Say What?

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Reading a Jack Reacher novel here in France on our holiday, my [English] wife told me she noticed this from author Lee Child, who’s English of course. We had a laugh. Can you spot it?:

From Lee Child's "Never Go Back," a "Jack Reacher" novel. [Photo by me, 2016.]
From Lee Child’s “Never Go Back,” a “Jack Reacher” novel. [Photo by me, 2016.]

As Bernard Shaw is famously quoted, “England and America are two countries separated by the same language.”

Indeed. “Spring onions” is stated there by an American character, “Susan Turner.” My wife related this to me by pointing out that she’d thought an American ordering like that would more likely say “scallions.” She said she had seen that word while food shopping over in upstate New York.

I did a bit of “online research.” There is some confusion on this obviously globally vital language issue; but “spring onions” as a term is also used in the U.S. We’ve also noticed here that the French call them – in French, of course – rather more accurately, the “onion with the big white bottom.”

Spring onions, French "production." [Photo by me, 2016.]
Spring onions, French “production.” [Photo by me, 2016.]
Movies and television really started this. Now the Internet is merely accelerating our cross-familiarity. We are all increasingly aware of each other’s local expressions and language quirks.

Mr. Child got away with that there, but I’d say it’s close; my English wife’s initial reaction was that she had thought he’d blown it. As a writer you never want to make a sloppy error in dialogue – particularly in its general use by a nationality other than your own. And that can be all too easy accidentally to do.

After all, nowadays, courtesy of the Internet and Amazon, you are almost assured that someone of that nationality will stumble upon you eventually and read you’ve written that they say….

If so, they’d better say it. πŸ˜‰

Have a good weekend. We’re back home to England on Saturday. See you again from there next time. πŸ™‚

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