Two Readers

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Feng Reading, 2011

Feng Reading, 2011

The other night, I received two emails a few minutes apart.

The first one was from someone asking if I had changed my feed settings recently. “I’ve been receiving your articles by email since 2011”, he wrote. “But lately, it stopped working.”

The short two-sentence email made me blush. Holy shit, someone, somewhere in the world, has been reading this blog since 2011? And we are not even related? And he did not just stumbled upon it in the huge World Wide Web, but he subscribed by email? And apparently he is missing the articles enough to try to fix the issue?

This is crazy to me. I’m… a nobody, really.

I clicked on the little star beside the object line to flag it and promise myself to check the feed setting. I owed him that much (never mind I understand very little about Feedburner…).

Then, I opened the second email. The object read “American English”. If I had paused for a second to wonder about the content, I would have guessed the sender had questions about learning English in Canada.

I would have been completely wrong.

Hi,

I am curious as to why a site that to some extent promotes the Canadian experience should be written in American English rather than in Canadian English.  Is the site intended for Americans or is this the result of a Quebec education that doesn’t like to admit that anglophones in Canada have a distinct identity?

Je ne pose pas la question pour être méchant. Je veux tout simplement savoir pourquoi vous avez choisi d’écrire en américain.

The last two sentences written in perfect French say: “I’m not being mean. I just want to know why you chose to write in American English.”

Here was my reply:

Ugh? Hein?

D’abord, je ne sors pas du système éducatif québécois, I was born and raised in France. I learned English when I first came to Canada ten years ago. Initially, American spelling vs. Canadian spelling didn’t matter much to me, I was busy, you know, learning proper grammar and shoveling the driveway to my igloo. Canadian spelling usually follows British spelling, which I learned at school, however we as Canadian are also influenced by US media and American spelling as you probably know.

That said, I adopted Canadian spelling several years ago, so I’m not sure which article you are referring to—I’ve been blogging for seven years, the archives are quite extensive at this point with over a thousand articles published.

Finally, I’m working as a translator, editor and proofreader and I enforce Canadian spelling every day.

Have a good evening!

The first reader followed up the next day, and explained that initially, he landed on the blog because he was planning to immigrate to Canada. But then, he kept on reading.

Your writing skills are really amazing, I read many travel books and blogs, but I definitely rate yours as one of the best, because most of the travel blogs having cooked up stories, and biased.

You are straight and the places you are visiting is not attracted by the many tourists (just fun lovers), you are going in depth with locals, and their habits, food culture etc.. So I never miss your stories.

I was—and I am still—ridiculously flattered, so flattered that I actually saved the email (and replied to it, goes without saying).

The second reader, the language police guy, never replied. I wasn’t expecting him to. Most interactions I have with readers are very brief. People ask a question, sometime make a snarky remark and I never hear from them again. This is life 2.0 after all. The web is huge, we connect briefly and move on. Why hate read? It’s a waste of time.

I wasn’t offended by his email. I mean, the tone was slightly belligerent but I don’t think he was trolling.

Many bloggers complain about trolls, but I rarely have to deal with them. Once in a while, someone rants about immigration-related topic: it can be a disgruntled immigrant (“I hate this fucking country, don’t immigrate to Canada”) or less frequently someone questioning immigration policies (“we let everyone in those days!”). I think one of the most heated arguments I had was when I was granted Canadian citizenship, and someone was offended by the fact I was also keeping my French citizenship (“you have to choose, otherwise you’re not a real Canadian!”). I deal with clueless people, yes. The occasionally rude comment? Once in a blue moon. Spam? Constantly, but I don’t even notice anymore since it’s blocked.

Blogging is both a selfish and a selfless activity. Selfish because I use the first person, and while I try my best to avoid too much navel gazing, it’s still an unbalanced account of the world viewed from my own perspective. But writing and publishing articles is also a selfless activity because I don’t expect anything in return. I write because I enjoy it. I give advice because… well, when you feel you can help in some way, you just do it.

When I first started blogging I had never thought it would open the door to so many fascinating interactions, new friendships, new opportunities and new perspectives.

It did.

And I’m deeply grateful that every day, people stop by and read and react to the words I type.

Share.

About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

30 Comments

  1. It’s funny you’re mentionning that because for the first time this morning, I received an adorable e-mail saying “thank you for sharing”. No questions, no hidden agenda, just a big “thank you for the amtrak tips”. That made my day! (or my week, or even my year!)
    I’d consider myself an accomplish blogger when I’ll receive both nice comments as yours and trolls one. 😀
    And you should know that you’re not a true french person anymore. You betrayed our country!!! Shame on you!!! (people are crazy)

    • I totally betrayed my country. My roots. But hey, I had to go undercover after the… oh, can’t talk about it. Right. 😆

      People who take the time to say “hi” or “thank you” are awesome. I try to do that to, it just makes the world a better place.

