About helenrov

I'm Helen. I live in Melbourne and am studying Professional Communication at RMIT.

On Allowances for Dialect

 

Originally written for WRIT2250: Writing– Grammar, Syntax, and Style in 2014 as one of three discussions of grammatical concepts.

 

While talking with my father last week, I heard him use a phrase that I hadn’t heard used in a very long time:

‘Give it me [tomorrow then].’

To put this into cultural context, my Dad grew up in Bolton, and I had the first years of my life in Manchester and Lancashire, all areas of England encompassed in what is referred to as ‘The North’. In this part of the UK, the phrase ‘give it me’ is perfectly acceptable and frequently used. It is also, according to most people not from the area, incorrect.

To me, it is clear that this phrase is a shortening of ‘give it to me’, and coupled with a broad northern accent (although both my father and I speak with received pronunciation) sounds not at all out of place. In Australia people feel differently, as I discovered upon inadvertently repeating the phrase in a similar context a week later.

‘What? “Give it you?” What does that even mean?’ I was asked.

I recognise that this lack of the preposition to could make it unclear whether the it was to be given to me or if I were to be given to it, but I reject the notion that meaning is lost from this phrase when used in context. I am coming to the conclusion that the person who called me out did understand my meaning (to give me back the book they had borrowed the next day), and was just nitpicking at my unconventional pronunciation.

Just as there are different dialects of German, French and other languages, we must accept that regional dialects of English also exist. These versions of the same language should not be seen as ‘English with mistakes’ or as somehow less correct than standard British/Australian/American English, but accepted as correct in their own right.

I am not wrong for speaking Lanky (as the dialect is referred to in the UK). I am just speaking in another dialect of the same language.

***

I’ve finally got there! More to come over the coming weeks, my masters is ramping up now so hopefully I’ll have some new and improved content up in between old pieces of writing.

Until next time,

Okay, but for real this time

2016 was a long year, and 2015 not that much shorter. Since my last post on this blog I’ve graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from UQ, moved home and gone on exchange to the University of Leeds. I had a semester off before graduating at the end of last year, and am now ready to begin postgraduate study over the next few months.

So, what does that mean for this long-neglected blog?

Well, there still won’t be too many posts up here for the next month or so, as I’m heading north with my family tomorrow for a short holiday and likely won’t have internet, but once I’m back and settled into a routine again you (if there are any of you still out there) can expect weekly posts at the very least.

I’m planning to publish some of my work here that I did for my undergrad assessment, some of it edited from its final form and some not. I’m going to be talking more in-depth about my time abroad and my mental health journey, as well as my journey to self-improvement and organisation. I’m in the process of dipping my toe into joining the studyblr/studygram communities on tumblr and instagram,  in the hopes that this will motivate me to keep my grades up.

Aside from all of that, I’m hoping to use this space for some frank discussion of how I see the world, some anecdotes from my daily life, and as a documentation of the year that I hopefully get my shit together.

Wish me luck,

Until next time,

Helen

Starting Over

Once again I have left posting entirely too long. I had so many ideas for this blog when I last tried to come back to writing nine months ago, and haven’t followed through with any of them.

In the time since I last posted I: applied to an exchange program and was rejected; transferred universities; started therapy, stopped, then started again; travelled back and forth from Melbourne to Brisbane three times; got back together with my boyfriend; moved home and cut all my hair off. Not quite in that order.

Coming home is probably the best decision I’ve made in a while, along with starting to write again (nothing I’d show the outside world just yet but I’m getting there). I’d like to say I’m settling back in pretty well. Classes start next week at UQ and I’m actually excited about learning for the first time in a long time.

I’m planning a twice-a-week upload schedule for this blog, but forgive me if I don’t manage it when assessment starts up.

