a wandering woman writes

Friday, August 26, 2005

This and That

Late for work, so 2 quick thisses and a that:

Yesterday a quick stop to check my Yahoo mail reminded me of yet another reason I love living - this one is particularly about working - in Europe. Vacation!!! And permission to take it! OK, the capitalist in me doesn't know how small businesses do it, I can't imagine the overhead although salaries are lower, I suppose....but it does make you ask that thoroughly unAmerican question - Why are we working again?

A bit of the article:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans returning to work from summer vacation ought to feel refreshed, but probably not as refreshed as colleagues in Europe, where minimum paid leave beats that for U.S. workers with even 25 years of service.

A report from the Economic Policy Institute on Wednesday noted that Americans with a quarter century of employment receive just 19.2 days of annual paid leave on average versus 20 days or more in most European countries.

"Vacation is an important part of work -- a time to get away from the demands of a job, to enjoy family, and to rejuvenate. President Bush's extended vacation at his ranch in Texas reflects this need," said EPI.

Bush has been enjoying a five week break on his ranch in Crawford -- a stay away from the office that is positively French in length, where legal minimum annual leave is 25 days.

There is no legal minimum paid leave in the United States, although many firms grant some vacation time. EPI, citing data from the U.S. National Compensation Survey, found the average number of paid vacation days to be 8.9 after one year or work, 11 after three years and 16.2 after 10 years.

Could you spell that please?

Has anyone found that learning a second language completely destroys their ability to spell in the first? Or is that only when the new language is as luxuriously phonetic as Spanish? I can't believe what has become of my 5th grade Spelling Bee champ self. People regularly send me things to proofread. Note to all of you: you may want to reconsider that.

Tenedor Tension

And I have been wondering this for 4 years so now I will ask all of you:

So since the States was a British colony, I'll assume we use to eat like Europeans, fork in the left hand, knife in the right, scooping away with both utensils simultaneously.

So who decided it was time to change and when?

Because I'm basically retrained, and actually I think the fork in the left technique works better, most of the time. (Which again makes me ask why we felt compelled to change it.)

Then somebody brings me a chopped up salad, or a bowl of rice....and I give in to comfort. Fork in the right.

When you're hungry you'll do what it takes - even shout "North American!" through your table manners, I guess.



  • Greek has destroyed my English spelling, and I used to be a whiz at spelling bees too (except that time I lost to spelling Connecticut).

    Half the time I can't remember how to spell something common. It is quite frustrating. Although I wonder if the combination of learning Greek and getting older is the culprit, more than just the language.

    By Blogger melusina, at 5:19 PM  

  • Yeh, I thought of the age thing, but I'm choosing to ignore it.

    Connecticut always was a tough one. Can you imagine learning to spell in English if it wasn't your native language?

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 8:26 PM  

  • I'm French living in Spain, and it's not a difficulty for me to spell in french or in english (even if it's harder).
    Of course, you need a little bit of concentration at the beginning, like when you change the language.

    By Anonymous Peyu, at 10:43 PM  

  • It sneaks up on you. You still think you know how to spell, but when you write soemthing down you start having doubts. That's because, unlike other European languages, English is not pronounced as it is read so we use our visual memory for a word, not our aural one. Living abroad and seeing mostly cognate words spelled differently and regularly upesets our inner sense of "direction".

    By Blogger Bill, at 1:32 AM  

  • Learning Spanish did not destroy my English spelling, but when I decided to learn Italian, it wreaked havoc with my Spanish spelling!

    By Blogger Angie, at 8:18 PM  

  • It's weird, because I catch my own mistakes when I go back to check things or concentrate,as you say, Peyu - and I catch everybody else's :) - but I write a lot of English copy at work and when the words are just flowing intuitively - or when I'm starting out a blog entry - I now write phonetically! Which in English usually means WRONG!!

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 9:55 PM  

  • I only happen to know this because I just read an article about it a couple weeks ago. We (Americans) eat the way Europeans used to. From George Washington's transcription of Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation:
    "Put not your meat to your Mouth with your Knife in your hand neither Spit forth the Stones of any fruit Pye upon a Dish nor Cast anything under the table". Our style of putting down our knife after cutting and switching the fork to the other hand (in my case to the left as am left-handed) was considered proper at that time and was documented in French etiquette books as well. It was later, when the French aristocracy found the style too time consuming, that the current two-fisted Euro style developed.
    Love your blog. :-)

    By Blogger mylifeinspain, at 10:47 AM  

  • Thanks, mylifeinspain!! I can´t believe you knew that; I have absolutely no idea why that tiny little detail was fascinating me, but it was!! And huh! WE didn't change, never thought of that.

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 7:53 AM  

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