Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What the bloody sodding hell is a jumper anyway?

January 16, 2008

Here at The London School, not surprisingly, most (probably all, but I don’t know) of our textbooks teach British English. Now in general, I do a LOT of reading, and many of my favorite authors are British. As such, I haven’t had too much trouble assimilating to phrases like “Have you got any biscuits?” (or even “Have you any biscuits?”) instead of “Do you have any cookies?” (although every time a student says “biscuits” I inevitably think the fluffy buttermilk kind), talking about what people do “at the weekend” as opposed to “on the weekend” (or simply “this/last weekend”), and saying sport instead of sports and maths instead of math... but can someone please tell me what the hell a jumper is? 

See, when I was a kid, a “jumper” was like a dress, but I needed to wear a shirt under it. My childhood jumpers often had tops similar to the top part of overalls, and would’ve been indecent had I not worn a shirt underneath. However, as far as I can tell from our grainy photocopied textbooks, that is very much NOT what the British consider to be a jumper. The British jumper might be a sweater. Or possibly a generic shirt or pullover. All I can tell is that it is some kind of unisex top. I think. I checked my Russian dictionary to see if perhaps it might provide me with a Russian word I recognized, but all I found was джемпер, a simple transliteration of jumper into Cyrillic. My students didn’t know what a джемпер could possibly be either. Bah. So if you know, please feel free to enlighten me.

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