Why is it a pair when it a single article?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous' started by K'Ehleyr, Aug 30, 2011.

  1. K'Ehleyr

    K'Ehleyr Commodore Commodore

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    This came up during a conversation recently...

    Why do you have a pair of glasses when they are quite obviously one item?

    Why is it a pair of pants? Do you have two of them, No. So why a pair? Or is because they have two legholes therefore designed for a pair of legs?

    What else is refered to as 'a pair' and is quite obviously not?

    :confused:

    Answers, explainations, eagerly awaited :)
     
  2. Chaos Descending

    Chaos Descending Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well, a "pair of glasses" literally has a "pair of glasses" in it. Frame, lens one, lens two. Two lenses. Two glasses. A pair of glasses.

    The pants thing, I don't know.
     
  3. K'Ehleyr

    K'Ehleyr Commodore Commodore

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    Ok I'll take that. ~ I s'pose you don't get a pair of monocles :D


    Someone still has to work out the pants thing thou :scream:
     
  4. Mr Silver

    Mr Silver Commodore Newbie

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    I think the "pair of pants" thing is probably because there are two leg holes. Much like a "pair of gloves" although you can wear just one glove, whereas with pants (which I call trousers) you have to wear it over both legs (unless you want to look ridiculous :lol:).

    It could also be based on the concept of having two legs (a pair).
     
  5. Locutus of Bored

    Locutus of Bored Gandalf the Great at Social Distancing Moderator

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  6. scotpens

    scotpens Professional Geek Premium Member

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    And why is it just one bra?
     
  7. An Officer

    An Officer Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The English language never makes any sense - it's awful to people learning it as a second language. They wanted to make it extra difficult in order to weed out the morons. Unfortunately, this plan has suffered from its own success and many young English-born people do not speak English either, in favour of easier versions of the English language they have cobbled together themselves. Ya' ge' me, na'mean? :D
     
  8. K'Ehleyr

    K'Ehleyr Commodore Commodore

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    But a pair of gloves ~ there are two gloves! I understand that being referred to as 'a pair'. They are similar in design and fit on each hand - important part here...

    Whereas a pair of pants, trousers (I was appealing to the American audience here) only fit on one arse. So one arse ~ one trouser. A pair of gloves ~ two hands. Surely it's just logical :vulcan:

    Still doesn't clear it up for me but I adore anyone that starts a reply with "Fret not, my little anchovy."

    I will make it my quest to use that saying tomorrow at work :)

    quote from my friend with whom I was having this discussion "it is perplexing isn't it...trying to think of more - you don't say a pair of bras do you? Although in my case it it plausible..." :guffaw:

    I'll leave the rest to you imagination ;)
     
  9. K'Ehleyr

    K'Ehleyr Commodore Commodore

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    "init" :guffaw:

    I was so proud when a customer at Son's restaurant asked where he was schooled, where his parents lived, because he spoke so beautifully.

    Ah all those days of pretending to be the french policeman from 'Ello 'ello have paid off :D
     
  10. Locutus of Bored

    Locutus of Bored Gandalf the Great at Social Distancing Moderator

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    Eyeglasses are two independent parts (the lenses) connected together, so they're a pair of glasses.

    Pants started out as two separate hose you pulled on one at a time, so they're a pair.

    Shirts were always one piece, so they're singular.

    Panties and underwear are most closely associated with pants, so they're called a pair even though they're just one part.

    Bras are most closely associated with shirts, so they're singular.
     
  11. Holdfast

    Holdfast Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I can answer this one, at least.

    It's due to the historical evolution of the trouser. Trousers evolved from hose. Hose initially came like socks (indeed the word hosiery is still used for socks, stockings, nylons, and so on, though obviously more frequently in womenswear than menswear these day); that is, hose were two garments, one for each leg.

    They were joined at the top later, and then after a few more centuries, hose developed into breeches, and then onto the modern trouser. The description of them as a pair evolved from a pair of hose (physically accurate) onto a pair of trousers (not physically accurate).

    EDIT: I see Locutus has beaten me to the explanation just above. The one thing I'd amend is the reason for bra being singular; it's because the brassiere was developed in the 19th century as a less constricting corset substitute. As a corset is singular, so is a brassiere.

    EDIT 2: just remembered you're British, so using pair of pants for underwear. Knickers are plural for the same reason as trousers; they were historically crotchless but tied together at the waist, believe it or not. No, I'm not kidding!
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2011
  12. Kelso

    Kelso Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm glad the pant legs are attached. I have enough trouble keeping my socks together.
     
  13. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Admiral

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    "I put my bra on one boob at a time just like everybody else."
     
  14. Mary Ann

    Mary Ann Knitting is honourable Premium Member

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    ^Interesting! Thanks for that info, Holdfast.

    If I may be blunt, K'Eh, this is the type of discussion that usually occurs as a result of alcohol. Guilty? ;)
     
  15. K'Ehleyr

    K'Ehleyr Commodore Commodore

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    Maybe :alienblush:

    But come on ~ it is a point!
     
  16. Mary Ann

    Mary Ann Knitting is honourable Premium Member

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    :lol: Of course! I've been known to have discussions like this when completely sober, which is even worse. Certainly "bra" should be plural, because what goes in them tend to come in pairs.
     
  17. Miss Chicken

    Miss Chicken Little three legged cat with attitude Admiral

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    As the pants question has been answered I am going to ask another question about English.

    A few years ago an old man got on our local radio complaining about the pronunciation of the word 'margarine'. He thought it was wrong for the g in the word to sound like a j when it is followed by an A as no other word in English has such a pronunciation so he said he always pronounces it as mar-gar-rine. A few hours after I thought of the British spelling 'gaol' (jail). Can anyone think of another such word?
     
  18. K'Ehleyr

    K'Ehleyr Commodore Commodore

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    Why are bras associated with shirts? Apart from RoJo I have no other evidence that it is a male clothing aquirement.

    So can we just call them "trews"? Seems reasonable enough.

    And may I just titter at the "crotchless knickers" reference. Do men really find them sexy? I know Anne Summers has made a few £s from them, but surely it defeats the object of wearing panties :confused:


    :guffaw: Just have them all black ~ saves all the bother!

    Honey ~ never! You lean into your bra. Never do it one at a time else you'll end up lopsided ;) True!
     
  19. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Admiral

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    And nobody wants lopsided boobs.
     
  20. K'Ehleyr

    K'Ehleyr Commodore Commodore

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    I just call it butter :D

    And I had to Wiki gaol because I was under the impression that it was an American reference. I was wrong.

    So I just call it prison.

    We're English ~ we move the goal posts :) (That's with a 'g' not a 'j' ;)

    Apparently English is one of the worst languages to learn. And most of us haven't mastered it either :mallory:


    To RoJo ~ true dat! ;)
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2011