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Difference between American and British Versions of Harry Potter Series - Harry Potter - Fanpop

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Harry Potter

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Harry Potter Guide Article

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Difference between American and British Versions of Harry Potter Series

Guide by tivier posted over a year ago Throughout the Harry Potter books, there are some variations between the Bloomsbury (British) and Scholastic (American) editions. Below the first section on "Philosopher's vs. Sorcerer's" is a section on other different terminologies used.

Philosopher's vs. Sorcerer's

When Scholastic was publishing Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in America, they decided to rename the book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. They claimed that the American and British uses of the word philosopher were a bit different, so therefore sorcerer was a more appropriate word. Any true Harry Potter fan, American or British, Australian or Hungarian, I'm sure will agree with MuggleMix when we say that decision should not have been made the reasons are:
1) J.K. Rowling said so, therefore it must be true. She says that if she was in a better position, she would have disagreed at the time.
2) It belittles Americans, making it seem as if they do not understand what the word "philosopher" means. Americans are smarter than that.
3) Sorcerer is unspecific. The stone could have belonged to anybody with magical powers in the book. But the British name defines who the stone belongs to and gives the name an entirely different meaning. Sorcerer is a very different word to philosopher.
4) The stone is referred to as the "Philosopher's Stone" throughout J.K. Rowling's original version, never the "Sorcerer's Stone", so why should the most central object of the book be labelled something completely different in the book title, even if its just being published in a different place?
5) How is the word "philosopher" in Britain different from the word "sorcerer" in America?
6) Philosopher's Stone is actually a historical object that people used to search for, while the Sorcerer's Stone has no factual background in real life

Ah well...

Other Terminology

There are some other minor changes that occurred in case Americans got confused. Some ones, such as turning "mum" into "mom" and "trainers" into "sneakers", J.K. Rowling refused to let happen. However, she allowed some changes to be made that, if they were not made, would befuddle the reader:

UK: Skip
US: Dumpster
UK: Minister for Magic
US: Minister of Magic
UK: Sybill Trelawney
US: Sibyll Trelawney
UK: Car park
US: Parking lot
UK: shan't
US: won't
UK: sherbet lemon
US: lemon drop
UK: dustbin
US: trashcan
UK: roundabout
US: carousel
UK: jumper
US: sweater
UK: comprehensive
US: public school
UK: holidaying
US: vacationing
UK: crisps
US: chips
UK: football
US: soccer
UK: lavatory seat
US: toilet seat
UK: barking
US: off his rocker
UK: tinned soup
US: canned soup
UK: wellington bookts
US: rubber boots
UK: tank top
US: sweater vest
UK: nutter
US: maniac
UK: cupboard
US: closet
UK: torch
US: flashlight
UK: letter boxes
US: mailboxes
UK: sack
US: fire
UK: matron
US: nurse
UK: biscuits
US: cookies
UK: while
US: whilst
UK: leaned
US: leant
UK: schedules
US: timetables
UK: walnut
US: satsuma
UK: Augustus
US: Algernon
UK: review
US: revise
UK: shagpile carpet
US: shag carpet
UK: humph
US: hmpf
UK: pants
US: briefs
UK: silver
US: silvery
UK: pinny
US: apron
UK: Pekinese
US: Pekingese
UK: afterwards
US: afterward

(this article was posted by the original writers and can also be found on link, link


Pages: 1 2 « Older  |  Newer » ltlsky489 said: I know that you didn't write the article but you might want to consider what you post because this article isn't all true. It states that the book never refers to the stone as the Sorcerer's Stone but if you go and look the book does indeed refer to the stone as such. Also I think that it is very nit picking to go through both versions to see the differences between them when it's logical to assume that the versions would have some differences in terms seeing that the two countries have two different versions of English. posted over a year ago. Courtneyhg said: I don't think anything should have been changed at all; it's a British book and it should stay that way - the Englishness is part of it's allure. I'm sure Americans wouldn't have been so confused that they didn't know what was going on if the "s" had been left on "afterwards", for example. posted over a year ago. skeloth said: A satsuma is nothing like a walnut... posted over a year ago. tivier said: Seriously, ltlsky489, I really did write that article myself. I am Frederick Jogles, co-founder of (see link). I made the article originally for my website and it can be found here: link. And about the bit about it never being referred to as the Sorceror's Stone, I'm sorry, I should have made that clearer. I meant that in J.K. Rowling's original version, it was never referred to as the Sorceror's Stone. I will change that. And yes, skeloth, a satsuma is NOTHING like a walnut :-) posted over a year ago. last edited over a year ago mattman said: I wish i'd read this sooner... i was about to ask if a satsuma is American for walnut but looks like i was beaten to it... twice.

I agree that the book shouldn't have been changed as well, i mean i'm English and i know what all the American terms mean so why should Americans not know what the English ones mean???