  2. !!! Be carefull, my answer will be written in a bad french-english langage !!!
    I’m glad to read you blog too and happy to see that you are still enjoying it, even after 7 years 😉

    • The seven-year part is crazy to me… I had never thought I’d still be blogging but hey, it’s addictive! I’m glad I found you as well, your stories are very interesting.

  3. Hi ! I never leave comments but this is the perfect occasion to let you know that your blog has been one if my favorite/favourite 😛 reads for the last… 2 years ? (I don’t remember…), both because of what you say and how you say it. So thank you !

  4. I sense that Feedburner might be completely abandoned by Google soon … I had some problems with it recently and I tried really hard to resolve it but could not. Google has stopped updating it so it might become obsolete, that is why I have a box on my blog asking people to use my wordpress feed directly.

  5. I feel like I owe it to you to come out of dark and leave a comment, which is something I don’t do often enough. I’ve been following many blogs by many different bloggers for quite some years now, and you should know you are my absolute favorite one by far. Whenever I see a new blog post from you I make myself a fresh cup of coffee, sit comfortably and then take my sweet time reading your witty writings while sipping my coffee. I found your blog by accident while searching for info on immigration to Canada, needless to say I fell in love with your hysterical sense of humor and style of writing and quickly became a loyal reader. Thanks for making me laugh regularly. . I’ve spilled my coffee more times than I can count bursted out laughing at your funny stories!
    Huge, really HUGE thanks for selflessly sharing so many information on immigration and Canada in general. Sometimes I wonder if you realize how many people you have helped over the years? Well, just in case you don’t realize it, please know that there’s people out there who truly appreciate the time and energy you have invested in sharing your experience and information and are forever grateful.
    I rarely comment, but I read every single blog post you publish, sometimes more than once. It’s helped me immensely with my immigration process. So thank you J.!

    • Hello reader from the dark (and future Canadian??),

      Let me tell you how sorry I am for the coffee spill. I… nope, I have no solution for that 😆

      More seriously, I cannot tell you enough how flattered I am. Really. Your kind words mean a lot to me, and… oh Gosh, so much pressure now! Must.Keep.On. Writing. Must.

      • I am a future Canadian indeed, applying through Family Sponsorship, hopefully in a few months the process should be finalized yay! Thank you for everything, all the good advice and tips you shared on your blog have helped me immensely with my immigration process, I spent countless hours reading through your posts. Sweet lady, thank you for everything that you do, it is much appreciated.
        And as for the coffee no worries.. you keep writing and I’ll keep spilling:) All the best to you and your family, love from Europe

        • I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you! I hope the process won’t be too long. This is the tough part, the wait. The positive side is that once you get your PR status, you forget about the ordeal pretty quick and you can live as a true Canadian (okay, minus voting) and apply for your citizenship three years later. You won’t have to deal with CIC for the rest of your life, that’s what I’m saying!

          Where will you be living in Canada? Any specific plans?

          • Alberta, not sure about the city yet. Frankly at this point I don’t care much about citizenship, I just want to be reunited with my partner and start our life. Waiting period is a living torture, a twisted mind game as all applicants know very well. Oh well, hopefully our papers go through soon and I get to say hi to you from Canada!

          • I hear you! I remember the frustration as well. Really, I didn’t care that much about Canada, I just wanted to… never have to go through teary goodbyes at the airport. I think in your case the “challenge” is the processing time, if you have an existing relationship there is little doubt you will get the PR status. Well, again, fingers crossed!

            … and if you need to vent or rant, I’m here 🙂

  6. I love your blog! I think I spent several days going through all your posts. I like the fact that you update regularily, there are less and less bloggers doing so, people tend to use Facebook more often now. And thanks for dropping comments in my blog, I know at least there is one person reading it.

    • I’m reading, for sure! I like the link between us, your multicultural family and the fact you live in my former hometown. And you write well too!

  7. Hi! I am one more of your mystery readers just to say I love your blog and you always crack me up. Also, thanks for sharing your experiences on immigrating to Canada so generously. I started reading your blog looking up information about visa processing, etc. when I was just applying for my PR a couple of years ago. I have been reading you since then because your rants about winter are hilarious, your travel posts are very fun and interesting, and really, it is just very enjoyable to read what you have to say.

    • Hi Blanca,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to connect and read! I’m super flattered. Did you complete the immigration process now? Are you living in Canada?

