All One Language? 

Rosie Right

There is still discussion various places about Harry Potter's publisher's change in certain words from "British" English to "American" English. Michael Quinion in his World Wide Words Web site www.quinion.com/words writes that he feels the translations in the early Potter books tend to obscure the British setting of the book. He is especially offended by the change in title of the first books from "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" to "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone": "... the title change is a clumsy conversion that loses the reference to the original 'philosopher's stone,' that mythical substance beloved of the alchemists that could turn base metals into gold, cure all disease and prolong life indefinitely."

Quinion makes his point strongly when he discusses the film "Chicken Run." He says: "The change ... is surprising when you consider that Briticisms have been readily accepted in other imports. Take the recent film 'Chicken Run.' The Yorkshire dialect ('you great lummox,' 'nellypodging,' 'I didn't do owt!') hasn't stopped it being successful. Nor has its ironic homage to British World War Two prison-camp films, nor its gentle send-up of the WW2 fighter-pilot idiom and attitudes of the old cockerel ('Chocks away!' 'When I was in the RAF') nor the affectionate depiction of a certain kind of middle-aged British female (think of the knitting chicken in the big escape scene) …"

Quinion tells us that Scholastic Press has assured him they have stopped making so many changes to terminology "seemingly feeling that with greater success comes greater willingness to accept such British terminology as 'skiving off' (avoiding work)."

The excitement over the use of words seems to be a good sign to Rosie — not translating them seems to be another way we are going global.

How's That? Explain Please
From the New York Times, July 19, in a story about opposition to proposed legislation that would require trains to blow their horns at railroad crossings, Speaker Dennis Hastert was quoted as saying:

"The impact of the rule on my constituents and the people of Illinois cannot be understated."

Let Rosie hear from you by telephone (358-0825), letter (1118 W. Main St., Richmond, Va. 23220), fax (355-9089) or e-mail rmail@richmond.infi.net.


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