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Monthly Archives: May 2013

I just wrote in a comment to a blog about North American fork usage, I think I should just go to bed or something. There was lots of mystified pondering on the subject of why americans switch their fork to their left hand when they’re just eating with a fork, and people saying things like it being an older etiquette tradition that only the right hand delivers food. I can see that being true, history has a strange aversion to left-handedness. Case in point, in choir today, I conducted a piece, and one of the tenors noted that I conducted southpaw, and as I sat down, reassured me that many great people are left-handed, himself included (I laughed rather derisively on the inside).

Me, I think the modern convention is really just because most people are right handed. I’ve never heard an adult tell a child who kept their fork in their left hand to switch to their right hand, but I have heard parents tell their struggling right-handed children that it is perfectly acceptable to switch their fork to their right hand when not using a knife.

THIS IS SO EXCITING

SO EXCITING I’M GOING TO EXPLODE

SO FOR ALL YOU CANADIANS BORN AFTER 2000

THIS IS VIENNETTA CAKE:

SWEET JESUS LOOK AT THAT

I USED TO HAVE IT A LONG TIME AGO WHEN I WAS VERY YOUNG

AND THEN IT WASN’T IN STORES ANYMORE

AND WE COULDN’T FIND IT IN THE STATES

SO I FIGURED VIENNETTA WAS GONE FOREVER

IT’S SERIOUSLY THE MOST DELICIOUS THING I’M SALIVATING RIGHT NOW

UNCONTROLLABLY

LOOK AT THAT

AND LO, A RADIANT LIGHT BEAMED DOWN FROM THE HEAVENS

DELICIOUSNESS RIGHT THERE

YOU CAN GET IT IN THE UK

MY DOUBTS ABOUT EXCHANGING AND CROSSING AN OCEAN ARE OVER 

BECAUSE YOU CAN GET IT OVER THE OCEAN

SO I’M GOING TO HAVE TO BOARD THAT FUCKING PLANE

BECAUSE LOOK AT THAT CAKE

THIS IS A TRIUMPH

 

I found a new blog, run by a group of Guardian-US people and Guardian-Guardian people, which is about the differences in English on different sides of the atlantic. I found a lot of their posts interesting for a few reasons, one being that it seems that Canada is more on the fence than I thought – I had figured we’d be essentially american in language use. There are also interesting hints of cultural differences in there, like this post on manners:

http://english2english.tumblr.com/post/50105486287/on-manners

It basically characterizes Americans as

An american trying to figure out the best way to get food to his mouth

and this:

I don’t actually do this, I’m the freak who eats chicken legs/ribs with a knife and fork. I absolutely hate grease on my fingers.

[I’m also going to interject that I eat pizza with a knife and fork when given the chance, and it is not polite-looking – I do it because I hate pizza sauce (one of these days I’m ordering a sauceless pizza) enough to perform surgery on pizza in order to remove as much sauce as possible. I also used to perform multiple blueberry-ectomies on blueberry muffins, but I’m gradually getting over the blueberries, so I can do the whole thing with just a knife now. I really prefer eating muffins with a knife and fork though, wow I’m weird. ]

and British people as this:

English kids, trying their best to lull you into a false sense of security, they’re CLEARLY evil, look at all those evil little faces

There’s some obvious bias here, the entire thing is written by Guardian people, and I’m betting most of the US writers are either expats or anglophiles, so they’re going to find the nastiest US pictures they can lay their fryer-greasy fingers on, and include the most improbably polite-looking british pictures they can find. I can’t really tell how true this is. Though that american guy looks better at eating than I am, I am the worst. Funny story, I once was eating lunch with a knight, and it was all I could do not to get those damned peas and scalloped potatoes and the ham all over myself…

But I’m not typical for Canada, I am remarkably awful.

They were also saying that American kids will say things like “Nah, I’m stuffed”, or “sure” when asked if they want more food, whereas apparently English kids say “yes please” and “no thank you”. This does complicate my worldview somewhat, as I was led to believe that British children are horrible, horrible evil little fiends** who dish out the sort of mayhem and rudeness that North American kids only see on TV. Then again, I’m rather biased.

I’m inclined to not take this entire thing seriously – I’ll go “nah, I’m stuffed” when I’m stuffed and I’m with my own family/friends, but if we’re having my overly-prim extended family for dinner, or worse, eating at their house, yeah, I’ll try my best to remember how manners work. My table manners are overall atrocious, though, so I always get the stink-eye from my mother, at least…

**though I will say there is nothing like an English kid saying “stupid”, it cracks me up every time

Edit: I’m looking at the picture of the English kids again, and while doubtless they are trying to look as nice as possible (that’s how evil they are), going by the posture of their hands, lack of elbows on the table while eating, and the fact that their food is actually on their plates and not the table, the floor, or themselves, they’re using their cutlery, the plates actually look breakable, and none of the elements in the picture suggests that there is an income disparity between people featured – I may have to concede that they give the appearance of being more civilized than their Canadian public-school counterparts in terms of table manners.

me: I bet you’ll be happy if I don’t get into the exchange program   (because they’ll miss me so much)

my mom: you know we want you to get in

my dad: – actually –

my mom: but you’ll have plenty of opportunities if you don’t

my dad: – actually, we’re pretty excited, we’re gonna go into your room, crack open all the stuff

my mom: get a hazmat team

my dad: it’ll be great!

my mom: and there will be less mess, and we’ll get to eat spicy food, and there won’t be any more 1 am showers

Thanks, parents, thanks.

