changed words in Harry Potter books

Nancy Elliott nelliott1 at EARTHLINK.NET
Fri Jan 19 03:20:32 UTC 2001

> From: Tony Glaser <tonyglaser at MINDSPRING.COM>
> Reply-To: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2001 19:19:04 -0500
> Subject: Re: trains and Harry Potter was: Re: crumpets & muffins
>  Was there another Harry Potter book which got its
> title changed perhaps?
> Tony Glaser

The titles of the other Harry Potter books are the same in Britain and the

Scenes for the film-in-progress of "Harry Potter and the
Philosopher's/Sorcerer's Stone" which contain the expression we Americans
were supposedly too ignorant to feel comfortable with, and which therefore
had to be changed, are being shot both ways, and there will be two versions
of the film.

The Spanish translation of the book has the title "Harry Potter y la piedra
filosofal" and the Italian book is "Harry Potter e la pietra filosofale."
The French and German translations also use the expression 'philosopher's
stone.' I bet the American publishers are sorry now that they doubted the
American public's willingness to handle a children's book with the word
'philosopher' in it, but it's too late to change that.

As for J.K. Rowling changing other vocabulary for the American versions,
here is an excerpt from an interview with her:

"...what's this about changing some of the words in the U.S. edition so
American children could understand them?
Rowling pretended to bang her head against the sofa in mock frustration.
``SO much has been made of that,'' she groans, noting that it was only done
where words had been used that really meant something very different to
Her American editor pointed out that the word ``jumper'' - British for
pullover sweater - means a kind of dress in American. She had had no idea.
``He asked, 'Can we change it to sweater?' which is just as British.'' That
was fine with Rowling."

        --- from "Success Stuns Harry Potter Author"  by Audrey Woods
(Associated Press, July 6, 2000)

Nancy Elliott
Southern Oregon University

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