0

Generally speaking, the phrase "That's easy for you to say" is used when one needs to say that things aren't as simple for him as some other person suggests. The definition clearly suggests there's a dismissive tone to the phrase.

But what about the following dialogue, I don't quite get how they've used it here;

[A little bit of a backstory first, There's this guy who's got quite a reputation amongst girls and many guys look upto him for his confidence.]

Now, he is walking with a girl, and the following dialogue takes place,

Guy: So, I was thinking we should have a dinner date at that new diner, Dinner.

(Dinner is the name of the diner he just mentioned)

Girl: That's easy for you to say...(Then they both laugh)

I don't really understand its usage here, and if the phrase is used dismissively then why is it paired with humour?

Thank You for Your Answers!

4
  • It's a punning congratulatory comment on someone negotiating a non-contrived tongue-twister with aplomb. On Red Dwarf, Rimmer commented (and this was probably unscripted) "I never expected to hear you say that" when Cat at long last managed a fiendishly difficult tongue-twister. Dec 1, 2020 at 14:43
  • Girl may also be hinting that Guy is asking her for a date without actually asking: It's easy to say we should have a date, but did he just ask her out? To appreciate humor, you have to be a little less literal. For example, "Dinner is the name of the diner he just mentioned" is a surprise, but clear enough to most readers without further explanation. Dec 1, 2020 at 14:59
  • Try the reverse. When you're on the phone and can't speak freely because people may overhear you, say "It's hard to say" to mean I can't say it right now. Dec 1, 2020 at 15:02
  • 1
    @Edwin Ashworth - I've traced it back to British comedians Morecombe and Wise. Out of interest I might try to find an episode where Eric says it to Ernie. Meanwhile, I found this pinterest.co.uk/pin/319192692316029728 Dec 1, 2020 at 17:13

1 Answer 1

2

This is an example of a well-known and long-standing joke that is based on the changing the meaning of the original saying.

Firstly, the phrase, " ... dinner date at that new diner, Dinner" is almost a tongue-twister because of the repeated "d" and the difference in pronunciation between dinner and diner.

When someone says something that is difficult to pronounce, the other may reply, ironically, "That's easy for you to say!" The listener implies that (a) it wasn't easy to say (irony) and (b) that they themselves would be unable to say it correctly.

This can be said, whether the speaker said the phrase perfectly, or whether they stumbled over their words.


History of the humorous use of the phrase

I am old to enough to remember the British comedy duo, Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise. They were hugely popular on British TV in the 1970's and 80's.

Eric Morecambe in particular had a number of catchphrases, For example, I quote (my emphasis):

Much of the material of the Morecambe and Wise shows consisted of their well-worn catch phrases that recurred like motifs throughout their career. Barely a show would go by without Eric referring to Ernie's "short, fat, hairy legs",[6] or pointing out that "you can't see the join", where Ernie's supposed wig was attached. Eric never seemed to tire of offering his partner some "Tea, Ern?". This was a pun on "tea urn", a vessel for serving hot drinks used in workplaces. If anyone fluffed their line, Eric would usually say, "That's easy for you to say!" or "You can say that again". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morecambe_and_Wise

Note that the idiom. "You can say that again", is also used in a non-standard and joking way by Eric Morecambe.

Whether this phrase predates the TV show, I can't say. However these comedians worked together as far back as the 1940's. Therefore I think it highly likely.

3
  • 1
    Thanks for that Blazingly Fast Reply Chasly!
    – Bambara
    Dec 1, 2020 at 14:50
  • I guess I'm missing that piece of information you mentioned in the first line, and if it is well-known, then, uh, that would you mind elaborating on that?
    – Bambara
    Dec 1, 2020 at 18:13
  • @Bambara - Duly elaborated! Ask if you need more details. Dec 1, 2020 at 18:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.