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