12 September 2011


Oh, very well. Bonnie Heather says I should start blogging again. Steve

agrees; he's got bored with sitting on my bedside table watching me

sleep at night. Yes, of course he can do that - he can see in the dark.

Stuffed animals have excellent night vision, in order to fulfil their role as

protectors of the innocent and the bane of bogeymen. You didn't know

that? Well, now you do.

Steve and I have been to California a couple of times in the last few

months, visiting with my man who's temporarily living in Geekville (aka

Silicon Valley). It was interesting getting to know a different part of the

world, and especially seeing the variety of the ethnic mix of people. You

know what surprised me? Black people- they talk "black"! And here I

thought that was just movie stereotypes. I even saw some that were

"acting black", you know, doing the "Yo, what's up, my man?" with

complicated hand slap. Really! I was thinking "Wow, they actually talk

like that! Who knew?" which is almost verbatim (in translation) what I

thought as a ten-year-old in Germany, having had a few months of

English instructions, overhearing an American mother in an

Autobahn rest stop saying to her little boy: "Come on, let's go back to

the car!" I was quite astonished that English-speaking people actually

use the word "car" for an automobile; here I'd thought that was just a line my teacher was feeding me.

It was actually quite funny, my surprise, and a bit embarrassing. I mean,

good grief, why shouldn't a distinct ethnic group have a distinct dialect?

Why was I so surprised at that? Sheer ignorance, I'm afraid. I frequently

shake my head at my own silly presuppositions. Up here in rural

Western Canada we don't have many black people, more's the pity; so

my experience with hearing the dialect has been mostly limited to TV.

Besides, I don't know if Canadian blacks use that dialect as much, or if

it's more of a US thing. (Incidentally, pardon me for the non-PC

terminology. It's mostly laziness; I prefer using the one-syllable

shorthand, "black" and "white", to the multi-syllable "Af-ri-can-A-me-

ri-can" or "Eu-ro-pe-an-Ca-na-di-an" etc etc. If it offends you, feel free

to substitute the polysyllabism of your choice as you read this.) I like

dialects, don't you? They're the auditory equivalent of skin tones and

hair textures and nose shapes. The world is so much more interesting

when there's variety.

And to prove he really did come along, here's Steve waiting at the airport for our connecting flight.

Life, the universe, and dialects. It's good to be back.