Monday, January 27, 2014

A Gentle Lesson in Culture

Hello friends!

I am in a good place today. By that, I mean that while it's another frigid day out there (school has been canceled for the fourth day this winter) and the kids are at home with me, which means high levels of fun but low (if at all) levels of personal productivity, I've finished that Chinese blouse. AT LAST. Without losing my mind. Well, not all of it, anyway.

Unfortunately, it is too cold to model the thing and take photos. It is too cold to even send Fleur out in my place to model the thing and take photos. And my house has dungeon lighting that will not do justice to all those hours of work. So, everyone: pray for Spring so we can all see the blouse, okay?

Culturally exotic as that blouse sounds, it is not the subject of today's post. Today's post is about a recent comment I received. I've said in the past that I get all kinds of comments to my posts. The ridiculous spam ones aside, there are, literally, all kinds - questions about topics or a particular post, requests for recommendations of shops at which to buy specialty materials, a lovely story about your kids, an account of your sewing evolution, a shared link to a gorgeous cardboard exhibition, an expression of gratitude for a free pattern, a kind pointing-out of a typo, a passionate rebuttal of one of my views. And then, there was this one that came a couple of days ago, in response to this post:

At first, I thought I'd politely and discreetly delete it so as to avoid embarrassing the writer, but then I thought it was too good not to share, especially since the person's convenient anonymity offers him/her some level of immunity to said embarrassment. 

Gentle lesson #1:
It depends on which side of the pond it is from which one hails, friend.
(Although the whole world does agree that "learned" is the form of the word used to describe a highly educated person.) Perhaps this link might be helpful for further enlightenment.

Gentle lesson #2:
One should perhaps have written:
"... it is "learned", not "learnt"..."
Those double quotation marks (not to mention commas) can be tricky to place, can't they?

Ah, culture. That nebulous thing of which we are all the product, and usually unconsciously so.


  1. LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL. That is all.

  2. Ah, yes... heehee. ;)

    Hurray for the blouse finish!!! I've been praying for spring for a month already, and it had nothing to do with your blouse. *sigh*

  3. I love your response to the anonymous commenter. It's a bit of a "glass house" situation isn't it?! I don't come to your site to parse your language usage but to drool over your creative output and silently stew over how I'm not nearly as productive or talented!!

    All the best for a great week!!

  4. Thank you! Ha ha! I loved this. Grammar police.

  5. Ah, I wish American teachers would acknowledge the difference in British and U.S. English. I got marked down as a child for spelling the word "color" c-o-l-o-u-r. I had been reading British literature. I am not sure many Americans know that it exists. Glad you pointed it out. Kudos to you for doing so. I am an American living in Serbia. Kids here start to learn English in first grade. In higher grades they make the study specific to American or British. There are lots of differences! I prefer the Norther English accent m'self! ;) I love your blog. :) I write Chronicles of Serbia at Wordpress. if you want to drop by.

    1. When I was writing psych articles in grad school here in the US, I got marked down for all my Britishisms, too. Not just spelling - comma placement, the use of "and" and other things like that. Some of it were US conventions and some were specific APA (American Psychologists' Association) conventions. It was in the context of academia within the US context, so I did as the Romans did, so to speak. And reverted to "normal laungage" out of that context. But the internet and blogworld are different contexts altogether.

      Thanks for the invitation to visit your blog! I'll do that this week when the kids are (finally) back at school.

  6. I did learn both ways ;), I totally agree it is based on which side of the pond we were taught English....
    Cannot wait to see spring and the new blouse, please do not let rude people ruin your day!

  7. This gave me a good laugh. Coincidentally, I saw the word "learnt" in a random article on spelling I was reading today:

  8. LOL…that is great! Glad you pointed that out, as the grammar police can be a bit out of control (and at times…wildly inaccurate!).

    P.S. In response to the "colour" comment above. Last week my 8 year-old daughter was reading something and remarked that it was misspelled. I told her it wasn't misspelled in the King's English, and she, as a MN-educated child, was not taught that version. Kind of like gray and grey, and not using "z"s where we do in words (realized/realised), right? (Oh spell check is going crazy now)

    P.S.S. The weather is quite atrocious, isn't it? If school hadn't already been off for end of semester, I am sure they would have cancelled it here, too. Can't wait to see your top when the weather warms up a bit. :)

  9. O the world of spelling brrrrr. I'm dutch, had top marks in (British) English reading, speaking it and understanding it but don't ask me to write it ;);)
    These days I work with English, American and Indians(from India ;)) so all variations available.
    But as long as you keep share your wonderful ideas, for all i care if you would write learnet ;)

    1. :D sharing of course :D
      just keep blogging :D:D

  10. Thank you for some lighthearted entertainment, clearly "Anonymous" is not a learned soul.

  11. You've hit the big time if the grammar police are on your tail.
    The quotes around "not" is a way to 'bold' the word or at least call attention to it in a modern Facebook way.
    If anonymous had stuck around a bit, they would realize you are "not" a native Minnesotan!

    I admire your humour/humor.

