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#2493 - 05/17/00 03:44 AM Taslations inter pares
juanmaria Offline

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 163
Loc: Malaga, Spain.
I’ve just bought an U.K. edition of ‘The catcher in the rye’. It has this note on it’s back:
‘This new edition reproduces, for the first time in Penguin Books, the original American text.’.
My first thought was censorship or abridgement but why they're using ‘American’ in this phrase?.
I’ve seen commercial software released in different versions for USA and UK, but now I’m suspecting some kind of ‘language adaptation’ in books.
Am I paranoid?.
I’ve seen films or TV series dubbed in Spain’s Spanish and American Spanish but I’ve never heard about this kind of ‘translating’ on books. Does anybody know if it happens with English books?.

Juan Maria.

#2494 - 05/17/00 04:16 AM Re: Taslations inter pares
jmh Offline

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
I think books have always been "translated" between UK and USA Editions. Earlier we had a dicussion about "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" which is called "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" in the USA.

Because of copyright it hasn't been possible in the past to sell books across regions. The publishers have to pay for separate rights for the UK and USA.

I'm looking at a copy of Truman Capote's "Breakfast at Tiffany's", copyright 1958. It looks like the UK edition dates back to 1961. All the spellings are in UK English - colour, not color. I assume the same "trnaslation" would apply to a copy of, say, George Orwell's "1984" bought in the USA.

Apart from travel, academic study and making an effort to read, say "The New York Times" is the first exposure many people have had to the differences in our languages.

I know that pronunciation of words like "gallo" differs between South America and Spain - do the spellings differ too?

#2495 - 05/17/00 07:39 AM Re: Taslations inter pares
shanks Offline
old hand

Registered: 03/16/00
Posts: 1004
Loc: London, UK
It is common practice in UK and US versions of books to American-ise or Anglicise the spellings. Most British books, when published in the States, will have honour changed to honor, metre to meter and so on. I think the effective hegemony of American publishing in English today means that the opposite will be rarer, but may have been the case when 'The Catcher in the Rye' was first published. It is insidious, in that few of us notice it unless we are in the habit of buying books on both sides of the pond (something I have been doing with greater frequency over the last year), but I do not believe it is any more sinister than, say, the modernising of spelling in, say, Jane Austen to improve comprehension. (For instance, Austen used the form 'shew' instead of 'show', but only a language historian would see the need for the continuation of that spelling in modern editions of her works.)

Having said which, the effect is sometimes more pronounced. Stephen Jay Gould wrote a book called 'Full House' (with the pun on poker and so on), which was published in the UK under the title 'Life's Grandeur'. The author himself was, presumably, so embarrassed by this that he added a small note to it explaining this change (which is the only reason why I picked up on it). We have also had a thread on this board earlier regarding the excellent Harry Potter series, and the change in title from UK to US versions from 'the Philosopher's Stone' to the 'Sorceror's Stone'.

Interesting thought, though.


the sunshine warrior

#2496 - 05/17/00 07:05 PM Re: Taslations inter pares
Philip Davis Offline

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 81
From another thread Gould's "Life's Grandeur" also contains an excellent baseball primer for british readers. The change of title from Full House appears to have been a decision by Gould himself, who was unsure if the poker reference would be got by british readers (I consider it would have been, poker is a common enough game over here). I do think that publishers and film distributors certainly used to patronise their audencies by changing titles but this seems to be less common this side of the pond where we are daily introduced to american culture for hours at a time.

#2497 - 05/18/00 02:19 AM Re: Taslations inter pares
jmh Offline

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
>introduced to american culture for hours at a time

In the past, this has largely been through the spoken word, so most people in the UK (who's job or life doesn't cross national boundaries) will be aware of "color" and "center" and a few others .. but maybe not much more.

It is also easy to understand the gist of story in context, take the contex away and we are left with the kind of conversations we've been having in this group.

It is the World Wide Web which has given people much greater access to the unedited originated-at-source written word. Perhaps that is a temporary blip - maybe voice will be the main method of communication over the web in a few years - who knows?

#2498 - 05/18/00 04:09 AM Re: Taslations inter pares
Rubrick Offline

Registered: 05/18/00
Posts: 679
Loc: Somewhere outside New York
I recently bought the Penguin complete novels of George Orwell and was surprised to find that it was first published in the USA. Despite being 50 years passing since the year it was first published the book was printed in the original state - that is, in the American style of spelling and dating e.g 'color' and 03/26/1984. A little annoying at the start, given that it is set in Britain, but it eventually became intriguing given that in Orwell's anti-utopian novel, the isle of Britain is no more than an extreme outpost of what is a vastly 'Americanised' state now adopting American standards.

But I digress.... I have read the same version of 'Catcher in the Rye' which is referred to above. I can only presume that Penguin have published '1984' as it was originally printed and that CITR was anglicised due to its huge amount of colloquial slang.

#2499 - 05/18/00 03:42 PM Re: Taslations inter pares
juanmaria Offline

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 163
Loc: Malaga, Spain.
After jmh’s magicwebcam that’s been the thing that has shocked me the most lately!.
I’m not very glad about the news. As a foreigner I love English for English’s sake. I don’t want it to be ‘tamed’, sometimes I found myself in dire straits with some words or expressions but what are the dictionaries and internet for?.

Because of its promptly -and cheap- delivery I use to buy books at amazon.co.uk but, maybe, I should order them form USA or UK based sites depending on the author’s nationality.

The ‘make-up’ they do is only about titles and spelling?. I mean do they respect slang and localisms?. Those are some of the things I like the most about reading English books.

I’m pretty sure that Spanish books aren’t touched in any way. We spell the words the same way although the pronunciation and even the meaning can be very different. There are very old words and expressions that nobody uses in Spain that have been kept alive in America, another words have evolved to mean different things and newly coined words have grow from different seeds.
Of the second group there’s an example that keeps people blundering continuously. To pick something up in Spain is ‘coger’ and we can use this words hundreds of times a day, in America you are supposed to say ‘tomar’ o ‘recoger’ because ‘coger’ means to have sexual intercourse. I’m remembering an old joke about a Spaniard sending a telegram from Argentina to some friend in Spain.
An example of the last group is computer -ordenador (from French ‘ordinateur’) in Spain and computador (from English computer) in America-.

Juan Maria.

#2500 - 05/18/00 03:43 PM Re: Taslations inter pares
juanmaria Offline

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 163
Loc: Malaga, Spain.
Here, in Spain, film distributors use to change the titles of the films they dub (almost everybody wants dubbed films here but I retaliate with my brand new DVD), and, sometimes, they find themselves in pretty awkward situations caused by their own decisions. They deserve it!.
When ‘Die-hard’ was made those clever guys didn’t think about any sequel and they named it ‘La jungla de cristal’ ‘The glass jungle’. Very appropriate with this sky-scrapper all glass and iron. Sadly enough you could hardly find a glass in ‘La jungla de cristal’ II and III.

Juan Maria.

#2501 - 05/19/00 04:14 AM Re: Taslations inter pares
jmh Offline

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
My understanding is that amazon.com is based in the USA ans amazon.co.uk is based in the UK.

I would exoect that the editions they sell originate in the country the site is based. It might be worth e-mailing them. As it is such a big company now (but still hasn't made a profit) it might be possible to specify which edition you would like. There are lots of other web-based book-sellers so it might be worth checking out.

I suspect that the trend towards globalisation might change all that anyway, then we can all read books in their original language. I notice that business titles are often available only in their American editions.

Good luck


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