The Great Linguistic Desert

This is my response to this week’s Friday Fictioneers, and some of you will recognize the characters this week. More about that after the story.

Copyright Jean Hays

Copyright Jean Hays

The Great Linguistic Desert

The compact car shuddered to a stop.

“I’ll take a look under the bonnet.”

AnElephant will do no such thing.” Dawn glared at her companion. “The baby just fell asleep. That bonnet is keeping the sun out of his eyes.”

El stared at her, then laughed. “Wrong bonnet.” He pointed at the smoking front of the vehicle. “You have a jug of water in the boot, right?”

“In the—oh yeah, the trunk.”

“It’s a good thing we don’t have a flat tyre.” El winked at his companion. “We’d spend all afternoon arguing about how to spell it.”


Every week, about 100 writers from around the globe participate in Friday Fictioneers by presenting their 100-word stories based on the photo prompt. Although we usually present our responses in English, occasionally there are a few issues with translation. You may recognize names of my characters. AnElephant is one of our long-time participants who hails from Scotland, and there are a couple lovely ladies from the states with the name “Dawn.” This one’s for all of you. If you haven’t met these other fine bloggers, follow the links within the story and go introduce yourself.

42 thoughts on “The Great Linguistic Desert

  1. I love the play on words, MG! And I will just keep my guesses to myself and quietly gloat. 😉 Love the shout out! As lame as I’ve been lately!

    • storydivamg says:

      I confess that when I’m struggling to get traffic to my blog, I often link to others to drive traffic both directions. It’s a mutually beneficial method of self-promotion. Honestly, though, this story popped into my mind almost immediately upon viewing the prompt. It only took a little while for me to choose my “characters” from our little band, and then the story mostly told itself. Glad you enjoyed being included.


      • I always drive to your site… it’s on my regular stops list! Always a good story, and good company. 🙂 I’ve just been so absent lately, barely keeping up with life! I fear it will get worse this summer, before it gets better! Thanks for including me. xox

        • storydivamg says:

          Awww . . . Thank you, Dawn! And you know I wouldn’t link to yours in one of my stories if I didn’t enjoy your work too.

          As to absence and the difficulty of keeping up, this happens to us all. I think we should institute a “no apologies” zone for blogger friends here. It will help us all manage the real stressors of life to know our e-friends will be waiting with outstretched arms when we are able to pop online, even if it is only for a moment or after a few weeks of absence.

  2. Well IDK which one of us it is but hope its me being paired up with the ever charming AnElephant 😉

    • storydivamg says:

      He’s quite the dapper fellow, isn’t he? He almost missed out on being featured here due to that rather elephant-sized pen name of his, but I know AnElephant has a way with the ladies and figured the Dawns would rather be stranded in the desert with him than with any other fellow from across the pond. 😉

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  3. Excellent play on words, boot and bonnet. Hope they find that water! 🙂

    • storydivamg says:

      One should never ever set out on a road trip across the Great American Desert without a gallon or two of water. I’m sure Dawn (whichever Dawn this happens to be) knows this well and has planned accordingly. Glad you enjoyed the story.

      All my best,

  4. micklively says:

    One has to be so patient with these colonials! Do you know, some of the blighters don’t even dress for dinner?

    • storydivamg says:

      Ah, Mick, you make me smile.

      My paternal grandfather was a first-generation American of British descent, and he and Grandma, a proper New England lady, taught me to speak the queen’s English. Despite that influence, growing up in Kansas meant I had to learn colonial speech as well, so I’ve often referred to myself as bilingual.

      As to dressing for dinner–this is a recurring theme in my home. I am often horrified by the casual attire sported by my inlaws when we gather for family dinners on holidays.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  5. Mike says:

    Very clever why to bring friends into your story. I like it.

  6. Sandra says:

    I don’t mind the fact that we use different words for the same thing. But when people start correcting my spelling… 🙂 A wry little piece Marie-Gail. Well done.

    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Sandra! In a way, this is a piece of my own history here. It depends on whom I’m communicating with whether I share a bit of humour or a bit of humor, chat about colouring or coloring, or talk about the kids school projects or projects . . .

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  7. I often have to google for understanding with FF posts, and I have to wrestle with my spell check sometimes to make it do things my way. The beauty of diversity!