Also does the second part of the article still just refer to the 1st book or is that for the whole series? posted over a year ago. cechristie13 said: I'm an American and I understand the English (We call them British) words just fine. Now, an 10 yrld would probably have no idea what some of them meant. posted over a year ago. EatMyPonytail said: I have to say - these differences (most of them, at any rate) really, really bother me. American books published in other countries remain as they are, as they should, because they are American (this is based on what I've observed)! These are British books about British people, and even if some words are puzzling, it's only through media such as books that people become familiar with differences in speaking etc across the world. I'm sure a little culture wouldn't kill anyone, and nor would anyone have an actual problem with it. posted over a year ago. jtim2 said: While I agree that there was no need to change the title, as others have mentioned, we use a different type of english than the Brits do, and in our version, saying football instead of soccer conjures up a different image than was intended. The same with the british meanings for the terms 'tank top' to mean a sweater vest, 'roundabout' to mean a merry-go-round, and 'torch' to mean a flash light. And then there are some terms that just wouldn't make any sense to Americans, like 'skip', 'car park' and especially 'wellington bookts'. So while the title of a book shouldnt be changed unless absolutely necessary, the langage needs to changed just so that readers over here will understand the book. posted over a year ago. Lesha324 said: I am a Elementary Education Major, studying to specialize in juvenile literature. First, I would like to say I love Harry Potter and my family owns it in Russian, American English and right now I am reading/buying it in British English. I am studying abroad in Scotland for the semester. Yes we both speak English, but it is different. The sentence structure is slightly different and the words used are different. It gets confusing, even for me and I have lived here for 2 1/2 months now. Remember these books are written for Children, not adults. They don't know the words used in British English and are still learning how to read. Also, there is different spelling of words. Part of what makes these books great is it strengthens their ability to read complex book. I am enjoying reading it in the original version. I don't think it means Americans are stupid, things are just different here instead of America, there is nothing wrong with that. We are a different country, just like Spanish is different in the different countries it is spoken in. posted over a year ago. petlover2009 said: Not even in Mexico did they changed Philosopher for Sorcerer. But, Yes, I have to agree with Lesha324 the books are made for children. posted over a year ago. last edited over a year ago dpaisita97 said: I know why they changed it. If I was 10 an I saw a book called philosophers stone I wouldnt get it cause it seems boring. But sinse its sorcerors stone it sounds more fun and magical posted over a year ago. ColieAnne91 said: i understand why they changed it. posted over a year ago. bri-marie said: I can understand why they changed some of the words (I think you confused "timetables" and "schedules." We say "schedules" here in America and my American version of HP also says "schedules"). Skip and Dumpster; Football and Soccer; sack and fire; tank top and sweater vest, for example, are completely different things in Britain than in America.

But some of them are similar or are similar enough that there really wasn't a reason to change them. I mean, honestly, if the book had said "car park" instead of "parking lot" it wouldn't have taken much for us Americans to figure out what was being talked about. posted over a year ago. ColieAnne91 said: for little kids it might have been 2 confusing for them. posted over a year ago. Bramblestar1 said: I'm Canadian (practicly the same as American) and I never had any trouble reading this series...and I read it in British version. Now, I'm thirteen but little kids shouldn't be reading these books anyhow, exspecially in the last book where Ron says "friggin" a lot. posted over a year ago. Bramblestar1 said: Also, bri-Marie some of those things ARE the same. Football is soccor in America. And Sack IS like getting fired. When you get the "sack" your fired from your job. posted over a year ago. bri-marie said: Yes, I know England's football is our soccer. Not every American child knows that, though. A little kid isn't going to see the word "football" and think "soccer." They're going to see "football" and think "football." Same with sack. It's a slang term that's pretty much gone out of use. A little kid isn't necessarily going see "he was sacked" and go "Oh, he got fired." posted over a year ago. Charmedh2ogirl said: I'm English and I don't call satsumas walnuts. We also call a Sidewalk a Pavement. posted over a year ago. greekgirlA said: it dont mader! posted over a year ago. mdedrick said: I'm Canadian and here we use American terminology for most things. I read the first book when I was in grade 2 (and here we get the UK version) and I got it all. Should it really be dumbed down for people older than I was? Maybe I didn't know what trainers were, but it wouldn't take long to figure it out. posted over a year ago. kaboomgirl said: i use the word "nutter" all the time xD posted over a year ago. snusnu13 said: I hate when people say that "oh we speak a different English, we need a different version" it's a bunch of bull. I'm Australian and I can tell you we don't use some of the British words but yet we have the British additions, we don't use "trainers" or "wellington boots" but yet I got them. Also we call football soccer in Australia and that isn't changed. I think that some Americans are ignorant and not willing to learn about a different culture besides their own and need some of the British words changed.

If I ever get my novel published it will be Australian English, and if it gets published in America, it's keeping the Australian English, or it's not getting published there. Americans, if you want to know a word, google it! posted over a year ago. bri-marie said: You got "trainers" and "wellington boots" (as did the Americans) because JK refused to let those be changed. posted over a year ago. snusnu13 said: Because Australians aren't as ignorant as some Americans when it comes to culture, that's why they weren't changed. And as shown above in the article, like "wellington boots" are changed in the US version. If Americans books aren't changed, why should we change books for Americans? posted over a year ago. bri-marie said: If you'd read the article, it expressely states that some things JK REFUSED to let be changed. Mum and trainers were some of the things listed. Wellington boot was NOT changed in the American version -- that's an error.

It's an ignorant comment to say that books shouldn't be changed to accomodate other cultures different grammar, spelling, and word choices. We don't speak the same English you do. Why shouldn't the books be changed to accomodate our differences? It's not ignorance. Just like it's not ignorance when books in China are edited to accomodate the different versions of Chinese. There are differences. Get over it. posted over a year ago. bluecementicing said: how is a satsuma like a walnut??? posted over a year ago. tallyho62289 said: I agree that cultural differences in language could be taken into account in the narration only. However, when text is in quotation marks (i.e. a character is speaking) no changes should have been made. When you change a character's speech pattern, you affect how those characters are portrayed to the reader. Changing Seamus' 'Mam' to 'Mom', necessarily detracts from his Irish charm.

