Friday, March 4, 2016

Let's Call The Whole Thing Off

4th March 2016

As I was young and easy under the apple boughs, I was granted a place on a summer exchange program from Edinburgh University to Dartmouth College. I think the film "Animal House" was based on life at Dartmouth in New Hampshire, though it is not atypical of Ivy League colleges, and I inevitably ended up at one point in a fraternity - a new concept in itself for me - where a group of frat boys gathered round to hear my "funny" English.
    "Say something," they goaded.
    "I don't know, how about the rain in Spain," upon which they fell about in hysterics (the green Frat juice being passed about might have had something to do with it, too!) But it was my introduction to the phenomenon George Bernard Shaw described as "Two countries separated by the same language."
"Or what Dylan Thomas called, "Two nations divided by a common language." 

Acknowledging creator of this poster

When I was working through my book with my editor at Simon&Schuster, most of what I had to correct was my British English. And I have to say it grated on me. I kept feeling something like, "Look, we invented the bleeding language!"  Just like I resist American citizenship and cling to my green card, I refuse to adapt to the English spoken in my adopted country. 
So, although you say tomaydas, I will always say tomahtoes, thank you very much. 


I have to admit there are certain things I have had to change: for instance, nappies to diapers, but only because it is too unproductive in the supermarket to ask for  "bin liners," etc. Say, what? Trash bags, then. 
And then by necessity, you can't help but go with the flow when it comes to rubbers. No, not those - I mean erasers. I suppose I should follow the Trump mandate and just go home. To which I say, "Chance, old pal, would be a fine thing."

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