crumpets & muffins

Joe Pickett Joe_Pickett at HMCO.COM
Thu Jan 18 21:01:27 UTC 2001

The Americanization of the Potter books is even stranger, given the fact
that most American kids are raised on Disney Britophilia such as Peter Pan,
Alice in Wonderland, 101 Dalmatians, Mary Poppins, The Sword in the Stone
(though recall the American-accented Arthur), The Great Mouse Detective
(one of my favorites), and many others.  If kids can get the Caterpillar
and Mad Hatter, why not the philosopher's stone?

But I think the Americanization of the Potter books actually was fairly
limited. For instance, Harry's friend Ron often uses the word "git" for
schoolmates he doesn't like. This word is not in most American dictionaries
and is unfamiliar to American kids and to most of their parents as well.


Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on 01/18/2001
02:32:36 AM

Please respond to American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>

Sent by:  American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>

Subject:  Re: crumpets & muffins

>I am astonished to find out that the UK edition calls Harry Potter a
>philosopher and the US edition calls him a sorcerer.
>Not too long ago, I received a letter from a Christian Orthodox priest
>saying not to buy Harry Potter's books because they are evil and they
>promote Satanism.
>There have been a lot of arguments on this issue!
There was a nice Op-Ed piece in the Times on the dumbing-down of the
Potter books just after the new one came out--the idea was that
publishers assume today's children are far less capable than their
parents and grandparents at coping with the fact that not everyone
uses exactly the same terms, and wondering if Dickens and other
British authors would now be Americanized so our kids can pretend
that the whole world is just one big U.S.    But I don't think it was
that Harry Potter is called a sorcerer rather than a philosopher but
rather that the title "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" was
adapted to "...Sorcerer's Stone".  Guess they figured American
children are more familiar with the Sorcerer's Apprentice (from
Disney's Fantasia) than with their Aristotle and Schopenhauer.

I think the Satanism/censorship issue is a rather different one, even
if ultimately related via xenophobia.


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