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Author Topic: British slang in HP books  (Read 509 times)

Cho Chung

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British slang in HP books
« on: June 24, 2004, 09:19:25 AM »

Mad asked this question in the HP versions thread, and I thought it interesting enough to warrant its own thread, so here it is:

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Alright, here's a question or two for our UK members.  What exactly is "treacle" and how do you pronounce it?  I looked it up, but I'd like to hear it from someone besides a dictionary.    And when Tonks says, "Wotcher" to Harry, what does she mean?  (And how do you pronounce it?)

... and 7 points to Mad for a great discussion idea!
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Cho Chung

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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2004, 11:33:10 PM »

Here was Susan's reply:
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Oooh, I haven't been back in a while, but if memory serves....

Treacle (tree-sull) is this brownish-black thick syrupy stuff, much like the molasses that I've seen in the south, only treacle is sweeter.

Wotcher (wah-cha) is more Australian than Brit, really, but asking what it means is much like asking a Californian what "Dude!" means.  They're pretty much the same thing, from my understanding.

Feel free to correct me, if old age has doddered my ickle mind and all....
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Madeleine

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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2004, 11:49:14 PM »

Then Lauren said:

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I think that the first three books changed a few things from Birtish to "American" English, but the fourth and fifth books ceased to change things, and soccer became football and sweaters became jumpers. I think.
[/color]
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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2004, 11:51:13 PM »

  ??? Why are sweaters called "jumpers?"  Jumpers are something else here.  (Dresses designed to be worn over a shirt, basically.  Sort of overalls with a skirt instead of pants, but nicer than sterotypical farmer overalls.)

What else is different, and why?  I know about soccer/football.  The difference between sweets and candy is, I'm sure, just a matter of usage, but what's *really* different.

For example, why is there such a big difference in the meaning of "pants?"  I remember a teacher at my elementary school doing an exchange with a British teacher, and telling us about her experience when she got back.  She had spilled coffee on her ... er, trousers.  Slacks.  Whatever.  And she said, in front of the class, "Oh no!  I spilled coffee on my pants!"  They, of course, being, what, third-graders? laughed uproariously.  That's when SHE learned there was a difference in meaning.  :laugh:
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Lauren Weasley

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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2004, 09:24:48 PM »

I thought that this was funny and applicable, even if it was ancient.   ;D

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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2004, 09:29:15 PM »

LoL!! :laugh: :laugh: :roll: that's a great link Lauren!
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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2004, 10:19:19 PM »

LOL.  Very amusing.

Okay, I have a question that I'm nearly sure will make me sound stupid, but hopefully you know me well enough to think that sometimes I'm just a little slow.  ;)  It said at the top of the article- here, I'll just quote it.

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There has been some controversy about alleged "dumbing down" of the American edition of J.K. Rowling's wildly popular Harry Potter books, because of the title change of the first one to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (thereby missing the major plot point), along with some changes to the vocabulary


What major plot point did it miss?  Is there some other nuance to "Philosopher" that's somehow different in Britain that it is in America?[/color]
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Ping

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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2004, 08:49:37 AM »

Actually, I've always heard treacle as "tree-cull." It's a thick, syrupy sort of thing.

And Wotcher isn't just Australian, but cockney, at least from the uses I've heard of it.

(Is there a way to become a certified anglophile without having been to the country?)

The Philosopher's Stone refers to the goal of most alchemists--it would, as did Flamel's stone, give immortality and turn lead to gold. These were the two things they were looking for. Supposedly, Nicholas Flamel, who was a real person, made one, but no one really had any proof of this.

Changing it to "sorceror's stone" took away the meaning. Any sorceror could have a stone with any magical power, but the "philosopher's stone" had specific connotations.

I don't know that it REALLY changed the book. I was pleasantly surprised when I finally learned that it was a different title in the UK, because I'd known what a PS was for a long time, and it clicked when I finally heard it.
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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2004, 10:33:12 AM »

Oh, so it's a real legend, and that's why it makes more sense.  A "sorcerer's stone" seems rather generic in comparison, then, right?  Okay, that makes more sense to me.  ... I think I need to read more.
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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2004, 10:37:20 AM »

That, or just watch the History Channel tons. :D

I've been trying to think of some other slang terms that occur in the books, but to me, it all sounds normal, 'cause I tend to read British authors more than American ones.
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Cho Chung

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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2004, 11:10:06 AM »

In Dickens' A Christmas Carol, toward the end of the book after Scrooge has had his change of heart, he sends a young boy to the butcher's and buy the biggest goose in the shop.  To this, the boy exlaims, "Walker!"  Reminds me a bit of "Wotcher," carrying the same kind of meaning. 

(Just imagine a Christmas Carol being performed California style and instead of the young boy saying Walker, saying "Duuuuuuuude!"  ;D
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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2004, 12:10:05 PM »

What else is different, and why?  I know about soccer/football.  The difference between sweets and candy is, I'm sure, just a matter of usage, but what's *really* different.

I think I saw a list of all the differences in the UK/US versions of the HP books somewhere...Yes, HP-Lexicon has this page about it:
http://www.hp-lexicon.org/about/books/differences.html - even with individual pages that list the differences in each book. There are in fact many more differences than I thought, but most of them are just small things.

The only really different thing I can remember is that the muggle sweets that Dumbledore likes is called "Lemon drops" in one version and "Sherbet lemons" in the other. Changing something like that doesn't make sense to me - the name of a sweet should be the same everywhere, simply because it's a name. Like, Mars chocolate is called Mars everywhere, not "Sram" or some other silly name in some places, if that makes sense to anyone?
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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2004, 12:39:36 AM »

Ah, but Mars is a company, whereas lemon drops are just a type of candy, rather than a brand name. There are quite a few things that are named differently--cookies in the US are biscuits in the UK, for example.