Until next time,

Helen

Save the Great Barrier Reef

The following is an assignment written in August for the General News Reporting course I took this semester. The prompt was to write a local hard news article to be published in a local paper. I wasn’t completely happy with the end result, but I think I did okay given no one really wanted to talk to me:

Environmental Impact of Proposed Port Expansion on the Reef Provokes Protests

Proposed mega-ports and expansion along the coast of the Great Barrier Reef were protested in Brisbane on August 25th. More than 3000 protesters marched through Brisbane streets to call for stronger protection of the reef from politicians.

The plans proposed by the Queensland Government and the Adani (Adani) Group would involve extensive dredging around Abbot point and result in increased shipping traffic along the coast. The ecological repercussions of such expansion going forth improperly managed could be catastrophic, according to Greg Skilleter (Greg Skilleter) of the Marine and Estuarine Ecology Unit at the University of Queensland.

“One of the biggest visible issues with dredging” says Dr Skilleter, “… is it makes the water murky.” This, he explains, stops light from passing through the water, which affects the growth of certain kinds of plankton and coral, which causes a knock on effect right up the food chain.

In the weeks leading up to the election last weekend, both major political parties spoke of the need to protect the reef. “It’s a positive step forward,” said Felicity Wishart (Felicity Wishart), campaign director at the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

Ms Wishart was positive about the reaction to the protest last month, and is confident that this issue is one that people care about. “The majority of Queenslanders … supported a ban on dumping dredge waste in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef,” she said of a recent poll of nine electorates along the coast and in the southeast of Queensland.

And with good reason, “Those sediments don’t just land back where they came from… and they smother anything they land on,” said Greg Skilleter on the topic of dredge waste. The potential for pollutants in these sediments is high, further endangering the reef ecosystem.

“Australians love the Great Barrier Reef” says Felicity Wishart, “Once people are made aware of the planned future range of developments along the Reef, their concern for this natural wonder only grows.”

Ms Wishart and the rest of Fight for the Reef and the Australian Marine Conservation Society plan to continue to raise awareness about the industrialisation and its impact as the new parliament makes vital decisions about the future of the reef.

The Medical Profession and Social Literacy

Now, this post is late and it doesn’t fit exactly within my Health category as I’d originally intended it, but that’s still where I think it belongs, if you’ll bear with me for a little while.

I feel like maybe this post may a little bit of an over-share for some people, but so many women go through this that I feel the need to get this out for other people to hear about. I shan’t go into any explicit details or anything, but be cautious nonetheless, I suppose.

I’ve always had incredibly painful menstrual cramps. From the first period I had at age eleven or twelve, I knew I was in for a lifetime of pain. When I was fifteen, I was put on the pill. When that did little to help the pain I was told to use the pill in a way such that my cycle was ten weeks rather than four (that is, I only take the “blank” pills on one tray of three). When the pain was still too much each time I went through it, I was given anti-inflammatory pain pills which were so strong that I can only take one per day when I do take them, and started to use heat packs when the weather allowed for it.

The last three or so times I’ve taken them, these pain meds weren’t working.

At the age of fifteen I was checked for endometriosis, but due to my young age and the fact that I wasn’t sexually active, the radiologist I went to (with my mum) would only do an external examination, an ultrasound like the ones used to take a peek at foetuses/unborn babies. This isn’t a very effective way of checking, as you can’t really see too much from the outside. As there is no family history of endometriosis, and my mum claimed similarly painful cramps without having it, the idea was more or less abandoned and I was left to cope.

When I went to the doctor this time she decided I was ready for the internal exam, or pelvic ultrasound as it’s often referred to. As an eighteen year old who has only just gotten used to going to get check ups without her mum, I was (I think) understandably nervous about having some stranger stick a probe inside me, but I pressed forward, saw the necessity and made the appointment.

Melbourne is still relatively new to me as a city, and if it’s not in the city centre, chances are I haven’t been there and don’t know how to get there. The radiologist I went to couldn’t be gotten to by tram without three or four changes, and I didn’t like my chances of walking there in less than an hour. So I decided to take my bike.

