That title caught your attention, didn't it?
(First let me take a moment to welcome the visitors who googled "French underwear" and were very disappointed to land on a website about language learning. No, don't leave so soon! You just got here! I don't think you're all perverts, really I don't.)
Because I haven't been around many native French speakers since Griffin was born, I rely on dictionaries, wordreference.com, and one child-rearing book in French to brush up my vocabulary. There are SO many essential words and phrases concerning babies and toddlers that I never learned in college! ("Griffin had a diaper blow-out all over his onsie while he was sitting in his bouncy seat," for example, or "We can tell that Griffin's entering the Terrible Twos by the increase of frequency and volume of his tantrums and the amount of yogurt that ends up on the floor during every meal as he conducts experiments in physics despite our assurance that yogurt is delicious and gravity still works, no you don't need to check just in case. Oh, and also because of the number of times we look out the front window to see if there are any Gypsies passing to whom we could sell him. Cheap.")
Anyway, this vocabulary word has been on my mind for a couple of weeks, ever since we started reading Un petit pot pour un grand garcon (a board book whose title translates as "A Little Potty for a Big Boy") and the grand garcon in question proudly wears his big-boy underpants at the end of the book. His "culotte." His culotte?
Now, when I lived in France and had to shop for unmentionables, I learned that men wear a slip and women wear a culotte. Hang on--so boys wear culottes too, but graduate to slips as they age? (What do little girls start off with, then? Culottettes?) Or have I just missed out on on the latest Continental cutting-edge undergarment lingo during this past decade and a half in the States?
It's not that we're starting to potty train Griffin--nowhere near that. But he likes to help me sort laundry and identify the garments, and right now he refers to both his father's and my underwear as a slip. I don't want to keep reminding him that my underthings are culottes if he's later going to get confused when his undies look like Daddy's but have the same name as Maman's. The dictionaries I have consulted only complicate matters. (I should have expected that--wasn't it the French who invented, or at least named, lingerie?)
So someone, please, take pity on me and my undergarment nomenclature dilemma (and my poor readers who have been subjected to waaaaay more paragraphs about undies than is appropriate for a G-rated blog with an educational bent). Would a native or near-native speaker of French familiar with men's, women's, and children's underwear please let me know what to call the darn things?
Thanks. I promise I won't write about this topic again for at least another year.