  12. Congratulations on finishing your blouse. I'm looking forward to seeing it.

    On the subject of spelling and grammar: many of our English 'errors' simply come down to whether we are taught British English, US English, Australian English, or perhaps even Singlish. If people feel the need to be the grammar police, it would be far more polite to simply own their opinions, rather than posting anonymously.

  13. Actually I find your blog to be one of the best written ones I've come across - never any typos or grammatical errors!

    As for British vs. American English, here in Canada it is often a combination of the two!


  14. I could say a thing or two about Anon's comma usage, too! This gave me a good chuckle :) And a little hint for him or her - using "please" and "thank you" does not automatically mean you are being polite, sir or madame!

  15. Should the "throwing stones in glasshouses" person open the dictionary, they would discover the past tense of learn is learnt, but because of the adj learned- i.e well versed, educated person, people confused it and eventually learned was adopted as an alternative past tense outside the UK. English lesson over.

    P.S. I come here for your amazing sewing work, Thank you for sharing it.
    P.S 2- How is my spelling? lol!

  16. Well, I learnt something today !
    I would of also used the "learnt" version, probably because I was raised in Canada and we tend to write a few words different then the Americans. ( for eg. color = colour) I could go one but I am not the grammar police.
    I guess it all depends on which side of the "pond" you come from...what is important that we understand each other...actually in this day & age of cell phones ( we call them Handys here) it is all a mute point...the kids don't know how to write without abbreviating everything anyways.
    Liz a Canadian in Germany
    P.S. what really gets me crazy is when people mix up lend & borrow !!

  17. Ah..... your reply just gave me a big big smile! Love your sense of humour! Greetings from Germany

  18. There always has to be one in the crowd who thinks their way is correct. Just keep on doing what you do as some of us appreciate your blog no matter how its spelled as it gets the point across.
    Thank you for being so kind to put your blog out in cyberland so we all can enjoy it !

  19. I have all my life made "flat felt seams". Everybody I know says they are "flat felled seams" and that I was pronouncing it wrong. In some parts of the US, in an archaic tongue, "felt" and
    "'felled" mean the same thing! The people who taught me to sew were primarily from the hills so I probably always heard it as "felt". I still say flat felt and I still get corrected. :) and I still don't care, 'cuz my seams look so nicely finished!

  20. :) personally I think learnt sounds ever so much more cheerful than learned...

    I hope your weather warms up soon!

  21. This is for gentle lesson #2---I'm an editor at work.

    Rule 1

    Periods and commas always go inside quotation marks, even inside single quotes.

    The sign changed from "Walk," to "Don't Walk," to "Walk" again within 30 seconds.

    She said, "Hurry up."

    She said, "He said, 'Hurry up.'"

    1. Thanks for pointing this out, Tee. Apparently, this might be another US/UK variation, unless I'm very much mistaken. I found this link helpful:

    2. In the UK they go outside. Lots of spelling, grammar, and punctuation rules are different in the UK. I have worked as a copy editor in the US and there. "Always" is a dangerous word.

    3. Well there you go. I've, er, learnt something. As an Australian editor, I thought putting punctuation inside the quotation marks was just plain wrong. No I realise it's just yet another regional variation.

    4. And it's another rule of the internet that you see the spelling mistake just as you hit send. :-D

  22. Hey there,
    Thanks so much for the funny lesson. I am a grammar nazi! Not because I know it all but because I have my own issues ;-} I would never correct someone to their face or on the internet! Because I "learnt" as a child what manners are. Seriously, I appreciate the enlightenment as I have often wondered how people could use the word learnt! Keep on amazing me with your creativity, and your humour ;-]

  23. teee hee! This made me laugh. I'm an editor, but I don't presume to correct other people unless they ask me to.

  24. And, by the way, the new lens I got for Christmas TOTALLY took care of the dark inside shots I was getting. I used to dread blogging in winter because my photos turned out so badly. The lens was recommended by Deb at Smitten Kitchen -

    Maybe you're not a Canon user, though. . .

    1. Margo, I hear you, and thank you. I'm a teacher (retired) and I don't try to teach strangers, either (except for all the captive readers of this blog, poor things).
      Changing subject altogether, no, I'm not a Canon user - we have Nikons at home. But we have a similar lens - a 35 mm thingy that also has as low as 1.8 aperture values (can you tell I have no idea of the nomenclature of camera stuff?) And it helps with indoor lighting. Sometimes I actually remember to change to that lens to shoot with, but most of the time I forget until after I've seen the images themselves. Duh.

    2. well, it's so dark here in the winter that I just leave the lens on (we have 2 other ones - one of which is a telephoto that I have no desire to use because long shots aren't the trend in blogging now and I am ALL trendy - snort).


  25. The audacity of her! How dare she! Don't understand why must people get angry or have an inclination to appear smarter than others. Take it easy, mate!

    P.S. You are and always will be my favourite physics ( and life) teacher. Keep the sweaters on!

  26. Ah, your critic has fallen afoul of McKean's Law:
    "Any correction of the speech or writing of others will contain at least one grammatical, spelling, or typographical error."

    (Do you know Erin McKean? A sewer, she's -also- the writer of the "A Dress a Day" blog: )
    And her brook "The Secret Lives of Dresses" was really good!


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