Bad idea #1. I’d not been on my bike in over a year, and it was too much too soon. The migraine I hadn’t yet paid much thought to (my vision goes, but I don’t get a lot of pain) came into full force and upon getting off the bike my legs had forgotten how to walk. I was hot, sweaty and thirsty and I realised I was going to be late, and my bladder would probably not be sufficiently full for the initial ultrasound.

Having locked my bike to a post, I called the radiology to let them know I was running late. I suppose I must’ve sounded fairly distraught as I was stressed and still out of breath. I found a tram nearby that took me close enough and after a huge amount of stress I got there about fifteen to twenty minutes late. I walked in, red faced and sweaty, and the receptionist assured me that they’d managed to move some things around to fit me in still.

“Is this our girl who’s been crying and stressed out?” was the first thing the woman performing the exam said in my presence. No “hi” or “hello”. No “it’s alright”. Just accusing me of sobbing down the phone at the receptionist, something I categorically had not done.

I won’t go into specifics of the things she said to me during the examinations, because bit by bit they don’t sound so bad, and a lot of what was horrible about this experience was in tone of voice, inflection and emphasis. She did tell me off at least seven times for not having a full enough bladder, however, and made several incredibly condescending remarks about giving myself more time to get there next time.

There will be no next time. If I ever need to have a similar procedure done again, I will be taking it elsewhere. That she assumed she knew my circumstances was incredibly aggravating for me. “Leave yourself a bit more time next time”? Screw you, lady. I left an hour before my appointment to get here, and that it took me longer than I thought was beyond my control.

I spent who knows how long lying on that bench, naked from the waist down but covered in hospital gowns in possibly the most vulnerable position a woman could be in, while she sporadically told me off and otherwise made me feel like a piece of meat.

Very rarely do I allow strangers to make me cry, but this woman managed. It was no incident in particular, just the experience as a whole (the icing on the cake was when I was told to hand over about $210 for it). I made it outside and called my mum before I properly broke down, and my mother reassured my belief that she is the most amazing woman on the planet by knowing exactly what to say and being appropriately outraged at how I’d been treated.

I know from talking to a few other women around me and my mum that this is not an uncommon occurrence. Women, particularly young and solo women, are treated this way all the time by medical professionals. Mum postulates that this is because they can get away with it. There’s no doubt that the woman who examined me was displaying bullying behaviour, and I truly believe that had I had my mum or a sister (if I had one) with me, or been a decade or two older, I would’ve been treated differently.

I don’t know what it is that makes medical professionals occasionally forget that they’re dealing with real, actual people and not just slabs of meat. I don’t know why it is that some doctors feel the need to treat their patients like they’re somehow worthless. The fact is, it happens, and it’s not okay.

Hopefully this next week will be a little less insane and I’ll get more writing done. I’ll be heading to the pool on Wednesday for the first time (I’m much too saddlesore for any more bike rides for a few days) and after my birthday on Monday sees two pieces of assessment finished and handed in I think I’ll feel a lot freer.

Until next time,

Compliments

So last night (or the night before, now that it’s gone midnight) while eating frozen yoghurt in a food court in central Melbourne, I was approached by a man who was probably between his mid twenties and mid thirties (I’m not very good at judging age… Though neither was he, I suppose). I thought at first he was going to ask me for some spare change. That happens a lot here.

I’ve lived through a similar scenario to this one before. Somehow, however, last time I was able to take it how it was intended, and afterwards I felt bashful but overall pleased. This time, I felt beyond uncomfortable.

“Hi there,” he said to me. He seemed to be working up the nerve to get his next statement out, as well as trying to ascertain whether or not I was paying attention. “Hi. I just wanted to  say, you’re face is really familiar to me. I recognise a lot of myself in you.”

I wasn’t sure quite where he was going with this. Satisfied that I was not going to have to deny him what little change I had, I sat up a little straighter, and frowned at him, a fair amount of confusion evident on my face, I’m sure.