If the publishers were so worried about children not understanding some of the words, why not just include a UK to US dictionary at the front. One page dedicated to a list like the one above with the UK words in one column and the US words in another column would have eliminated any misunderstanding and introduced American children to some much needed foreign culture. posted over a year ago. MCF2000 said: whats a satsuma?? posted over a year ago. percyjrulez said: they should at least should have made it the Alchemist's Stone because Nicholas Flemel is both a philospher and and alchemist. The Canadian version has both. posted over a year ago. Brit_Girl89 said: OK, everyone knows that Americans are the most ignorant and dumbest people in the world, but it is for reasons like this! Changing little words in the Harry Potter books, I realize that there are certain words that we say that the Americans do not, but that is also true of countries like Canada and Australia and as previously stated here the books weren't changed for them and they seemed to cope just fine! I know that the early books are for young children and yes a lot of American children might not understand certain words, but they could either ask their parents, google it or just figure it out. Like "car park" hmm lets think...could a car park possibly be somewhere we we PARK CARS..? See its not hard is it, I think if other English speaking countries can work them out so can they, it is this attitude that Americans have that they are apart form everyone else and things should be specially changed for them, like someone else said American books would never be changed for the English versions so why do we need to change it for them? Just get over yourselves and learn about different cultures. Or if it is really too difficult and they couldn't possibly figure it out then they should just have done exactly what Tallyho62289 suggested and put a little UK to US dictionary in the front of the books. posted over a year ago. bri-marie said: Could you be any more ignorant and rude? It's been pointed out (a few times) that some of those words that were supposedly changed weren't (Mam and Mom stayed the same, for example). It's also been pointed out (by Americans, no less) that some of those changes were unnecessary.

The American people didn't chose to have Harry Potter changed around. The publishing company decided that all on their own, with no input from anyone. I find it funny that people call us ignorant when they are the ones blatantly ignoring anything Americans are saying about it. posted over a year ago. sgeg180 said: I don't think that the American version should have been changed at all especially if our books are not changed for other cultures.
However Brit Girl I think it is absolutely ridiculous to bash on America as a whole. Don't get me wrong we have our idots but who doesn't. I know there are ignorant and dumb people there too. America as well as many places in the world have a mix of cultures. So how about your ignorant self grows up and embraces some American culture. Maybe then you will see we are not all dumb patriotic narcissists who are full of themselves. Not one person I know has this attitude that we are "apart form everyone else and things should be specially changed for them" posted over a year ago. Brit_Girl89 said: For you information sgeg180 I have embraced American culture, I have family there and have been going there ever since I was a baby and I also spent a year studying there so I think I know about American culture. I am not saying every single American has that attitude. But as a nation America tends to be very ignorant as they don't really know anything that goes on outside their country, and almost all of the Americans I met while living there agreed that they have a very limited view of the world. posted over a year ago. bri-marie said: You know, you keep using the word 'ignorant' to explain why certain things were changed. I do not think the word mean what you think it means.

Ignorant: adjective.
Lacking knowledge or awareness in general; uneducated or unsophisticated.

The editors at Bloomsbury deciding to change words in Harry Potter does not make the entire (or even a large part) of Americans ignorant. It does not make Americans unaware, uneducated, or unsophisticated. All it means is that the editors at Bloomsbury underestimated American children. But the editors at Bloomsbury do not make up any significant percent of Americans, so it's beyond ridiculous to denounce America (or a large part of it) for what they chose to do. posted over a year ago. snusnu13 said: Bloomsbury didn't even publish the American version, it was Scholastic that did! On the whole, I agree with Brit-girl but she is going overboard with the America bashing.

She is right, as a whole America is a very ignorant nation. Y'know I heard somewhere that 55% of stuff on our Australian TV stations is from Australia. Bit over half. In America, 90% of their stuff on TV is from America, that is ignorant. However the American people as a whole didn't choose this, Americans are brainwashed in thinking that they are the kings of the world. posted over a year ago. sgeg180 said: So what your driving at Brit girl is that Americans are not educated on certain areas of their lives namely the rest of the world. We have our world news however it is an American station and I know that not everything reported on the news is true. We need to sort out the the truth from the crap and have to think for ourselves. Best off looking on the internet. So yes i can agree that for the most part we are ignorant in that sense again I'm not a Patriot I'm a realist. And snusnu yes we are ignorant in that same sense. You too have your American Bashing saying we think we are kings of the world. By no means do I or anyone I know feel like we are kings. Not that I have not met people who have thoughts of something like that. There are a number of hicks rednecks and blatantly dumb people here who may say so but I've got to say the number of levelheaded people strongly outweigh them. I've heard people say that this is the "American attitude" this and the fact that we feel we are entitled to everything. Typically only some of the very rich are the pompous snobs that act like they are entitled. posted over a year ago. bri-marie said: ^^I've met more Americans who want out of this country, or who think America is pretty bad off, than I have Americans who think America is the greatest. The ratio is something like 10:1. And, as sgeg said, it's generally the hicks and extremely rich who think America is the greatest. (Which has nothing to do with America itself, but more to do with the fact that they're generally the most privileged.)

The whole "America is brainwashed and think they are the absolute best" is a stereotype. If you believe that, then I don't think you have any room to call anyone else ignorant.

Further more, the amount of foreign television that comes in depends on what cable package a person has. A the old-style basic cable package hardly gets any shows at all -- American or otherwise. The newer-style basic package gets most American shows and a few shows from the UK (depending on what channel picks up the show). The old-style best cable gets a ton of shows -- from Mexico, the UK, and America. The newer-style best cable package can get even more. It's about money, not ignorance. posted over a year ago. ScarlettEmber said: I'm from Malaysia (a country in South-East Asia), and I love Harry Potter. Personally, I think that you shouldn't even be fighting about this. No, I don't know all about both your countries, but why don't you guys just buy the version of the book that you want, and be done with it? The American version is made so that children can understand it better, right? Well, I doubt any of you are children, so just get over it.

".. we are only strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided."

Get over it. Harry Potter is one the most amazing thing ever, so don't fight about it. It's like getting mad at a book for being translated to French, so that French people can understand it better.