It just annoys me when us poor stupid Americans aren't expected to know the differences. I mean, I've known about a boot and bonnet for years. Then again, I also watched a lot of Doctor Who as a kid... :D
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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2004, 10:21:50 AM »

Waitwait. Cookies = US, biscuits = UK? We use both interchangeably here, so I didn't know. You learn something new every day ...
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Ping

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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #14 on: October 25, 2004, 05:34:40 PM »

Yep, that's how it goes. :) *hands you a cookie and a biscuit* :D
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Cho Chung

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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #15 on: October 26, 2004, 08:51:25 PM »

I tend to think of a biscuit as more bread-y and a cookie as more, well, cookie-y (sweet, harder, etc.).  I dunno. Perhaps there are regional differences in the US, too?
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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #16 on: October 26, 2004, 09:04:12 PM »

To me a biscuit is, as you said, bready. The sort of thing you get at KFC with your chicken.  Like rolls.

Cookies are sweet. As in chocolate chip cookies. 

In Britain, it's not, though. :)
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Christine

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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #17 on: March 27, 2005, 10:19:56 AM »

I have a question that has been bugging me for a long time: do you pronounce "git" with a "g" sound or a "j" sound? It's driving me stark mad.
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Marold

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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #18 on: March 28, 2005, 04:49:09 PM »

I think I had to get used to in the books or being around a few british people is the way they use scone.  I don't think it's mentioned in the books, yes it's been over a year since I've read them and I'm sorry for the slacking on my part.  Anywho, I've grown up calling a scone a piece of dough that's fried in grease so it puffs up, mostly like Indian Fry bread.  But those in other states and other Countries that I know call a scone something that is baked.  Mind boggling really.  :o :o
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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #19 on: March 29, 2005, 11:39:13 PM »

I was searching for just this subject online a while back and I found a really neat site that I added to my favorites. It's not HP related, but it does give a rather thorough explanation of British slang and language differences and "translate" it to American. The website is http://www.english2american.com.

And Christine, I've wondered about the same thing for AGES, and never found an answer. I've always pronounced it with the J-sound, as in jelly, but I've heard it both ways. Does anyone know?

[edit]I swear one of these days I'm going to exterminate all the typo fairies.[/edit]
« Last Edit: March 29, 2005, 11:41:42 PM by SeaShelly3 »
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Cho Chung

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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #20 on: April 02, 2005, 02:39:07 PM »

I always pronounced "git" with a hard 'g' -- as in 'gorilla.'  It never occurred to me to pronounce it otherwise. 

And Marold, I always thought of scones as baked and not fried.  Go figure.....!
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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #21 on: April 06, 2005, 08:24:00 AM »

Scones are definitely baked. Well, I'm fairly sure, anyway - all the scones I've come across have been baked. It never occurred to me that they could be fried. :p
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Marold

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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #22 on: April 07, 2005, 04:23:29 PM »

I believe it's a different recipe.  More like a rolls recipe then fried in oil.  You all should just come to Utah and I'll make them for you.
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Ping

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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #23 on: April 08, 2005, 05:08:56 PM »

Scone have always been fried on my watch, but that appears to be the aberration. It was rather a shock to get a scone at a Starbucks and find that it was ... not a scone. Not really, anyway. :)

And I pronounce git the same as Cho, with the gorilla g. :) That's what dictionary.com has it as, too. :)
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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #24 on: April 08, 2005, 05:56:24 PM »

If Dictionary.com has that, it must be right. Thanks Ping!

Every time I've come across a scone it's made on a griddle, at least that's the way my family makes them. I've never seen them fried in oil. Maybe it's the type of thing that can be cooked several ways and still be considered basically the same thing.

I've got another question: what's in shepherd's pie? They talk about eating them a lot in the books. Is it like a meat pie?
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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #25 on: April 08, 2005, 07:37:20 PM »

In the incarnations I've seen, it's ground beef, mashed potatoes, cheese, and maybe onions or such.
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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #26 on: April 08, 2005, 10:19:34 PM »

I've never had a scone, but we eat shepards pie a lot. The way we make it, it's layers of beef, green beans, gravy, mashed potatoes, and cheese, just like Ping said.

Hmm, I think "git" is going to have to be one of those words I mispronounce on purpose. I like "jit" better for some reason.

Has anyone ever read the British versions of the books? I've always wanted to read at least one of them and see the differences. Sometimes when they have things described as being "twenty feet tall" I think about what it must say in the British version, because I somehow doubt it says "6.45 meters tall". Similarly, they seem to say things like "It must be miles away," but they don't use miles in Britain, and "kilometers" is such a mouthful.
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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #27 on: April 10, 2005, 05:18:01 AM »

I don't think that was changed in either the US or British versions of the books. As far as I know, the motorways in Britain still use miles instead of km - on the signs it'll say something like: "Coventry    42m" and that can't be 42 metres away, can it?

Was it the Beauxbatons carriage that was described as being "20 feet tall"? Because if it was, I remember it being described to be "as big as a house" (although I haven't got the books with me).

Similarly, I would like to read the US versions of Harry Potter to see how many differences there are.
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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #28 on: May 08, 2005, 08:55:43 AM »

[/gl


Treacle. End of story.  ::)
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Cho Chung

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Re: British slang in HP books
« Reply #29 on: May 08, 2005, 09:08:49 AM »

Er, sorry, Pig.  I don't believe I heard the beginning of the story.  What do you mean by posting 'treacle'?
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