This guy went on to describe how I looked terrified (which wasn’t something I was feeling by any means), and that it would get better. Life would get better. That I’d get out of high school and the people who do well in high school tend not to do so well in the real world. And how pretty I was, and how my life was going to get so much better.

I had to stop him and explain that I graduated from high school in November 2011. He seemed shocked, “but you look so young!”

“I get that a lot…”

He told me I was pretty at least twice more, told me everything would get easier another three or so times, and then after I’d awkwardly thanked him he left me alone, and I shortly thereafter scarpered off to find a tram.

See, I thought when I sat down at that table that I’d been giving off enough “leave me alone” vibes. I was obviously consumed in reading something on my phone, I had earphones in, was sitting by myself having not even taken my backpack off and was hunched over my froyo due to the cold (it’s never too cold for froyo). I simply don’t understand what this guy was intending to achieve by approaching me.

What’s more is he approached me believing I was about three or four years younger than I really am. There’s no way I would’ve been able to handle that situation back when I was that age. I’d have had a panic attack right there in the food court. And what would he have done then? I do appreciate his intentions, but surely he knows, as a person who evidently had a similar high school career to me, that telling someone “it gets better” is not helpful. I don’t know what it was that made him choose me either. Maybe it was the large girl sitting by herself eating less-than-healthy food thing. I don’t know.

What I do know is that it’s taken me about thirteen years to become comfortable in the way that I look, and having someone else come to tell me that I would feel better soon made me feel more like there was something wrong with me than any of the actual insults or the bad photos ever did. Don’t get me wrong, I know my weight isn’t exactly healthy and I could stand to be a lot fitter, but since actively deciding to work on bettering myself (and for myself I might add) I’ve come to accept that my body is my body and it can look however I bloody well want it to.

Being “pretty” or “beautiful” was never a particularly big deal to me. It wasn’t something I worried about. “Fat” was a much more prevalent insult than “ugly”. I don’t want you to think I’m arrogant or narcissistic, I don’t like myself very much about half the time, but I quite like the way my face looks, and even when I think maybe I could look more feminine, no one has ever made me feel ugly.

I don’t want to say that people shouldn’t compliment strangers. I think it’s lovely to receive a genuine compliment from somebody completely random. The day as a cashier that became so much better after being told I have “the most captivating eyes” by this little old couple was one of the best I spent in that job, and after being told by a boy who would probably have been a little younger than me that I was “really gorgeous” after picking up coffee in my break last April I didn’t stop blushing from the praise for about three hours.

Compliments are lovely, but they should be given out with caution.

Some things to consider before approaching a stranger to tell them how nice they look:

  • Does the person look like they want to be approached? If they are giving off vibes that say “leave me alone” you interrupting them (making them take out earphones to listen to you or come out of a book etc.) will probably annoy them, and you could come off as more pervy than complimentary. Your aim in complimenting someone should be to make them feel better, not more uncomfortable.
  • Does the compliment you intend to give them require any explanation or expansion? Leave it out. Seriously. Give the compliment. Leave. It’s that simple, and way more effective if you don’t stick around to chat. Don’t expect a thank-you or a compliment in return. That’s not the point here. The person will likely feel a bit taken aback by you, and you shouldn’t prolong the interaction unless they obviously indicate that they want you to stick around.
  • Be careful about the nature of your compliment. Especially if you are a man complimenting a woman, words like “hot” and “sexy” will tend not to put you in their good books, and will more likely make them feel wary than good about themselves. There are of course women who are exceptions to this rule, but even so, avoid compliments that are sexual in nature. Complimenting someone isn’t about getting in their pants. It’s about making them feel good. This rule does of course apply to everyone of every gender, posing it to anyone of any gender, but the man to woman is the most common scenario and I have little to no experience with other gender combinations in this situation.

I’d really love to know what other people think about this. I’m obviously writing from my own experience and these are simply my opinions, but would love to hear alternative views and and insight on these kinds of situations.