But it's pretty rude to say Americans, or American in the whole, is ignorant. You wouldn't like it if someone called you and/or your country ignorant. posted over a year ago. gry said: I agree with ScalettEmber. don't fight. I'm from Indonesia and I find both versions just fine. I know it's kind of annoying when they change words and stuff and make the characters sound different or make the story seem different, but let people read what they want! yes, I know some Americans think that America is the best, but why shouldn't they be proud of their own country? it's national pride! whatever anyone wants to read is their choice. it's not for us to decide. people aren't our marionettes and we can't control them into reading the version that we want them to. get over it. you don't have to read the American version if you don't want to. posted over a year ago. last edited over a year ago siriusblack4eva said: US versions have better illustrations. Don't take offense, cause I'm from the UK. Harry looks like the emote to the right. posted over a year ago. SamanthaT said: Personaly, I don't think that the words should have been changed, it was written as it was written and it should have stayed that way! I read plenty of American books, House of Night etc. and they keep the American spelling/word and I understand perfectly!! However, why people are bringing ignorance into it is beyond me... changing to suit the language has nothing to do with how stupid a country is (not that America as a country is ignorant anyway!!!). posted over a year ago. Charmedh2ogirl said: I'm from the UK and I say won't instead of shan't, toilet seat instead of lavatory seat, I say both biscuits and cookies. Did you know that in Australia they call Wellington Boots Gum Boots? posted over a year ago. kroxs said: i think that saying that Americans think that they are the kings of the world is wrong. i'm sure you have pride in your country and so do we, but that doesn't mean we think we are better than anyone else. only people who are over privileged think that they should be. you dont see us bashing your country
and i think its fine that they changed the words i dont see a problem so what that they changed some stuff (some of it unnecessarily) it really isnt that important posted over a year ago. Konako_Akari said: Personally I agree the majority of Americans are dumb. however some of the ways you are saying it are really offensive... Brit_Girl89 especially. Some of the things could have been left but a lot of them wre right to have been changed. I didn't know some of them. Does that make me dumb? I don't think so considering I'm most like Hermione.

posted over a year ago. Konako_Akari said: Worthwhile changes

US: Dumpster
US: Parking lot
US: lemon drop
US: carousel
US: sweater
US: public school
US: vacationing
US: chips
US: soccer
US: toilet seat
US: canned soup
US: rubber boots
US: sweater vest
US: closet
US: flashlight
US: nurse
US: cookies
US: shag carpet
US: hmpf
US: apron
posted over a year ago. AnnieLou said: I don't think that they should have changed the words at all. It's a British book about British people so why would they use American English? And are American's really so stupid that they'd be confused by an 's' on the end of afterwards? I think that the publisher of these books underestimated people's intelligence, we have to work out what the American's are talking about when we watch their films and read their books and we all manage okay, why shouldn't the Americans? posted over a year ago. I-Love-Candy said: @snusnu13: You're making it sound like all the Americans were too lazy and said: "Heck, we don't care about culture, we want it OUR way." But, really, it was decided for us. The company, Scholastic, must've had some reason or another for it (most likely the thought that it was a children's book and wouldn't want to cause widespread confusion).

What you're saying is that Americans are ignorant and don't want to learn new phrases or words. That is not true. I know quite a few people--including myself--who enjoy knowing other culture's phrases and words. We are not "ignorant" for having a book with a few translations.

I know that if I were nine years old and read Harry Potter I wouldn't have a clue what a "roundabout" or "trainers" were, because we were never taught that.

When I grew older I found to open my mind a bit more and research these things. There isn't a very big way to understand what words are. And when someone's nine they don't automatically know to "google" words. I know I'd probably ask my parents or look in a dictionary, and both of those probably wouldn't help.

I'm just trying to say that there are justified reasons, even if some could've been understood and not changed. I see your reasoning and understand it, but I'm thinking in the younger child's point of view. If I were that younger child I probably would be utterly confused and give up on the book. J.K. Rowling did a good compromise; it lets the younger children to read.

I probably want to collect the British version eventually, but for now I'm fine with the American version. It's not that big of a deal, really. It's still the same book. The meaning's the same.

So what's the point of calling countries "ignorant" when you can just enjoy the story? After all, I'm sure Jo made the series FOR all of us, not so we could be controversial over it, right?

@AnnieLou: A lot of people act like it's the Americans' fault. It's just Scholastic's, if anyone. It's not like they had a nationwide vote. It was just a decision. J.K.R. AGREED to it. And even if she does regret it it's done. It's not for the "stupid intelligence" of America. It's a children's book. As I said above. It's for CHILDREN. If you were a younger child would you know what it meant? Unless I'm considered "stupid" I wouldn't know. I'd probably ask someone, who also wouldn't know.

In school you don't learn those things. It'd be difficult for a kid, I'm sure. Truthfully, I am happy they made some changes. Not that I'd NOT read it if there wasn't any changes, but it enables the younger children to enjoy it. Because that's what Harry Potter is for, right? For us to enjoy

@Konako_Akari/Brit_Girl89: Really? Saying Americans are dumb? That's so stereotypical. There are just as much dumb people in America as there are in other countries. America ISN'T dumb. Really, we have had our fair share of geniuses. Saying a country is dumb isn't accurate. There are millions, sometimes billions of people in countries. I don't believe someone is truly DUMB unless they don't try. If you have the nerve to call someone dumb you should rethink yourself. Do you know that person? They might have a brain disease. They might try their hardest in school but just can't seemed to understand Math or something. Saying America is dumb is the equivalent to saying Australia, or the Great Britain are is dumb (which it isn't.) Everywhere, I'm sure, has the not-so-smart people, but just because America got their own book copy doesn't mean it's DUMB. Jeez, how mature are we here if we are resulting to insulting countries on a harmless article.

I'm going to THANK the author for this information, instead of saying how "stupid" America is for getting their own copy of one of the best series in the world.

[So why are we arguing over spellings and phrases? Shouldn't we just enjoy the series and argue about who missed (character name) more good-naturedly?]

I am not trying to "fight" in this battle, but show what I believe. I am American and know SOME of the changes weren't necessary, but other's were. I know that I wouldn't understand what a jumper was at eight, nine or ten. I'd be like "Jumper? A trampoline?" Because jumper doesn't sound remotely like "sweater." Sure, context clues could help, but the changes were sometimes needed. However, this doesn't make America stupid. It just gives us understanding of the series.

