Toilet Trousers

One of this week’s better language gaffes from a student.

Tuesday morning and (for some reason) We had drifted on to the subject of birthdays. As usual, a student had confused his date of birth with his birthday.

« You’ve only ever had one birthday ??? How sad. What did you get ? »

« My wife give me some toilet trousers. »

A brief moment of incomprehension.

« Do you go to the toilet in your trousers ? » I finally asked.

« Everyday » replied the student, confirming in the next breath that he had already been to the toilet in his trousers that morning.

The statement gave rise to a deabte within the class. Yes, men do go to the toilet in their trousers, at least they are wearing trousers when they enter, but then adapt their trouser posture depending on the reason of the visit .

– The unbuttoning or the unzipping of flies for number ones

– The pulling down of for number twos

It was at this point that my student corrected his first statement.

« I mean to say that my wife buy me some bathroom trousers. »

Specific trousser for wearing to the bathroom ???

Are these different from toilet trousers ???

There are still French men of the older generation who keep their underwear on under their pyjamas at night, but I have never heard of the curious practise of wearing trousers in the bath or the shower.

With most language gaffes, you eventually manage to work out what the student is trying to say and manage to correct it, but I was lost on this one.

The student then told me in French, that his wife had given him a « trousse de toilette » (troos der twalet), which is simply a sponge bag. The term « trousse » meaning a small bag and « toilette », in its original sense, which meant, having a wash – « faire sa toilette » (fair sa twalet) – washing onself in key places without actually stepping into the shower or wallowing in the bath.

« Your wife bought you a sponge bag ! » EUREKA

A thoughtful silence from the student.

« My bag is not a sponge. »

On the toilet trousers thème, one student did point out that toilet trousers exist for pilots and astronauts.  « They do the toilet in their trousers, sot hey have toilet trousers. »

You can’t argue with that.