Her indoors

Mark Mandel Mark.A.Mandel at GMAIL.COM
Fri Nov 6 19:06:55 UTC 2009

Ah! Thank you for mentioning "him indoors". I was reading the "her" of "her
indoors" as the possessive adjective, rather than as the objective/emphatic
pronoun. It makes much more sense this way, parallel to constructions like
"her over there with the St. Bernard" and "Hey there, you with the stars in
your eyes".

Mark A. Mandel

On Fri, Nov 6, 2009 at 9:35 AM, Lynne Murphy <m.l.murphy at sussex.ac.uk>wrote:

> 'Her indoors' is a common expression in British English, I've seen it a lot
> since moving here.  There were a pair of columns in the Independent when I
> first moved here, I think (that's 2000), that played on it: Her
> Outdoors/Him Indoors.  One also sees 'him indoors' for
> househusbands/stay-at-home dads.
> I wouldn't have associated it with Asia--I've seen no connections between
> the expression and that continent myself, but would be suspicious of
> Ireland--since for some reason it reminds me of the Irish non-reflexive use
> of 'him/herself'.  Various websites claim it came from/was popularized by a
> comedy series, Minder (1979-1994), set among London gangsters (for which
> one usually reads 'East End').
> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minder_(TV_series)<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minder_%28TV_series%29>
> >
> Lynne
> --On 05 November 2009 01:13 -0500 "Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET>
> wrote:
> > I see the OED Wordhunt shows "her indoors" = "[my] wife" etc. First
> > citation: 1979. Supposedly an expression adopted from a taxi driver ....
> >
> > I have never heard this "her indoors" myself, but my first thought is
> > that it looks like a calque from Chinese. I suppose it's old-fashioned
> > now, but a conventional Chinese expression meaning "my wife" is "nei
> > ren", which I would gloss syllable-for-syllable "inside person", close
> > enough to "her indoors" since it would only apply to a woman and since
> > (I think) it is generally reckoned that the "nei" here means "inside the
> > house/home". Note that it's "my wife", not just "[some] wife".
> >
> > Similarly, Japanese "kanai" means "my wife". I think the kanji can be
> > glossed "house-inside".
> >
> > Of course I'm not the first to notice the parallel: e.g., one can see
> > the English and Japanese terms opposed by Googling <<"her indoors"
> > kanai>>.
> >
> > Apparently (no surprise) there are Korean equivalents too.
> >
> > Maybe this expression came from Chinese-influenced English (e.g., that
> > of Singapore)? Or from a cabby from (say) Taiwan? Or one who's studied
> > Chinese or Japanese? Or maybe it's a calque from some other language, of
> > (say) India? Given the late date of "her indoors", I doubt parallel
> > evolution in English.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list