I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear a noise?

I wish it was a noise of relief – I’m not sure if that feeling I have in my stomach is hunger or the aforementioned ulcer. I’m not sure whether this will make the ulcer better, no doubt there were better ways I could have phrased things. Augh! I cannot win! Well, perhaps tension has dissipated slightly, now I have only to obsessively watch my applications and hope they will both go through. I really hope I haven’t done something wrong or fallen off of Queen’s system, or caused anybody’s admin to malfunction – I do that. For instance, the only proof that I attended high school is the diploma I had them print me after I didn’t attend my graduation and they didn’t have me on a list of graduates and they never mailed me a diploma.

The beginning was supposed to be from Macbeth Act 2, scene 2. I was Macbeth once. I’m pretty sure I was only Macbeth because I was capable of remembering all the lines (eight years ago) and pronouncing the words. It wasn’t a direct quote, I felt like doing it even though I knew it was bad and that I could be justly slain for such foul treachery.

I almost had a heart attack yesterday – I searched up the application requirements yesterday, and it said “Applications for 2013/2014 are now closed” and I NEARLY DIED.

ahhh

That was me right there. Click it for full effect, I am saddened by WordPress’s inability to handle gifs. However, before I bluescreened, I looked up the dates for incoming exchange students, and I was relieved. Still July 1st. Bullet dodged. I already picked courses (because I have a half-baked application), and I’m hoping I won’t have lost them – I doubt it, since I don’t need to fill out that window again. But I’m going to try to submit by the time I go to sleep tonight, this whole process is going to give me an ulcer.

For some silly reason, an inordinate amount of the books I read growing up and now were written across the ocean, so I have a pretty good intuitive grasp of the subtle differences in writing style between North American and British English. Canadian English is itself rather middle-of-the-road, and I’ve been trying to subtly write at least somewhat britishly. Now, if I was me reading this post, I’d let out a huge groan and go “uuuu(rrr?)gghhhh, that’s going to be just awful, nobody from around here gets it right, you’re an embarrassment to Canada”, and that may well be true (hopefully not the embarrassment to Canada part), but I have some skill as a mimic of style in writing. I’ve read enough, and I spent a large portion of my life not even knowing that certain types of words and turns of phrase even were British, and not merely quaint and old-fashioned. I used them despite their perceived antiquity, and then phased them out of regular use once I learned they were british. I didn’t want to be That Person. So I’m not terribly worried. I then set my spell-checker to U.K English, and there was not a single red line. Verily, I am ninja.

I am starting to get that thing where I don’t feel like I know how to use words anymore, which is highly unusual for me since I am known for being good at it. However, I’ve graded essays for money.  I’ve seen how non-first-year humanities students write, I could confidently go head-to-head with most students, and I sincerely doubt that there is such a jump in quality across the pond that I would have a problem.

Bah. I don’t think I’ll be able to make it any better than it is. Thus far it contains a declaration that I want to be a future researcher, their courses are awesome, I play lots of British music already, I know the ridiculous musical terms, and that someone whose relationship to me could be succinctly described as my mad uncle* is probably largely culpable for me wanting to go there specifically.

Things I didn’t mention are the entirety of my quasi-family, and how when I look back, there is a frighteningly large amount of UK-originated subliminal influencing going on.

*I know you know who you are because of the face and hilarious noise you just made. 

Scotland, there’s a difference, you know. People’ll get angry if you say England and you actually mean Scotland. “Britain” is generally okay, “UK” works.

I fly down to Edinburgh at a specific date in early September. I still need to finish the damn application essay. It’s always those last few sentences, I aim to have it done by the end of this weekend. Says I.

And my passport application still hasn’t reached Washington, alas. For some silly reason all north american passport applications are done out of D.C. I’m a bit miffed, the Queen is actually on our money, so we should be the ones to have a processing center. They don’t even make them in D.C, they make them somewhere in Britain. Hmmph.

Tomorrow, I’ll get the thing done tomorrow, preferably before my house is overrun by Scottish people  and I may be asked about it. What is this about the scottish people, you ask? I will almost certainly write a thing tomorrow, but it has to do with extended quasi-family, and their visiting family. I use “quasi-family” for people who I have a family-type relationship – in the case of these people, my parents have been friends with them for well over two decades, and I’ve seen more of them than I have of actual aunts and uncles. I used to be best friends with their daughter, and the overall type of interaction is that of extended family that also generally like each other’s company. My blood-and-various-people’s-marriages extended family is made up of decent enough people, but the dinners are rather awkward, since nobody would voluntarily interact were they not related. For some silly reason most of my quasi-family is some kind of British. It’s just the way my life works.