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A momentary fit of pique

In a momentary departure from travel tales, I have recently been reading Yes Man, by Danny Wallace. For my own tastes he’s a bit too fond of exclamation marks, and some of his jokes tip over into gag territory, but he has an excellent sense of the absurd, and I enjoyed it.

What grated slightly was that the edition I was reading was the one released to tie into the film with Jim Carrey, and it appears to have been Americanised. Cluedo has become Clue. My homeland is referred to ‘England’s West Yorkshire region’. The word ‘gotten’ appears several times. Perhaps this is just the dialect in which Wallace chooses to write, but it seems unlikely.

When a man in a Carson McCullers novel puts on his vest, I know he is not wandering around like Rab C Nesbitt, his nipples visible through string-weave, but is wearing a waistcoat. I understand that an ‘ass’ is often not four-legged. When an American writer refers to Boston, I realise that they are referring to Massachusetts, not Lincolnshire. Oddly I don’t ever recall reading a book that mentioned Jell-O, but if they did, I would not be confused.

Ok, silly examples, but similarly I absolutely refuse to believe that any American reader would read the phrase ‘the moment she had got her purse out…’ and have even the faintest trace of difficulty. She had done what? What with her purse out? Ooooooh, she had GOTTEN her purse out. Now it all makes sense.

Far more likely is that it is Warner Bros needlessly trying to stamp their mark of ownership on the book. Because this is what they do, and they probably have an entire department whose job it is to create such meaningless tasks for themselves. Sorry Mr Wallace, this book belongs to us now. And we’re going to change some tiny words. Because we can. Because if we didn’t then who would we be? Another fine illustration of the organ grinder dancing for the monkey.

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