So, as an American, not a "proud one is brainwashed to think we are the King of the World", thank you very much, I say that you shouldn't DARE to insult a country. I'm not going around insulting ANY country. You shouldn't insult countries or ethnicities. Embrace them, or ignore them. But DON'T insult them if you have never lived there for a period of ten years. Because you don't really know that country until then, do you?

People shouldn't judge countries, especially on something so trivial as BOOK CHANGES. Really? It's like this, if someone from Britain visited America no one would say: You are ignorant for saying 'trainers' instead of 'sneakers' (or vice versa). That wouldn't happen in either country. So why are we arguing about it in a BOOK? posted over a year ago. last edited over a year ago Magmashift said: What the bludger is a satsuma? posted over a year ago. bri-marie said: In America, it's a fruit bearing tree (and a type of snail, apparently). In the UK, it's a walnut. posted over a year ago. Draconisstar said: In the UK and Ireland a satsuma is a small, easy-peeling citrus fruit, much like a mandarin orange. I have never, in any part of the world, heard a walnut being referred to as a satsuma. And I have no idea why 'walnut' would be changed to 'satsuma' in the US version. California is full of walnut groves so it's not as if Americans don't know what they are.

Having been born and brought up in Ireland and the UK and having lived in the US with my American husband for a number of years, I cannot understand the necessity for changing books from one version of English to another. As a child I read all the Little House books, Anne of Green Gables, Narnia, Famous Five, Nancy Drew and many more - all books from different English-speaking cultures. If I didn't understand a word I would figure it out, ask a parent or teacher, or look it up.

It's so much easier for children to research things these days. A couple of clicks and they have a world of knowledge at their fingertips. Shouldn't we be educating them about cultural differences and encouraging them to find things out for themselves?

It is wrong to brand an entire nation as ignorant, based on changing words in a book, or other forms of generalisation. However, I believe that it's also wrong to underestimate the intelligence and understanding of children, and to limit their learning by restricting their reading only to that of their local community or country. Let them learn through reading, so that they can go out into the world and interact with people from other cultures and countries, without feeling ignorant or uneducated. Learning about other cultures is an enriching and enhancing experience. The easiest and most enjoyable way for children to begin this cultural education, before they're old enough to put a rucksack on their backs and see the world for themselves, is through the magical power of literature. Let's not narrow their horizons. posted over a year ago. Hermione7 said: I-love-candy thank for saying what should have been said in the first also bri- marie i didn't see this until like 2 or 3 days ago and i forgot my password until now. posted over a year ago. bri-marie said: O-kay...? posted over a year ago. clumsyballerina said: We can handle shan't, and Football, Tank top, no but still. posted over a year ago. sanderson210 said: I REALLY don't understand why people spend so much time in meaningless debates. No one can change the way this book was published. If it really seemed so important (at the time of publication) maybe some of you could have written to company then. As it stands, I know that I can honestly say not one person out of the hundred plus I know who have read this series and watched the movies, attend the premiers decked out in costumes, had the themed birthday parties, bought HP paraphernalia, gone to the Harry events at schools, libraries, etc..NO ONE ever even so much as thought of the fact that the language had been altered. And I can apply this to people from the age range of 6 to 60+. Not one of these Americans believed that they had deserved to have this amazing fantasy world altered for their benefit. We all just enjoyed it, revelled in it, and applauded it. Of course we knew, and I explained to my children, that there were differences in our countries' lifestyles. This led to things like my daughter doing a report on British culture. I have to say that I believe most people, regardless of their country of origin, were more interested in the magic and power of these books than they were in the simple language nuances. Seriously. Don't take a phenomenon so beloved by a WORLD, and pick it apart over something that honestly doesn't apply here, at all. I will say however, that in the interest of free speech, feel free to bash or hate on whatever pleases you. I just can't see that this particular argument belongs here in the world of Harry. Let J.K Rowling enjoy her creation of something that unified people for what it truly was, magic, not what this forum is turning it into. posted over a year ago. princessforlife said: I think they should have kept the British version. As an American, I think the fact that they changed a lot of the words insults my intelligence. I'm pretty sure that I know a "nutter" means a maniac, and if I didn't know a word or two, I could easily look it up. The title change also infuriates me. Really? Like I don't know what a Philosopher is? posted over a year ago. RTRGirl said: @snusnu13, @Brit_Girl89:
Saying that all Americans are ignorant is very ironic when in fact it makes yourself an ignorant, stereotyping moron. Saying that is about the dumbest thing I've ever heard. I have heard people say it before and I'm sure this won't be the last time either. It's like claiming that all Americans are black or blonde headed or act like the people from "Jersey Shore"; you know it's not true and yet you said it anyway. Would you feel very good if I said that about your country? No, you wouldn't. While I do agree that we have our share of ignorance and stupidity in this country, you can't deny that your country doesn't have their fair share as well and you shouldn't generalize it by saying that we all are! That is what turns it back around on you and makes you seem ignorant. I, for one, am far from ignorant but would never claim to know everything about every culture in this world. That is why people read books and travel, to learn! When you say we, Americans, are ignorant what you are actually saying is that we are too dumb to know what some words mean that we have never heard or seen before or that mean something completely different from what I have always known. I am not dumb and am in fact currently getting my SECOND undergraduate degree in Psychology. So saying that "all Americans are ignorant" really hurts. And, if I felt I was the "King" (or in my case, Queen) of my country why would I go back to college? By what you have claimed, I should feel entitled and allow arrogance to fill me up and then go throw a tantrum like those idiots for "Occupy Wall Street"!! It sounds more like you are the arrogant ones. The "Kings" and "Queens" for thinking that your country is far more superior to any other.

