Monday, March 20, 2006

Tom is (pt4) .. English

Here's an interesting observation that will be news to almost all of you. It's probably fairly unique to my generation and to those of us that have emmigrated from England. While growing up in England, we were heavily conditioned to consider ourselves "British" and from "The United Kingdom". While on holiday abroad and asked where we were from we'd pipe up with "the UK".

As we merge into Canadian culture (rapidly becoming a global mix in the urban multicultural glory of Vancouver), our Englishness re-emerges from our Britishness, and I will always now answer "England". Please comment if you've noticed this, and conduct your own field tests with English tourists vs immigrants.

On opening my mouth, it's hard to hide the Home Counties English accent .. and yet of course as any immigrant or tourist from England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand knows, we are often mistaken for each other (by an American or Canadian). If I had a penny for the number of times someone has asked "are you from Australia?", I'd have bought Liz a very large cake by now. Of course I do wear billabong and quiksilver quite a bit. Luckily Aussie Tim often gets asked if he's English, so I think it balances out OK.

One last mention in this particular post must go to vocabulary. Canadian English is of course distinct, and mixes American and British English rather confusingly. There is a certain pride that some standards have been maintained from the extreme US bastardisation of the world's most confusing and wonderful language. Most notably the letter "Zed" is still in tact. However when I say I'm tired, surely I'm not meaning that I have new rubber wheels fitted? Feel free to read more in wikipedia (the internet's most inticing timewaster).

A fundamental issue that is currently threatening the life expectancy of our dear Joel, does not even get a mention in the internet pages on this topic. When I say "stay on the pavement", the poor boy runs right out into the middle of the road, as any good, honest and obedient Canadian should. To all that are hoping we will hang on to beautifully crafted English, we apolgoise. For reasons of familial longevity, and also simply to be understood, we are having to adapt a little. Actually, I have to commend our North American friends for the accuracy of the term sidewalk . It is unambiguous, conclusive and descriptive, and very easy to establish its meaning, even if you've never been shown one before.

The Youth Group particularly want me to maintain some of my great English standards. The terms "faff about" and "whinge" are TOTALLY foreign to canadians, but they love 'em! And just you try going a week in youth ministry without using both of those terms ;o)

This post is brought to you (I hope) entirely in English English, apart from the necessary quote of sidewalk. Please Ed, Matt, or any other true Englanders, check the work thoroughly to ensure I still am able. There will be very few pure posts on this blog!
Tom is (pt5) .. a boy

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