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Reading "Harry Potter" in the Original English is Better
on 7 June 2004
I am an American. I have already read all of the American version "Harry Potter" series of books, and have appreciated how the characters and the writing increased in complexity with each volume. (I am also beginning to wonder if the last few books are going to be able to be used as doorstops or lethal weapons if dropped on someone from on high....) I also knew that we Americans had been dealt an unfortunate hand when the publisher decided to name the first book, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" instead of "...the Philosopher's Stone." Oh! the frenzied arguments in churches we have endured!
I tend to read voraciously and without stop when the story and characters are well-written. I had noticed a lack of "Britishisms" but chalked it up to it being a children's book written for an international audience. However, when I read aloud to my husband on a road trip, the process is slower, and things come to my attention that usually escape my notice during my silent reading. I became very suspicious when some things began to sound "American." I finally hit the roof when I read about when the Captain of the Quidditch team, Wood, was showing Harry the sport's equipment. The book I was reading indicated that he picked up something that looked like "a baseball bat"! I learned that the American version had been wiped clean of "Britishisms" and the language had been changed to include "Americanisms."
I am 41-years-old and have a doctorate, but I know that most children here in the United States have managed to read C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia without needing it to be "translated" for them. I read it without difficulty as a child. We have many people who still read the KJV of the Bible, for goodness sake! And Shakespeare is studied and performed in the original. So, I was pleased to find out about amazon.co.uk and promptly ordered the entire Harry Potter set "in the original" English.
I now enjoy the series even more (and I have the beautiful phoenix cover on the last book instead of the mysterious blue cover). In addition, I no longer have the feeling that something is just not quite right with these children - that they don't seem to be British. After reading books that were never "translated" into "American," it just sounded too strange to read "Harry Potter" that way. I find that reading it the way it was originally written gives me a better sense of what is occurring. (Certainly, it may have created less of a crisis if the first book's title had been left alone!)
I can hardly wait until the next book is published, and you can be certain that I will be purchasing it "in the original" English.