Friday, 28 March 2014

Writing - Deliberate misinterpretation and cultural differences

When we write we do so influenced by such subconscious factors as dialect and local cultural idioms. There is a question about how you handle these factors if you are writing for an international market. I often find myself brought up short when referring to different parts of a car and how much confusion it could cause across the pond. Such things as boot for trunk and bonnet for hood spring to mind but I have heard from a relative about something much more amusing. She did an exchange with a teacher from South Dakota who came to work in Yorkshire. The English girl went to the States and took up the corresponding teaching role in a Magnet school. She was confused and somewhat embarrassed when one of her charges made a mistake and couldn't correct it without an eraser which he didn't have. My relative asked the class if anyone had a 'rubber' he could borrow! What a furore!
There is a deal of fun to be had misinterpreting what people say in everyday life such as toasting pine nuts. Read on.

I love toasted pine nuts but its a bit hard getting them out of the machine when they're ready.
Then of course there is the rubber band - have you ever heard one?

The curse of the writer is such that you can't go anywhere without hearing or seeing. That may seem obvious but all of the senses seem to be heightened towards possibilities and collect snippets of conversation, views and more. Not everything is useful but you can't unhear something. I was seated in a restaurant eating breakfast when I overheard a conversation between three people, two elderly, concerning the NHS in our area. Of no great interest in itself, three people lamenting the demise of our nearest facility and having to travel on a 2 or 4 bus journey to reach the other two hospitals. The one factor that was worrying was that one of the elderly people didn't know where a town no more than twenty miles away was situated. From her accent she was local, but it just goes to show how intensely parochial humans can be if they are secure in their place. If there is no need to visit a place or if you have never had business there, why would you need to know about it? How far does that type of boundary stretch?

In Vietnam

A very unromantic Brit attempted a large romantic gesture for his beautiful Vietnamese wife one day by purchasing a bunch of – what he thought – cheerful yellow flowers. Unbeknownst to the chap these flowers are used to honour the death of a close loved one and are regularly put on ancestral shrines. The wife ended up in tears; he ended up covered in petals and shame.

Does society care? In the UK 7 000 000 people are not on the internet. The news over the last two days has been dominated by the report into the activities of the massive energy companies. We're constantly being exhorted to switch companies in search of a better deal and they always begin their advice by saying 'just go online'! A ninth of our population can't do that!! Hello!!! Am I the only one aware of that statistic?
The canker worm that is the internet, to some people, has weadled its way into the fabric of society and cut out a significant number of disinterested folk!

On VG today.

God Bless