“Are you kidding? It’s obviously a huge… you know… hanging from the ceiling.”
While I let your imagination figure that out let me discuss some business. Next week, to celebrate the one year
anniversary of my blog, I will be giving my book, Betting Jessica, away for free on Kindle. Tell your friends… it is a great way to snag some summer reading.
Okay, so now that I’ve gotten that out of the way… back to my overhear.
My husband and I are definitely not art experts; not that we don’t appreciate art, but some of it, especially of the
modern variety, leaves us scratching our heads. So I had to chuckle when I heard the couple having a conversation not unlike a recent one of ours.
The funny thing, though, was the rest of the conversation:
“Nooooo… seriously? Are you kidding me?”
"Well than what is it?” (Said in an annoyed tone of voice).
Innuendo is funny that way. What might be obvious to many can be lost on a few. In the romance genre there are varying levels of heat (another innuendo meaning sexuality). Description and use of sexual relations can range
from the erotic to the sweet. Since my writing is sweet, innuendo can play an important role.
The problem is that, although I might know where I am going with language my readers who I have been thrilled to note are as far away as Australia and Italy, may have no clue what I am talking about. Cultural relevance has a strong impact on innuendo. So that hot dog (which, by the way, is a uniquely American term) might not bring to mind the same universal image as sausage.
Cultural relevance goes far beyond nationality, however. In a white paper entitled, Culturally Relevant Physical Education in Urban Schools: Reflecting Cultural Knowledge, by Sara B. Flory and Nate McCaughtry, they define culture as: local to the social situation, including socioeconomic status, language, family structure, violence and crime, personal and public safety, immigration issues, race, ethnicity, and religion.
I would also add age to that definition, as this too influences how a person defines the world around them. It is obvious when writing for children for example, that adding age-appropriate words goes beyond length and complexity. Great children’s authors incorporate significant aspects of lifestyle into their writing (e.g. referencing video games, or school environments).
The trick as writers is to understand our audience and what they find relevant… while at the same time not becoming so specific that other readers feel left out.
I felt sorry for the woman who couldn’t understand her partner’s reference. I wanted to explain to her that if she simply walked a few blocks down to the Rose Festival she could experience a corn-dog for herself and see how much it looked like that piece of art hanging from the ceiling.