21 April 2014

A Cockeyed Yankee in King Arsène's Court

Every once in a while, such as now when we have to wait until Monday for our next match, I find myself staring at the vast stretch of time between matches and wonder just how I'll fill the time. How many different ways can we dissect the win over Hull and its ramifications on the Prem, the FA Cup, and the Champions League? How much is there to say ahead of the Monday visit from Newcastle, and when is it time to start saying it? Hint: Too soon. Maybe Thursday. It's with queries like that in mind that I can take a moment to examine myself. Take stock, as it were, and see just how far I've come and how far I've yet to go.

This all started innocently enough with a Reader's Poll that I ran a few times to gather some insights into who's visiting and how they feel about what they're seeing, but then it snowballed when I used a few terms I shouldn't have been using. I wish they were the salty, colorful variety, but they were either (a) Americanisms or (b) inaccuracies. I've leave it to you to ponder just how those two circles would overlap in a Venn diagram. The mistakes made me wonder about me, as an American, writing about Arsenal, a British club. I've made some adaptations succesfully; others, not so well. Football has long-since replaced soccer. 'Pitch' has replaced 'field.' I confidently and fluently use club or squad as necessary instead of the more-basic team. I even pronounce derby correctly. However, I worry just how far I should be changing before I start to sound too foppish, like I'm trying too hard to sound British rather than American.

Of course, my errors came in referring to an assistant-referee as a "side judge" and in talking about the "Premiership" instead of the "Premier League" or "Prem," so it's not like I can hide behind my American-ness there. As we all know, America's culture is like a delicate flower, easily trampled or overwhelmed by the more aggressive, expansionist cultures of the world. We've been pushed around, bullied, trod on, exploited, etc. so often that I feel a patriotic duty to stand up for our poor, vulnerable, plucky little country, so lost and powerless on the international stage. If we just had a little more influence, a little more clout, I might feel less insecure about our role in the world. Sigh. I'm sure you feel my pain—or at least detect my sarcasm.

More seriously, it's an ironic balancing act for me. On the one, I want to be aware of my audience and write to its members in a way that makes sense. On the other, I want to offer my insights and express my own perspective. If I try too hard for one, I might lost sight of the other. I do love languaged and take care to wield it well, but there are going to be times when my irrevocable American-ness shine through. At my best, this will simply manifest in the niggling little details—the addition or omission of a comma, the set-up of a clause with that instead of which, etc. At my worst, I may use an inexcusably American term or botch some British slang that I thought I had learned correctly. It's all a bit confusing, I must say.

Having admitted that much, I was pleased at how positive the afore-mentioned poll results were. Keeping in mind the selection-bias (those who participated were those most inclined to have positive things to say, for example), the feedback was largely positive while giving me just enough food for thought, and I thank you for chiming in. For those interested, here's a link to the results as they currently stand, and here's a link to the poll itself if you're the meddlesome type who likes to skew results after the fact.

All in all, I'm thrilled to have made it this far. I've made a fair amount of progress since starting in February 2013, and it's given me a vital outlet for the stresses and concerns of my day-job to know that I have something to say and a few of you out there get something out of it at your end. I apologize for the navel-gazing here, especially if you were expecting something a little, well, relevant, but as I said, the occasion came up, and there's a long stretch of time between now and our next match!