Until next time,

Great British Adventure

Ah, Britain. I was SO excited to arrive back in my home country after so long in countries where i couldn’t speak the language. I was starting to get really homesick, despite all the fun I was having. We arrived in the UK on November 5th, and we stayed in a little pub called “The Crown” about an hour or so outside London in Clapham Junction. It wasn’t too bad a train ride to get into the city each day, and I had a lot of fun taking my boyfriend round all the major sights.

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square

We saw most if not all of the typical London things to see… The London Eye (although I’d already been on it and the boyfriend doesn’t do heights, so we didn’t go up it), Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, London Bridge etc. etc. I don’t feel like I can delve into everything that I love about London, simply because there’s so much. I’m not sure I’d necessarily want to live there, but I’ll definitely be going back as often as I can.

Covent Garden plus telephone boxes

Covent Garden plus telephone boxes

A few highlights, I guess, were Covent Garden, Big Ben and Hamley’s. I’m aware that Big Ben is the bell and not the building, but as I don’t know what the building is called Big Ben will have to do it (we didn’t see the bell…). I get the impression from conversations with my mother that Covent Garden is much more high-end than it was in the seventies and eighties, but I loved it nonetheless, despite or even maybe because of the fact that I couldn’t afford anything. I will be going back, with lots more money.

Covent Garden market hall

 

I think the main thing that endeared me to it was the way it was set out. I loved the contrast of the cheap and nasty souvenir and second hand market across the road from the kitschy, artsy stalls selling things like silk scarves, metalwork jewellery and carved wooden ornaments that I’d never have been able to get through Australian customs if my life depended on it. And then in the next few streets there were all the higher end stores selling off their own brands, like the Dr. Martens or the Cambridge Satchel Company pop-up store. We spent a good hour in the Tintin shop where the boy spent about as much money as I spent on my mask on merchandise, and to top it all off it looks really pretty at sunset. A plus in anyone’s books, I reckon.

Isn't it gorgeous?

Big Ben, and surrounds, I have to say were simply impressive. There’s not really another way to describe it. Even though I’ve been to London before, a few times (hell, I’d been just before going to Greece to get my passport renewed!) I don’t think I’ve ever been that close to Westminster Abbey, or if I have, I don’t think I realised it at the time. I was surprised by how dwarfed it is by its surrounds, making a fairly massive building by the standards of its time, appear quaint and understated, which you really don’t get from this picture at all…

Westminster Abbey (not looking quite so small from this angle)

Westminster Abbey (not looking quite so small from this angle)

Hamley’s I don’t really have any pictures of, just this one with me next to life-size Lego models of members of the royal family…

Lookit, Kate, Will and Harry. Also Phillip.

Lookit, Kate, Will and Harry. Also Phillip.

We were there during the Christmas shopping high period, and my poor boyfriend (kidding, it was hilarious) bore the brunt of some British humour in the form of an information attendant in Oxford Circus. As we came out of the tube station, we were both quite disoriented and weren’t sure which way the shop was, so we decided to ask for directions. The exchange went something like this:

Me: Hi, which way is Hamley’s?

Info Guy: (totally deadpan) Hamley’s? You’re out of luck, they’ve closed for Christmas!

Boyfriend: Oh… okay then

AND THEN HE STARTED TO WALK AWAY. I Think sometimes he’s way too polite to guess when people are joking… coming from a British background, I see now why he thinks my mother doesn’t like him. It’s not that, she just likes making fun of him. The poor info guy looked completely taken aback that he’d been taken seriously, having heard my accent he’d assumed we were both British and would understand, poor bloke unwittingly confused the life out of my silly Aussie boy, who hasn’t yet learnt from me that this is considered high class humour where I’m from…

After London, (having stayed in a small hostel above a pub in Clapham Junction, about an hour out of the city by train, and only been harassed by one drunken man for pizza) we moved on to Cambridge, where my parents were renting a flat for my dad’s sabbatical and mum’s long service leave (for those of you in countries where this doesn’t exist, basically she gets one school term, or ten weeks, worth of paid leave every ten years she works at that school. We were really lucky everything coincided like it did).