Another thing, some of you claim that kids can just "Google" the words that don't make sense to them. Well, Harry Potter, book 1, was released in the U.S. September 1, 1998 and the next two released within the next year, 1999. Google was founded on September 4, 1998, so it stands to reason that it wasn't a widely known website at that time and that the decision to change some words was made probably months before then as well. (On a side note, yes, I Googled all this information. See how smart and not ignorant I am!!!) Okay, back on track now; the "World Wide Web" was still relatively new at that time and not available to everyone, so most wouldn't have known how to go about looking words up on the internet. I also agree that some of the changes were not necessary but I am in college and wouldn't have had the slightest idea what a "pinny" or a "comprehensive" is! Here, for example, when we say "comprehensive" in school, we're talking about taking a test that includes everything that has been taught for the entire semester. Not a school in general. Another example, here a "jumper" means basically an outfit where the pants/skirt is connected to the top or, in another context, someone who is planning to jump from a tall structure with the intent on killing themselves, and a "dustbin" means exactly that, something you sweep dirt and dust into. Also, if you do decide to ever grace our country with your presence and are a smoker, watch what you say if you ask someone for a cigarette as I know Britain's slang for cigarette is "fag". Here, in America, that is a derogatory word for "gay" or "homosexual". We may not understand some of your words but you can't unknowingly claim that you understand all of ours! Slang included. Now a days though, you are correct, kids would probably know how to find out what a word means through the internet. However, it's already been done and there is nothing anyone can do about it. And as someone already stated, Americans did not have a nation wide vote on whether or not to change the words in a children's book, it was a few people in a publishing company AND JK Rowling who decided this. Everyone has words in their country that mean something completely different in another, so why not accommodate for those cultural differences? Would it have stopped JK's books from selling? Probably not but it was done so that we would understand what was being said. That doesn't mean we are dumb! Wouldn't you expect to read a book by a Chinese, French, Italian, etc. author in words you understand? I bet you would but that doesn't make you ignorant to their culture. All that means is that you don't speak their language or know about their culture and you want to understand the book. So put on your big kid panties and get over it!! There are bigger things in this world to worry about than some word changes in a children's book.


Proud (not ignorant) American posted over a year ago. last edited over a year ago greekgirlA said: ok just to say:
UK: tank top
US: sweater vest

should be the opisit because we call tank tops tank tops! posted over a year ago. bri-marie said: ^Yeah. A lot of these are mixed up or just plain wrong. My American HP book says 'walnut' not 'satsuma' and I'm pretty sure it says 'Sybill', not 'Sibill.' posted over a year ago. mrs_j_ackles said: I find some comments EXTREMELY rude. Why would you generalize Americans and say that we are all ignorant and dumb. WE'RE NOT ALL LIKE THAT. Sorry about the caps-lock there, but you are all being extremely frustrating. I'm an American, I'm NOT ignorant, and I'm NOT stupid. It obviously was NOT America's choice for the books to be changed, it was the publishing companies. Sure, some people can be ignorant, but those people are found in ALL COUNTRIES. So don't just single out us Americans because the Harry Potter books had to be changed. I love Harry Potter, and if they hadn't changed the words at all, it wouldn't have been a big deal. BUT, there are also words written on the list that I would not have understood, although I did understand the majority. So, next time someone says something nasty about Americans, like we are ignorant, just the fact that YOU called us ignorant, means that YOU are ALSO IGNORANT. posted over a year ago. meeka89 said: I want to buy an 11 year old Australian boy the harry potter series, will it matter if its a UK or American Edition?
posted over a year ago. I-Love-Candy said: I think either way is fine, but depending on where you live they will probably only have one version (because that/those country(ies) are closest to you): So there is probably not much of a choice unless you are ordering online. posted over a year ago. weasleylover07 said: I completely understand why she let them change those things. imagine arthur weasly wearing a "tank top" hahahahahahahhaha!!! :) posted over a year ago. SomeCallMeTim said: Wow. This really shows the stupidity of the average American. WHAT IS A LETTER BOX?? WHAT COULD IT POSSIBLY BE???

Some of those are understandable though. Like "torch". I already knew that one, though ^^ from Chronicles of Narnia. C.S. LEWIS WOULD NEVER LET THE CHANGEY PEOPLE CHANGE HIS WORK!

But why would they change walnut to satsuma? Can we not handle the idea of a walnut? But... it could get stuck in Mr. Weasley's teeth! NOOOOOOOOO.

I should really read HP and the Philosopher's Stone (As opposed to the Sorceror's Stone). It's just not in the libraries or anything here... we Americans are so deprived. posted over a year ago. bri-marie said: ...You are aware that a sastuma and a walnut aren't even close to the same thing, yes? So, maybe, the change was a necessary change to appropriately convey the idea J.K was trying to get across.

You can also find PS really, really easily. There's this nifty invention called the internet. You can use it to find things. Like... stores. That sell books. posted over a year ago. tetoforever said: -blinks- I'm American, and I could probably visit the U. K. and pass for a native. Yet, I see why Scholastic changed it. As mentioned in the comments before, these are children's books, and therefore meant to be read by/to children. I believe, and this is just me, that if you were to read the British version to an American child, 9/10 times you'd be stopped every few paragraphs with a "What does that mean?" I'm not bashing the British version, I'd really like to read it actually, I'm just explaining my view on why Scholastic changed some of the words. posted over a year ago. ArcticWolf said: As an American who has the American copies of the Harry Potter series, I need to make this clear: Not all the changes on this article are actually in my version of the Harry Potter books. Also, as the series progressed, they stopped "translating" a lot of the words (at first they said soccer, but later on in the series they used the term football, and I remember shoes/sneakers being changed to trainers, for example). I also think it's really stupid that some people are insulting Americans over something we had no control over. It actually really irritates me because we really do live in our little world over here. Unfortunately, not many people I know here seems to want to change that, either. -_- IMO, that's very unfair to people who want to learn more about other countries.

