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Doing English

Why I ate whale meat

in The Doing English Blog

People love to get offended, don’t they?

Have a look at the two comments from a YouTube video I posted yesterday:

Now, I guess they’re not that bad.

The title in question was:

How to Eat a Whale – The Power of Incremental English Improvement

You can find it here, but the thing is, neither of these people (1) bothered to check that the title (How to Eat a Whale) wasn’t a proverb with an idiomatic meaning.

The use of whale is because it’s… BIG. It’s not advocating the consumption of sea mammals. It’s (rightly) pointing out that to achieve a large task, you’ve got to break it down.

But regardless…

Neither commenter bothered to consider that (2) just because THEY find the concept of eating whale offensive, not all people do.

I’ve eaten whale.

And honestly?

It tastes like crap!

When I worked in public schools here in Japan, whale meat was on the menu once a year. In the past Japan hunted and harvested a lot of whales for meat. And they still do. Not in large quantities. But they do. And the meat is on the school lunch menu once a year or so in the form of a “heritage food”. My father-in-law also bought it home once.

Think of it what you will.

‘cos it ain’t your business.

I remember one American girl complaining loudly to the school we worked at — to principle, to the teachers and to students. Because it was whale meat and she believed it was wrong.

Frankly, she was out of order.

It was embarrassing for everyone and the school asked our company not to send her to the school again. It wasn’t her place to voice her beliefs.

Which is why on the few occasions when it was whale meat for lunch, I ate it without complaint — regardless of my personal feelings on the matter.

When in Rome, as they say.

And if you think this has nothing to do with you, think again. Because by definition you use English with people who are NOT from your culture and are, at some point, going to come across things you don’t like.

And that’s all this is.

A cultural difference.

Anyway, whatever. That’s not what that video was about anyway.

It was about the power of incremental improvement.

Best,
Julian

P.S. The other point is…

Regardless of what you say or do SOMEONE will piss and moan about it.

Fact.

So no point in worrying about it.

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