  8. Hoods, trunks, bonnets, boots, fenders, bumpers, petrol, gas……! Viva la difference!

    Visit Keith’s Ramblings!

  9. Dear Marie Gail,

    We are two countries divided by a common language. I remember a particular disagreement when an American writer corrected a British writer on the use of the word ‘smelt.’ Another American corrected a Brit on her spelling of tyre. Great stuff. Personally I relish the cultural exchange in this group and find myself using “colour” on cake orders without thinking.

    I love your little tale.



    • storydivamg says:

      Thanks, Rochelle! Before I became a web-content writer, I often switched back and forth between American and UK English rather indiscriminately. Now I usually stick to one or the other in a single piece of writing. Thankfully, my current version of Windows has an easy-access toggle on the toolbar for me to click when I need to change my spellcheck.

      So glad you enjoyed this one.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  10. rgayer55 says:

    I chuckled my way through this one, MG. That’s one of the things I’ve always loved about FFF, the spellings and expressions that are particularly unique to our part of the world.

    • storydivamg says:

      If I’ve made the great Russell Gayer chuckle, my mission is complete. So glad you enjoyed this one. I’ve never considered comedy to be my strong suit, but occasionally I can come up with a zinger.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  11. gahlearner says:

    Hehehe, that was original and very funny. Imagine me, as a non native speaker, constantly struggling about which version of spelling, or which term, to use, and being baffled by corrections. I got used to it over the years and now can laugh.

    • storydivamg says:

      I most definitely feel your pain, Gah! I grew up being exposed to both UK and American English, so I understand them both, but I’ve had plenty of circumstances where my fellows on the playground didn’t understand what I was trying to communicate. I think laughing over these situations is the best route to take.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

  12. Vinay Leo R. says:

    Even now, I mix them up at times 😀

    • storydivamg says:

      It took working daily for Americans, Aussies and Brits before I could consistently get the spellings and turns of phrase correct. Thank goodness for the ENG toggle on my PC. Otherwise I would likely have multiple errors each day even now.

  13. It’s not just words that differ, spellings do too. So does our sense of humour – or is it humor?

    Rosey Pinkerton’s blog

    • storydivamg says:

      Oh yes, and the pronunciation of the vowels too. One online poetry forum where I moderated for several years included people from around the world. There were a few heated debates over iambic pentameter. One American gentleman insisted that the meter would not change based on a reader’s accent. I finally had to tell him, “Of course it does. That’s why it’s called an accent–the accented syllables occasionally change.”

      Also, Rosey–I wanted to mention that I have attempted to visit your blog, but the security settings over at Blogspot are almost impossible for me to get passed. Apparently, I am “not a real person.” If you are able to change those settings, please let me know and I will be happy to read more from you.

      All my best,
      Marie Gail

      • Marie Gail, I had the same problem with Rosey’s sight for awhile then suddenly – Ta-Da! I could easily get in. Who knows?

        • storydivamg says:

          I’m glad to know it’s not just me. It does, however, appear to be an ongoing problems with Blogspot. I’ve taken to responding to Perry’s stories directly on Facebook because I’ve had so many problems with posting on his blog, and there are a couple Fictioneers whose Blogspot sites actually crash my browser every time I try to visit. So for now, I’m staying away from Blogspot. Wish everyone would just move over to a more reader-friendly platform, but I know that moving one’s blog is quite a hassle. I hate that I can’t interact with some Fictioneers just because of the platform they use.

  14. This is a delightful piece using names from our merry band.

  15. Dale says:

    Love it!

  16. draliman says:

    Fun take on the language difference thing, and I love how you’ve merged in some other FF regulars!

  17. Love the play on words.

  18. Margaret says:

    I had a chuckle at this, Marie Gail. Several years ago I hosted an American exchange teacher. I was advising her on the best clothes to bring, and stressed that she’d need a jumper. I meant the weather would be cool, and she’d need a sweater – she thought we Australians had some kind of strange obsession with pinafore dresses. Makes life interesting.

  19. ceayr says:

    I don’t know.
    That pedantic pinkster seems to get everywhere.
    Good story ruined by his nonsense as usual.

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