(K. Brent Tomer),
“THAT’S pants!” says the exasperated Londoner, confusing Americans. Why would anyone swear by pants? Transatlantic types know the reason: in Britain, pants are undergarments, in America they are mere trousers. Or at least that’s what the New York-London jet-set believes. But in the north-west of England, “pants” are trousers, just as they are in America (and just as they were first elsewhere in England). “Pants” as underpants is the newcomer.
Jack Grieve, a linguist at Birmingham University, uses Twitter to study regional patterns in English. Those who think Twitter is only good for being rude about others are dead wrong. Millions of people use Twitter for ordinary chitchat and unfiltered thoughts. This may be no great contribution to world literature, but it is a gold mine for dialectologists.
That’s because people on social networks write much as they speak. Dialectologists otherwise have a tough job. To find dialect words or expressions, they track down…Continue reading