One of the many impressive university buildings in Cambridge

One of the many impressive university buildings in Cambridge

 

We stayed there, very cramped up (we took over my brother’s bedroom, and he slept on an air mattress in the hall) for a few days, wandering around Cambridge to museums and cafes, before heading to Lancashire to visit some old friends for a few days. We went on a walk through some farmland, and I saw the girls I went to nursery school with again.

Ah, Northern English countryside

Ah, Northern English countryside

From Lancashire we drove to Bromyard, a small town on the border with Wales, for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of my dad’s parents, at which point (or just before) I got really sick. Like, I didn’t change out of pajamas for about a week kind of sick (that sounds grosser than I intended. By no means did I wear the SAME pajamas for the week, I changed out of one pair and into another). Most of my family was there for this, which could have been slightly awkward for my boyfriend, suddenly being foisted upon my grandparents, aunt, three of my cousins and right at the end my uncle and his new wife, but if it was he didn’t show it. It was a pretty cottage-type house with plenty of room and it was a great week of celebrations, culminating in a massive Chinese take-out banquet, at which not nearly all of the food was eaten, because it’s Chinese take-out, it never ever gets finished and you always order too much rice.

The house in Bromyard

The house in Bromyard

We had an afternoon in Hay-on-Wye, another small town, this time just inside Wales, which is almost entirely made up of bookshops. I went gift shopping while everyone else went wandering, and then we got back in the car and drove into mid-Wales (I’m really not sure if that’s one word or not…) to see my mum’s parents and stay with them for a week. Still being sick, I wasn’t too keen on the walks around the village everyone else was going on, so with the promise that I’d come with when I came back at Christmas, they went without me.

One of few walks I DID do was around this dam (you can see the wall in the distance) which was overflowing. I'd been there a few months prior and the water wasn't even hitting the top of the wall, let alone going over it!

One of few walks I DID do was around this dam (you can see the wall in the distance) which was overflowing. I’d been there a few months prior and the water wasn’t even hitting the top of the wall, let alone going over it!

Another British-staple type-thing we did was drive from Wales to Manchester for a football game (soccer, for any Aussies or Americans reading. And potentially Canadians, what do you call football in Canada?). We watched Man City beat Aston Villa by an atrocious margin, just as well we were sitting on the City side (my home team). After the match, Dad drove us past the house we lived in when I was born, and pointed out all the differences. I was really appreciative of that, because I was only two when we moved from Manchester to a little village about three-quarters of an hour outside Lancaster.

 

Shocking. Aston Villa way off their game for the whole season, I believe.

Shocking. Aston Villa way off their game for the whole season, I believe.

Etihad Stadium

Etihad Stadium

The last big thing with did in the UK before flying on to Germany was go to Leavesden Studios in Watford Junction for the “Harry Potter Experience” it’s some of the best fun I’ve ever had (such that when I got back to the UK around Christmas, I went again with my little brother), and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who’s even a bit of a fan of the movies. They’ve got pretty much everything you could possibly want to see, and the interactive digital guides are a must. Seriously. Go there.

The bus you get from the train station to the studios

The bus you get from the train station to the studios

Me outside the studios

Me outside the studios

Mmm, butterbeer (I think it was some kind of creaming soda style pop, but not the noxious pink stuff you get here, with vanilla cream to get the "head")

Mmm, butterbeer (I think it was some kind of creaming soda style pop, but not the noxious pink stuff you get here, with vanilla cream to get the “head”)

I’m kicking myself for how long it’s taken me to write this, and I think I’ve only got two, maybe three posts to go before I’m finished writing about my trip and have to find something else to write about… in the meantime you can follow me on twitter or instagram (or both?) I’m helenrov on both, and I will most likely follow you back, although I’m still learning about using them so bear with me!

Next time: Germany, with maybe a little Amsterdam and Copenhagen.

Until then,

Helen