  8. Juliette, you blog is awesome! Et vous etes tres gentille (1 sentence in French, this was the theme in today’s post)

    Well I did stumble upon your blog while searching something on immigration and now, I visit every day (although you probably publish here every third day). This blog of yours is not just about immigration, I have been learning a lot about life in Canada, your albums on Flickr are brilliant 🙂 and of course let’s not forget the humor needs well met, I still remember trying extremely hard to stifle my laughter when I started to read “Hit me baby”

    I am grateful for your blog. I am a follower 🙂

    Merci beaucoup!

  9. C’est vrai que parfois on ne se rend pas compte du nombre de personne qui nous lit au final : seulement une petite minorité écrit des commentaires 😉 Moi aussi parfois quand je parle avec des gens de ma famille ou des amies au Québec et qui m’appellent La Madame ou qui font référence à ce que j’ai écrit un moment donné, c’est là que je me dis :”Hein?! Tu me lis toé?!” 😉

    Y’a donc une différence entre le Canadien et l’Américain?! Je savais même pas, je dis toujours aux gens que j’ai un accent américain (ici la plupart ont des accents” Français qui essaient de parler Anglais” ou bien Anglais donc y sont surpris quand je sors mon accent américain 😀 ) Mais alors, peut-être que je parle en Canadien pis que je le sais même pas! 😀 En bref, tu peux me dire vite vite c’est quoi la différence entre les 2 Zhu?

    • C’est pas tant parler que l’écrire 🙂

      Par example, au Canada, on écrit “humour”, “colour”, “cheque” alors qu’aux USA on écrira “color”, “humor” et “check”. Il y a toute une série de mot comme ça. J’imagine que tu as appris l’orthographe “canadienne” à l’école, qui suit davantage les racines anglaises qu’américaines.

      • Non, moi j’écrirais sans le u et check 😉 Je suppose que les profs ne faisaient pas attention à ça ?! Je sais pas pourquoi je n’ai pas appris l’anglais canadien… Bah tant pis, personnellement je parle anglais pour me débrouiller quand je vais quelque part donc en autant que j’arrive à me faire comprendre c’est le principal 🙂

        Merci Zhu pour m’avoir aidé à comprendre la différence entre les 2 🙂 Bisous 🙂

  10. Ugh, the comment about why you would be keeping your French citizenship. I have to deal with people like that tous les temps 🙁 or feels like anyway. I love getting e mails, I actually met up with a girl yesterday who e mails me and it was so much fun!

    • I don’t see why you should have to choose, especially considering relationships between most countries and Canada are pretty good. I mean, you can be both…

      • hey Juliette,
        dont pay that much attention to people who bounce on this blog and ask all sort of non-sense. I know that in quebec exist a very strong national feeling… Well they have tried to break apart from the federal canada several time and failed. maybe they understood that the only one to join after leaving Canadian federation, will be greenland 🙂 so write any language you want: just remember that in english you will have many more readers. once in a while french is fine to brush up my french 🙂

        As for giving up your french citizenship, thats ridiculous! as far as it is legal and the countries are not in a war (although even then I see no reason of giving it up) you want to land anywhere in EU and start your life immediately, while a canadian simply can not!
        My son has 4 citizenships, all intact and these are the most powerful and resourceful countries in the world so that spells opportunities X4. great democracies where live and let live is the rule of law (sorry china doesnt make the list by failing in quite a few levels).

        So that you know I am the CAN-AM that asked you for advice on traveling with a kid through yucatan peninsula.

        • Hi there!

          Oh God… yes, I remember you, I hope I did answer your question. I think I received it when we are traveling and I’m very bad at answering questions when I’m on the road.

          I love your perspective and I completely agree: holding several citizenships is a chance, and it means “opportunities” not “YOU TRAITOR!”

          I decided to write in English a long long time ago, at first because I didn’t speak much English and I wanted to practise, and also because it was a way for me to “fit in”–after all, I live in English Canada. This doesn’t mean I forgot about my roots… which is why I work as a translator!

  11. I love your blog too. I think I have been reading for 4 years or so after finding it reading blogs about expats in France. I don’t comment often or read it religiously, but occasionally I will remember and sit down to read all your blog posts since the last time I visited. After spending 4 years in France I find it interesting to get a French expats take on life abroad. And your travel adventures make me so jealous!!

    As for American vs. Canadian/British English. I can’t say I have ever noticed which English spelling/grammar system you adhere to. I am currently teaching English in an American Language School and all the books the students use are in British English??! By default I always spell using British English but use some American words because NZ English is mixed (but then sometimes I use British words because I lived in the UK – my students must get confused!!). I explain to the students that there are two different ways of spelling the word, and neither is incorrect but it is better to use one or the other.

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