idea Scottish people were big into fireworks.


Does this straitjacket make my butt look big?