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subtle_science in hp_britglish

A couple of questions:


Do Brits use the saying about a man not buying the cow if he can get the milk for free?  How about "until the cows come home"?  I know both of those are pretty common here in Texas, but this is Cow Country.  *shrug*

Also, I'm a little unclear about the usage of y-fronts versus briefs.  Is y-fronts just an old-fashioned term (i.e., more likely to be used in the Marauders' teen years) and the same undergarments are more likely to be called briefs today, or do the two terms describe different types of pants?
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Yes, both those expressions are used here, though the second is far more common.

Y fronts are old fashioned but are different from briefs, having an upside down Y design where one of the short sides of the Y is open rather than stitched. Unless wizards have different underwear options, the chances are very high that the marauders would have worn Y fronts at school.
Whee!  Thanks!  :-)
and also, "amusing y fronts" were very fashionable in the 1970's, pictures of cartoon characters, all over photos, slogans, and the like.

erughk. *tries not to remember her shagging days in the 70's...*
Oh.  my.  God ... I'm just imagining y-fronts with little pictures of Marvin the Mad Muggle printed on them.  *scrubs brain*
"Until the cows come home" is perfectly standard British usage.

"Not buying the cow if you can get the milk for free" is one I'd never heard until I read Jennifer Weiner's Good In Bed. There is an expression "why buy a dog and bark yourself?" but it means don't duplicate what you can get someone else to do, not the usage of milk/cow which is as I understand it that a man won't marry you unless he has to.
Yeah, that's what it means here, and that was how I'd planned to use it.  Hrm ... I'm not sure if the other phrase would work for what I'm trying to do.  Maybe setting the scene a little more is in order:

Okay, Snape is in his seventh year and he's just proposed to his girlfriend at the Halloween feast.  (No, don't run away!  She's not a Mary Sue, I promise!)  They both decide to stay at school over Christmas so they can have a little more private time, or rather she decides to stay because he always does anyway.  The other guys in his dormitory have all gone home for the holidays, so they have sex for the first time during the break.

Afterward, she asks if he still plans to marry her.  I was planning to have her say she wasn't sure if he'd buy the cow if he could get the milk for free, and he'd awkwardly say he didn't like milk or he was allergic to it or something like that.  I suppose she could use the other phrase and I could have him say he doesn't really like dogs (judging by Sirius, Snape is just not a dog person), but it doesn't seem to have the same impact to me.  :-/
Well, no, because it doesn't mean the same thing.

This is in the seventies, so she could use the "three great lies of modern times" line:

"Our cheque's in the post
I'll respect you in the morning
I'm a member of the Special Patrol Group; we're only here to keep the peace" [the last one varies with age and politics; my current version of it is "Thank you for calling our help line; we're here to sort things out" and there is a version which substitutes "I won't come in your mouth" or, this being the seventies "I promise you I'll pull out in time"]
I don't really like the idea of a sheltered pureblood witch using any of those.  They all sound too Muggle to me, whereas I'm pretty sure wizards would still drink milk.  Meh.  Well, I'll figure something out.  Thanks anyway.
dumbledore

July 2014

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