Friday, October 01, 2010

Cultural Schizophrenia?

Long convo with my good friend and editing guru Stephanie yesterday from which a dilemma arose. Thought I'd discuss it with ya'll.

The initial statement in this entry is illustrative of the issue which concerns me. If I mix metaphors, i.e. dialects of English, does that choice have a negative effect on readers? Of course, the real issue is far more substantive. The discussion is really about whether I have become planetary - that is, do I today represent an amalgam of cultures after living in two hemispheres or are my language choices an affectation causing reader discomfort?

Am I an American who happens to live and write about my experience in Australia or am I an Australian permanent resident who happens to visit America seasonally? I know, I know. I'm both, but my friends, acquaintances, and readers in both cultures may wish me to acknowledge where my loyalty lies and that means which dialect is default.

In DAS BOOK, which is currently entitled Searching for Authenticity - A Journey to Australia Times Two, on occasion I revert to some Australian vernacular causing an American reader some mild concern. After all, who is the author - American or ex pat?

Thus is the fate of those of us who refuse to live our lives and consult our sensitivities in more than one culture. We offend even as we attempt to satisfy our social contacts on both continents. No one would mind if an American in France were to sometimes relinquish her native tongue to add a French phrase here and there, but if one is travelling in another English speaking culture, it seems necessary to remain loyal to ones birth tongue. Urgh!!

Sounds a bit like my mother being outraged with my behaviour after I moved to California from Michigan years ago. I gave up the 'r' in warsh for the more west coast 'wash' and said out loud that I preferred the mountains and desert of the west coast to the swamplands and industrial mayhem of Michigan. Mother thought me a deserter; death by firing squad at dawn.

So, this being an author requires me to decide if , to satisfy an American audience, I must also give up my favourite Aussieisms — cuppa, convo, and demountable — in order to satisfy my American readers.