Wednesday, 27 February 2008

I can feel the outside world

Readers of this blog must have noticed that while I’m living in Australia, my English is very much American English oriented as opposed to the British English used in Australia.
Sure, I do say “crap” often, and that’s an English English thing I’ve adopted from Jo (I consider it a tamer and less of an antisocial version of “shit”). I also say “lift” instead of “elevator” and I use some English English baby terms such as “nappy” instead of “diaper” and “dummy” instead of “pacifier”. The baby terms can be explained by the fact these are words I hardly used before so I just used what people around me use, but generally speaking examples for me sticking to grass roots American English are much more plentiful: I say “TV” instead of “tele”, for “schedule” I say “skedule” and not “shedual”, and for “assume” I say “assume” as opposed to “ashume”. In writing I’m even more American: I write “center” and not “centre”, I write “color” and not “colour”, I have my internet favorites and I don’t have any internet favourites, and I apologize as opposed to apologise.
The difference between an oral expression and a written one is not some trivial affair; it is well established that different parts of the brain handle those tasks, so the way you talk can be significantly different to the way you write. I think that is definitely the case in my case.
Whichever way you look at it, my English is a mixed bag with an overall American dominance. The story of this world.
One thing I don’t ever do is use authentic Australian phrases in speech. I never say “no worries”, for example, because (a) it sounds really bad with my accent and (b) I’m against the no worries philosophy in principle; if someone tells me “no worries”, I’m worried. I don’t say “mate”, although I have been known to use the word in writing while joking about people that dare call one another mate even if they don't know one another. And I never speak the word “bloke”; I can't even pronounce it properly. Maybe I have used it in writing once or twice for mocking an Australian, but that would be it.

Why is it, then, that my new big boss – that is, my manager’s manager – has been expressing his unhappiness to various people (some of whom have discussed the matter with my manager), claiming that I have introduced myself to him with “oh, so you’re that new bloke?”
I really don’t know. My direct manager told me I’ve made a big mistake and I immediately pointed out that it was impossible for me to do so (and he immediately acknowledged). However, given that this is all rumor (and not rumour) based, I’m in no real position to defend myself. That is, how can I walk to the guy and ask him "say, aren't you the bloke that's been spreading false rumors about me, mate?"
First impressions do count, and whatever happens - even if he realizes/realises I wasn't who I was supposed to be - I will always raise certain doubts in said manager’s head.
The thing that troubles me is the realization (and not the realisation) that my working environment, although technically quite comfortable, is also a pretty sick one. An organization or an organisation that starts with blocking its employees access to the internet and continues by spreading unsubstantiated rumors; both are symptoms of the same problem.
I wonder if I should start thinking my way out.

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