Saturday, January 2, 2010
Human anatomy part one: Breasts
So you're in a social scenario when it becomes necessary to talk about breasts. This happens a lot in America. Hopefully this guide will help.
In Japanese, there are linguistic levels of formality for many scenarios. Not so much in America, but when it comes to breasts, formality is of the utmost importance. Mostly, it depends upon if you yourself wield a pair.
In a casual/friendly scenario
Let's say you are a woman
In most cases, you will call them your "boobs." Not a very attractive word, huh? But it is sort of a round and silly word, kind of like boobs themselves. Men should not say "boobs" because the word has an irreverent, self-deprecating quality that just doesn't make sense because men love boobies so much (boobies is a diminutive word for boobs, which men canuse, however. Note my natural switch to "boobies.")
So, let's say you are a man
Here, it really depends on your age. Most men under thirty should say something like "tits" or the diminutive "titties." It is slightly rude, but has a sexual connotation that "boobs" and "breasts" do not. It is appropriate to use this word in an intimate scenario. An antiquated substitution for "tits" is "jugs," but it has an unglamorous implication that a woman will probably not appreciate.
A formal scenario
In an educational, political or workplace scenario, "breasts" is the only appropriate term. However, carefully analyze a scenario before you say "breasts." It is also a slightly negative term because it is connected to a popular part of the chicken that brings to mind an image of raw, slimy pink meat. In extremely awkward/formal scenarios, it might be better to opt for "chest," a gender-neutral term.
As you can see, there's currently no wholly desirable word for breasts in the English language, so speak carefully!