dwj-digest (Diana Wynne Jones) V1 #114

Gili Bar-Hillel abhillel at hotmail.com
Sun Jan 9 04:53:55 EST 2000

>	Melissa admitted:
>	"I was arrogant in the sense that I was hopelessly stuck up about being so 
>much smarter than my teachers.

I think one of the things I really like about this list is the feeling I 
don't have to limit myself in being smart so as not to put off other people. 
I have always over-participated in classes, I just can't help myself, but 
people tend to interpret this as showing off. For once I feel that the 
people on this list are really my peers...

Jennifer wrote:
>When I taught a class called "Reading and Interpreting" to a group of
>English majors this summer, I asked everybody to tell a story about a time
>when somebody disagreed with their interpretation of literature or when
>somebody really liked it...

ugh ugh ugh to the Romeo and Juliet story. ugh.

Not quite to the point: I once had an English teacher for English as a 
second language (for which I was by far overqualified to begin with, but it 
was the most advanced English class taught at my H.S. and no one was going 
to exempt me), who tried to teach us some spelling tricks, one of which was 
that all vegetables are spelled with double consonants: cabbage, lettuce, 
carrot, raddish...


I raised my hand and said that radish is only one d. She made me look it up 
in the dictionary because she didn't believe me, and then when I did, said 
that "raddish" must be an alternate spelling that for some odd reason isn't 
listed in my dictionary. Let alone the fact is was a rather useless spelling 
trick to begin with. I can't think of more than three vegetables that *do* 
have double consonants in them.

This is the same teacher that took off 2 points in an letter writing 
excercise I wrote as part of a very important exam, for the following 

"Every letter from you is just cause for a celebration"

and changed it to:

"Every letter from you is only cause for a celebration"

And other horrors, such as refusing to correct my grade because I would get 
a %100 in the matriculation exam anyway, so why bother arguing about it.

Anyway, last I heard of this woman, she was working for the ministry of 
education, as national coordinator of English studies, or something like 
that. Now you know why *I* will want to home-school my children.

Thanks to all for kind words, and thanks to Philip for the hilarious poem... 
actually, the babelfish translation isn't that bad, considering it's 
machine-made... lol!

As to your question about translating, Sally:
It *is* really hard sometimes, but I love it. my favorite part to translate 
in Harry Potter was the sorting hat's song: I basically wrote my own poem in 
Hebrew, trying to stick to a similar metre and rhyme scheme, and conveying 
as much of the same information as possible (an explenation of the sorting 
process and a verse for each of the four Hogwarts houses), and sticking in 
as many hat puns as I could. It was a lot of fun, actually, and though 
verbatim it's a different poem, IMHO it's true to the spirit of the 
original. (for instance, I stuck in a line about not having three corners 
but being special anyway, because of the children's song that's very popular 
here, I think its' originally German, that goes "My hat it has three 
corners, three corners has my hat...")

I don't know if I ever related this story here, but I landed the "Harry 
Potter" job as a sort of compensation prize for my translation of "The Land 
of Oz", which I had put a lot of work into, but just when I had it done, a 
different press issued an new Hebrew edition of the book - no Hebrew 
translation for ninety-some years, and then someone beats me to it by only a 
few months (the book is in the public domain, so there was no way to secure 
the translation rights...) Anyway, "The Land of Oz" is full of the most 
awful puns in the world. Some of them border of being painful (such as when 
General Jinjur leads her army of beautiful girls to the gates of the Emerald 
city and proclaims: "Make way! We are revolting!" To which the guardian of 
the gates replies: "You don't look revolting to me!") This other 
translator's solution was to simply ignore the puns, which I had spent so 
much effort trying to replicate in Hebrew... aagh! Anyway, spilt milk...

Diana Wynne Jones was actually mentioned in one of the papers that previewed 
Harry Potter in Israel this weekend. However, it seemed to me that the 
journalist who mentioned her book had no idea who she was, but was merely 
quoting out of someone else's review. He wrote that "Charmed Life" is also 
set in a school for Wizards. He also wrote that "Nesbit" (not even E. 
Nesbit, as if *everyone* know who "Nesbit" is) was a man, the author of 
"Babar" was named Laurent Habronvoch (it looks like someone at the newspaper 
misread someone's handwriting for "De Brunhoff"), Tolkein is the father of 
Anglo-American children's literature, and that almost all children's 
classics are either British or American, because childhood in English 
speaking countries is so much sweeter than in other countries. And he ticked 
me off by not even mentioning my name as translator, despite the fact that 
his editor contacted me a number of times to ask me for URLs for Potter 
websites and such. Pah.

And a man who interviewed me for a radio program was perturbed by the fact 
that adults seem to like the Harry Potter books. "Doesn't that meant these 
books might be too sophisticated for children, too many long words?" Me: "A. 
no, and B. I'm all for letting children read long words in books because 
that's the best way to learn what they mean. Children have a much larger 
capacity for learning than adults do." He: "And you say this because you 
have children?"


Okay, sorry for the rant, had to get all this out of my system.

Thanks for kind words from all...

BTW, Diana seems to be particularly fond of "Puss in Boots", see "Wilkin's 
Tooth" ("Witch's Business")


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