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Re: [sacredlandscapelist] Re: Harry Potter & The Salesman of Venice

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  • CG
    Interesting article, Barry. As a Teacher of English as a Second Language in Japan I can tell you straight up that it makes a helluva lot of difference to
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 1 5:53 AM
      Interesting article, Barry. As a Teacher of English as a Second Language in
      Japan I can tell you straight up that it makes a helluva lot of difference
      to non-native speakers how something is spelled, pronounced and referred to
      (lorry for truck).

      Here in Japan, "American English" leads the way-- anything else is slightly
      frowned upon. But when I visited Hong Kong and considered working there the
      reverse is true: there "British English" is favored. Were I to persist in
      teaching "Do you have any money?" instead of the British, "Have you got any
      money?" I would soon be out of a job in Hong Kong! : )

      These things matter, but just not the way the writer is implying.


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      >From: Barry Carroll <palladin@...>
      >To: sacredlandscapelist@egroups.com
      >Subject: [sacredlandscapelist] Re: Harry Potter & The Salesman of Venice
      >Date: Tue, Aug 1, 2000, 2:32 PM

      >>Harry Potter, Minus a Certain Flavour
      >>By PETER H. GLEICK
      >> BERKELEY, Calif. -- My family, like so many others, was excited
      >> about Saturday's release of yet another Harry Potter book. But
      >> although there are many legitimate reasons for praising the
      >> series -- the exciting plots, the new young readers being drawn
      >> to books, the quality of the writing -- I am disappointed about
      >> one thing: the decision by Scholastic, publisher of the American
      >> edition, to translate the books from "English" into "American."
      >> Scholastic even went so far as to change the title of the first
      >> Harry Potter book from "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's
      >> Stone" to "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."
      > [my emphasis.
      > Is this true? B.]
      >> Why? Were the editors worried that some people wouldn't buy the
      >> book because they couldn't understand it in its original
      >> language? Were they concerned that some children would be
      >> confused by new words for otherwise familiar objects or actions?
      >> I like to think that our society would not collapse if our
      >> children started calling their mothers Mum instead of Mom. And I
      >> would hate to think that today's children would be frightened
      >> away from an otherwise thrilling book by reading that the hero
      >> is wearing a jumper instead of a sweater.
      >> Are we afraid that when presented with new vocabulary, children
      >> will shrink away? Or that alternative spellings of previously
      >> known words will make children (and adults) suddenly start
      >> spelling things wrong, sending school test scores falling?
      >> A careful reading of both the English and the American editions
      >> of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" reveals three kinds
      >> of substitutions. The first are spelling differences: gray for
      >> grey, color for colour, flavor for flavour, pajamas for pyjamas,
      >> recognize for recognise and the like.
      >> The second are differences in common words or phrases: pitch
      >> turns to field, sellotaped to taped, fortnight to two weeks,
      >> post to mail, boot of car to trunk of car, lorry to truck.
      >> The third are metamorphoses of truly English experiences or
      >> objects into something different, but distinctly American:
      >> crumpets to English muffins, for example (a particular odious
      >> change, in my opinion).
      >> My two sons didn't have any difficulty understanding the British
      >> version of the book sent to them by their aunt in London.
      >> I admit to occasionally offering the meaning of a new word the
      >> first time it appeared, but don't we do that with every book we
      >> read to our children, or help them read to themselves?
      >> Do we really want children to think that crumpets are the same
      >> as English muffins? Frankly, reading about Harry and Hermione
      >> eating crumpets during tea is far more interesting to an
      >> American than reading about them eating English muffins during a
      >> meal.
      >> Are any books immune from this kind of devolution from English
      >> to "American" English? Would we sit back and let publishers
      >> rewrite Charles Dickens or Shakespeare? I can see it now: "A
      >> Christmas Song," "A Story of Two Cities," "The Salesman of
      >> Venice."
      >> By protecting our children from an occasional misunderstanding
      >> or trip to the dictionary, we are pretending that other cultures
      >> are, or should be, the same as ours.
      >> By insisting that everything be Americanized, we dumb down our
      >> own society rather than enrich it.
      >> As for Harry Potter's latest adventures, my children and I will
      >> wait for the British version coming by mail.
      >> Peter H. Gleick is the author of "The World's Water 2000-2001."
      >> ______________________________________________________________
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