Changing words (was Re: Checking in)

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Wed Feb 4 10:43:05 EST 2004


widdy asked

>Has anyone heard of an instance where an *American* book was changed
>for the British/Australian/New Zealand/Canada/English-speaking country
>of your choice market?

I hadn't until Emma's reply.  How would I know, though?  Until it became
comparatively simple to find these things out by posting here, I wouldn't
know if the Puffins I have of Elizabeth Enright or Edward Eager have been
altered for the British child or not, nor yet the Katy stories -- though I
think the presence of a "Katy-did" means probably not, in that particular
case, because that's not an English insect I recognised as a child, no more
than I knew what a "squash" was.  (Still don't, unless it's a pumpkin, but
those get turned into lanterns at Halloween so I suppose it can't be.)

The only American book being changed for sale in England that I remember
was a fuss at one point when some dwerpie tried to mess with Huck Finn, but
I think that was more to try to make it politically correct than to change
the "strange" diction so it may have been for all readers not just for the
English, and I don't think it came to anything in the end anyhow, being as
how there isn't all that much story left if the fact of a negro slave in
the middle gets taken out.  Somehow without Jim, the plot is lame, and
attempts to make him a white man who was just keen to get to somewhere else
than the place he lived would be doomed to failure, I'd've thought.

The thing that astonished me was that the book seemed to be being viewed as
"wrong" because it was perceived by the person who wanted to change it as
being "pro-slavery".  Or at the very least as being wrong because it
mentioned slavery at all, and slavery was wrong so one should just keep
quiet about it.  Or something.  Very, very strange mindset, I thought.  Did
anyone who read that book really think it was in *favour* of slavery?

Minnow


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