No offense, but what kind of Harry Potter fan insults other Harry Potter fans simply because of what country they came from? That's not even what the article is about. posted over a year ago. last edited over a year ago BellatrixLOVER1 said: well um im American and i dont really like calling it the Philosopher's Stone i grew up with Sorcerer's Stone and im sticking to it i just loathe calling it the Philosopher' Stone even though its the origial sorry to all u ppl that prefer to call it the PS its my opinion and not everything in the article is true posted over a year ago. sparkgirl9450 said: good changes (American's point of view)
Public School
Sweater Vest
Thats just what we always call them I would have had no clue what a comprehensive was. A tank top is completely different from a sweater vest.
Philospher vs. Sorcerer also worth while. If I saw philosipher on the cover i probably wouldn't have picked it up. To us one is kind of like a boring old teacher. A sorcerer is when i imagine the wands and such. posted over a year ago. sparkgirl9450 said: Oh and BTW I never heard of the word sustuma before today posted over a year ago. ishallbeahunter said: IKR!!! (I Know Right!) But some of these comments I took a lot of offense to. Seriously! We cannot control what the companies print. And a tank top for us is completely different than a sweater vest. A sweater vest is part of my school uniform. A tank top is what I wear to sleep or under another shirt. 2 totally different things. Anyway..... posted over a year ago. last edited over a year ago Elzzah said: I am Norwegian, but I read the English version of the Philisopher's Stone when I was nine years old. Obviously I was unfamiliar with some of the words, but I was perfectly capable of making out the meaning of it. If I could do it, I am certain an American child could do it as well. There is really no point in changing words; it might even deprive the book of some of its British charm. posted over a year ago. cedonia6 said: I'm not being funny, but when the book is changed to say... German, the words will be in German. Like it or not, American English is a different language to British English. No matter how similar they are. I don't see how making the books harder to understand would actually benefit anyone. I'm British, and I can't see any reason that people should not be allowed to read the story in their own language. That's just my opinion, I am entitled to it. Please don't be rude if you disagree, that's just the way I see things. posted over a year ago. TheShinkette said: For those of you that think they only dumb down publications for Americans, read this:
Differences in the UK and US Versions of Four Harry Potter Books
FAST US-1 Introduction to American English (Hopkins)
Department of Translation Studies, University of Tampere, Finland

Lexical differences between British and American English are numerous enough that many mass-market books, especially those meant for younger readers, are revised before publication in the 'other' market. **While there is more conversion of American publications into British editions** (see Differences Between British and American English in Two Versions of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby for one example), due to the substantially larger U.S. publication production, there is conversion from British to American as well, due to the size and attractiveness of the U.S. consumer market.

You can view this at link

Sounds like some of you may have been a little out of line don't you think? Apparently there are more books converted from American to UK. Imagine that...

That said, let me point out (to those who generalize the whole of America) that we "dumb" Americans just happen to be interested in the SAME series as you. Wow, ponder that for a moment. What does that say about you? In fact, we liked the way whe wrote so much that Universal Studios dedicated a whole section of their amusement park to HP (note my profile pic of their version of Hogwarts).

