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Separated by a Common Language

Bead Embroidered Circle Earrings. Candy 2-hole beads, seed beads, 3-cut beads, gold chain. Image copyright © Rose Rushbrooke.

While chatting to my little Thursday evening beading group, one of my Zoomer buddies pointed out she had been hiccupped by a mis-spelling in the pattern we were working on.

As a sideline I am pretending to be someone I am not yet i.e.. a bead pattern writer and teacher. (Got the gear, now got to get the mental goods to proceed in a forward direction …). And this means testing my written patterns with serious bead fairies. And as another aside – I have enough trouble getting the point across to my own American husband of over 25 years, imagine multiplying this disconnect 6 fold or more…? Writing beading instructions, or any instructions for that matter, takes guts.

Back to the discussion at hand: my bead fairy had hardly read through a sentence of the instructions before she hit upon the ‘spelling’ mistake which made her lose the thread.

I had written ‘specialised’ applique scissors under the Tools section.

Do you see the problem? I write in English. Not American. She got caught with the ‘S’ in specialised. The USA uses ‘Z’ in place of “S” and so it looks odd to the American eye. What is even more interesting is this lady is born Canadian. I suspect she is therefore sensitised (see the naughty ‘s’ in there?) to abnormalities in her adopted country. Just like I am. However, she brought up an excellent point.

The following observation is reputed to have been attributed to George Bernard Shaw (although nowhere in his writings has it been found) :-

“England and America are two countries separated by the same language.”

Not only do the two countries use many different spellings such as dropping the ‘U’ in colour, or flipping the ‘ER’ around as in ‘center‘, ‘ or ‘theater‘, but there are many, many idiosyncratic words and sayings which apply only to one country.

All the above to bring up the question – In what language should I write my bead patterns?

Much personal internal debate went on, along the lines of – But I’m primarily British so why shouldn’t I write in my own language? Or – yes, but you live in America (and have American citizenship) and you know how irritated you get if someone who does not use English/American as their first language won’t adapt to their adopted country. And what about – But then why do we, as Americans, bend over backwards to accommodate Spanish speaking, Korean speaking, Chinese speaking, every other kind of speaking population but dis the Brit?

I am inclined towards the following quote which lines up with my final decision:

“It is a misfortune for Anglo-American friendship that the two countries are supposed to have a common language. A Frenchman in America is not expected to talk like an American, but an Englishman speaking his mother tongue is thought to be affected and giving himself airs.”

Bertrand Russell writing for The Saturday Evening Post

English is a different language. I am English, not Scottish, not Irish, not Welsh, not Cornish. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is just like the United States of America in that we are a disparate collection of states/kingdoms under one rule.

I am constantly aware my elocution and pronunciation, along with the particular phrases I grew up with, are an interest for those who meet me. It can get old when yet another checkout person asks me “Where are you from?” (they mix me up with Australian, New Zealanders, and South Africans). Or I get told they ‘lurve yer axet”. My response is usually – learned it from birth, would you like me to teach you?

These UK spellings, sayings etc. are intrinsic to my personality. They are part of me. And so I say:

ENJOY THE DIVERGENCE. ENJOY THE CHARACTER BEHIND THE WORDS. ENJOY THE HICCUP MOMENTS.

They give you a look into a different world and viewpoint. And into an original creator who enjoys offering you something slightly different. Not all bead patterns are made the same!

I am not giving myself airs – whatever you might think. I just speak English.