Travel is what brought myself and Jerry together 22 years ago. Naturally, being from two different continents there had to be ink drying on one of our passports for us to have met. That passport was mine and our wandering feet have been happily drifting together ever since. Even though we grew up 3,000 miles apart, our native tongue is the same – English, at least most of the time…
“England and America are two countries separated by the same language”
– George Bernard Shaw
Firstly I want to stress this is not a political platform. There is no need to point out that I am from Ireland. The piece is about how, even though we all speak the same language there are some stark contrasts in our use of the mother tongue.
It wasn’t that we hadn’t realised over our years together that we spell things differently and that I, especially have certain ways of saying things – “You say tomato (to-may-to) and I say tomato (to-mah-to)“. That tomato phrase is kind of lost unless you hear it but I think most people can see where I’m going with this; hopefully the italicised phonetics pronunciation help.
We each work on our own pieces and even when we collaborate on pieces the focus is on the content, or the selection and placement of the photos. It was really only when we decided to sit down together to proofread and thoroughly edit each post that our differing lexicon threw the proverbial “spanner in the works” (if you’re Irish/English), “monkey wrench in the works” (if you’re American).
Aside from noting who actually wrote each post, it doesn’t take too long into reading our pieces before little clues begin to appear as to the author’s identity. These appear predominantly in the form of spellings. You may notice the use of extra letters in certain words I use, for e.g. travellers, colour, flavour, or my preference for using ise as opposed to ize, for e.g. standardise versus standardize. Another tell-tale writer revealer is our differing on the placement of re and er, for e.g. I would say – Jerry is the centre of my world, and Jerry would say – I am the center of his world, except for when we are discussing punctuation.
For some reason the spelling differences are accepted on both sides and are nary a cause of issue. The squabbling and bickering starts with placement of punctuation. Neither of us have degrees in English, but it is our own stubborn belief in our own system of education, or at least what we remember from it that promotes some hefty discussions. So, admittedly we are somewhat ignorant, but we are each stalwart in our insistence of being in the right, leading to conflicting commas, colons, semi-colons and petty punctuation pedantry.
Our vocabulary does not define us but it can leave a lasting impression on those we encounter, whether it be through written media or an actual conversation. Our pieces tend to reflect our speech pattern, especially mine. I have a tendency to write long, run-on sentences which is very similar to how I talk, i.e. ramblingly. These sentences are cause for pause with punctuation placement.
Irregardless of our different use of the same language, we are in this together. By the way, irregardless carries it’s own controversy. I think, even with the double negative that it contains, I can use it as I have. Let me know if I’m wrong!
Writing and hoping you are producing quality, thought-provoking, insightful, humourous (or humorous) pieces is challenging unto itself. Trying to gain readership and then keep the reader engaged is difficult. When you can share the work-load, well, sometimes it can take a load off. Beyond blogging as a couple there is something way more sacred and intimate that is connecting you, not just as a couple, but as a commonality that ties you into the fabric of your blog.
You both share this common bond and memories that only you two are privy to, really. You two can look at each other, and know, that you are the only ones who can truly understand that moment from your travels that you may now be reiterating to your family and friends. Even if there were other folk with you from your hostel/hotel when you took some excursion, they most likely won’t be there as you each excitedly share and goad each other with travel details. It is in these moments as you relive your adventures together those differences in language (and punctuation) fade into a realm of irrelevance.