I personally loved how she developed the alternate universe, a new sport, candy etc. I think she is a fantastic writer even if I question her own character. I was going to purchase the UK's PS but I am a little reluctant now to put any more money in Rowlings pocket since I have read and seen interviews of her attitude towards Americans. It's really taking self control on my part since my child and I both love the series.
posted over a year ago. 10Aly98 said: i'm 13 yrs old and an American and i agree that they shouldnt have changed the words.. if you cant understand it you could at least look it up on the internet... posted over a year ago. stephylynn3467 said: When I first read this book as a 9 year old I wouldn't have understood philosopher's stone. I didn't know the history then and afterall this book is meant for children. Us Americans use a different type of English and our version makes sense to us. I actually wish they would have changed mum because it confused the crap out of my 9-year old past self the first few times I read it. I'm not saying the American version is better, but it makes sense to American children (the audience) who would read tank top and think of a beater and honestly that conjures up a hilarious image. But America is not a stupid country, however the people that are always in the media ARE stupid (or portrayed as stupid.) There are plenty of intelligent Americans. posted over a year ago. stephylynn3467 said: To those annoyed by the "afterwards" v. "afterward" I would like to point out that in America the 's' on the end is incorrect grammar and therefore would teach children incorrect grammar and since the I'm sure the children reading the American version are probably American and plan to continue to live in America we shouldn't teach them wrong American-English grammar. posted over a year ago. nagini10 said: i agree with eatmyponytail they are written how j.k rowling wants them nd they should stay that way! any1 who disagrees??? posted over a year ago. nagini10 said: spark girl i cant belive you have never heard of a satsuma (it is a small orange i think) posted over a year ago. nagini10 said: actually lesha the books are made for children AND adults as it says on the back of one of the books posted over a year ago. apleah said: Seriously? Why is everyone hating on Americans so much? We did not congregate together and demand that scholastic release an American version. Honestly though I'm glad that they did. I love learning about other cultures and I love google but in 1998 when the first book came out how plausible is it that 8 and 9 year old kids were going to hop on the computer and figure out how to google some of these words? I doubt any country would expect that in '98. In my opinion I think the idea was to get children to read, because reading improves grammar and vocabulary. Children reading a book that would be considered in the US as incorrect english or incorrect vocabulary wouldn't of helped anything. It had nothing to do with the American children not having the ability to be "cultured." In fact I think that the books did give American children quite a bit of culture with the content in itself. I think scholastic made the right decision at the time. However, in present times I think that the British versions would be fine. The culture of the world has changed a great deal from 1998 and we are in a very internet based world. At the very least adding a quick US->British dictionary in the book would suffice. In fact now that I am older I can't wait to read the British versions! posted over a year ago. SUNThingy said: I don't see what the point was in changing any of that stuff, I personally believe its an insult not only to the series but to the writer. posted over a year ago. loolymadness said: I don't mean to be biased, but it's a British book and when I read American (or any other culture for that matter) it makes it seem like I'm really THERE if it has the same language as the country. When I first read an American book, I didn't even notice the differences. If Harry Potter were real, he'd say "trainers", anyway. posted over a year ago. DramaQueen1020 said: Why should American publishers make the text slightly different? I mean I'm American (sigh I know, pity) and it is good that you put this reference here because I've always wanted to live in England and this UK to US dictionary (of sorts) could be really useful. By the way, I'm not sure how many people care, but American spelling is "theater" while British spelling is "theatre". Personally I like to spell it the British way. It seems more natural to spell it that way. I also know already what some British terms mean so I got confused sometimes with the substituted American ones. P.S. I agree with SUNThingy. posted over a year ago. last edited over a year ago alexisn10 said: Although I wish they kept it in the original text, I understand why they had to change it. I didn't read the books until last November (I was [and still am] 16) so if someone handed me a British version of the book then I'd completely understand it seeing that I've read British/old fashioned text books for school. However, handing me that book when I was 10 would confuse me. I would understand things like "pavement" instead of sidewalk or "biscuits" instead if "cookies". But things like "skip" instead of dumpster would confuse me even today. They could have kept things that we could easily understand. posted over a year ago. MacB said: I find it appalling that the publishing industry is preventing our children from having a rich linguistic experience. Didn't we all read British books as children and love them: Through the Looking-Glass, Peter Pan, The Hobbit, The Borrowers, not to mention the books of C. S. Lewis, Charles Dickens and Kipling. Nobody dumbed them down for us, and that is how we became literate. Perhaps it is also how we learned that there is world beyond America's shores where people live lives and have views that are different but just as legitimate as our own, something that many Americans seem to have forgotten. If American children are no longer capable of guessing the meaning of words from their context and, failing that, looking them up in a dictionary, then someone will be writing a book called "The Rise and Fall of American Democracy" sooner, rather than later. What I fear is that they are being prevented from doing what they are capable of doing by well-meaning proponents of the "laziness-for-all" culture. This should be prevented at all costs! posted over a year ago. CalebUK said: I think people (especially the Brits) really need to relax. I'm British, love the books and think it's a shame that the book and movie were changed for the American audience as it is set in England so English meanings are relevant. However, to call Americans ignorant and dumb is ridiculous. It was the publisher who decided on the changes not the American public. Reading through these comments, I feel ashamed to call myself British. Country bashing is just a form of ignorance! Grow up... It's a great book but it is only that... a book! posted over a year ago. camib6 said: I understand the majority of those British words. And since WHEN was a walnut called a timetable here in the US? We call it a walnut. (At least in Missouri we do.)
posted over a year ago. camib6 said: And THANK YOU CelebUK! You're AMAZING!
posted over a year ago. camib6 said: Crud. Now I feel stupid. Wrong word. I mean satsuma. Anyway, I've NEVER heard it been called a satsuma.
posted over a year ago. bri-marie said: That's because walnuts aren't satsumas. Satsumas are a type of fruit. posted over a year ago. DramaQueen1020 said: Oh, cool! Do they taste good? posted over a year ago. camib6 said: Oh...Well, honestly, I've never eaten a satsuma. Or, needless to say, heard of one. posted over a year ago. last edited over a year ago camib6 said: I just looked up a satsuma on Google Images, and it's just a small orange. HOW is that a walnut?! posted over a year ago. CalebUK said: Cheers camib6! Just for the record, I love satsumas. Walnuts too... posted over a year ago. bri-marie said: @Drama: I don't know. I've never tried one.

@cambi: It's not. As I said on an earlier post, J.K. herself made changes in the books in the different versions, and gave the okay for things to be changed. I think satsuma was changed because it's smaller, and the snitch is supposed to be hard to catch. Saying "something roughly the size of an orange is hard to catch" doesn't make sense, so it got changed. posted over a year ago. MissRichTeaa said: I don't believe that all Americans are ignorant, just the people at the top of everything. I'm an avid reader but I've never seen or read an American book that has been changed to a British version. I think that it should not have been changed at all, I understand all of the American words so Americans should understand British words. Even if you're young you could just ask your parents or google it. It makes Americans look stupid, when they're not. The people at the top in America really need to listen the people - take gay marriage for example. posted over a year ago. Conor1028 said: Wow i made an account just to comment and lied, a lot for info, okay adults' underestimate american children you think I'm an idiot? I know the difference between american and british idioms/idiocy's and sayings and for gods sakes im 11 and have read all 7 harry potters and fully understand them, and i started reading harry potter in 3rd grade and could have finished by 4th if not for other books and favorites coming out and harry potter still being a bit expensive and the 7th one not coming out for a while posted over a year ago. Hermione12353 said: It Will always be Philosopher's Stone to me so I dont care what anyone else calls it posted over a year ago. zar_far11 said: I was looking at where it showed the US/UK differences, but I live in America, but my copy has all the British words in there! posted over a year ago. Ajaxranstone said: Alright everyone, its we've heard sound reasoning and daft babble here, but its time to face the facts.
Editors LOVE to change wording on books. its their bloody JOBS for crying out loud. lol if they don't find something to change, they go bankrupt. Seriously. Not kidding. Look at JRR tolkien's works, EG elves to elfs; dwarves to dwarfs. not to mention C.S. Lewis, Christpher paolili, (however you spell it). Against popular belief, it was NOT changed because certain clart headed people believe Americans are stupid, but merely it triedto fit into USA culture in order to raise popularity. As for this being a book for children, "we do not grow if we have our world shaped to us, but by shaping ourselves to the challenges of the universe" posted over a year ago. « Older  1 2 Newer » Add Your Comment

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