27 July 2010

Golly gosh, Enid Blyton's Famous Five to undergo lashings of editing

The Guardian reported that Enid Blyton's Famous Five series of children's books are to undergo a revision to modernise its language. Extract

Farewell to the awful swotters, dirty tinkers and jolly japes: Enid Blyton's language is being dragged out of the 1940s by her publisher in an attempt to give her books greater appeal for today's children.

Starting next month with 10 Famous Five novels, Hodder is "sensitively and carefully" revising Blyton's text after research with children and parents showed that the author's old-fashioned language and dated expressions were preventing young readers from enjoying the stories. The narrative of the novels will remain the same, but expressions such as "mercy me!" have been changed to "oh no!", "fellow" to "old man" and "it's all very peculiar" to "it's all very strange".

The intention, said Hodder, is to make the text "timeless" rather than 21st century, with no modern slang – or references to mobile phones – introduced.

"The actual stories remain the same – there's no change to the plot whatsoever," said Anne McNeil, publishing director of Hodder Children's Books. "Children who read [the Famous Five books] need to be able to easily understand the characterisations and easily to get into the plots. If the text is revised [they're] more likely to be able to engage with them."

Other changes include "housemistress" becoming "teacher", "awful swotter" becoming "bookworm", "mother and father" becoming "mum and dad", "school tunic" becoming "uniform" and Dick's comment that "she must be jolly lonely all by herself" being changed to "she must get lonely all by herself".

Read more.

Oh how horrid. Jeepers. Golly gosh. Expunging so called dated words takes something out of the context of time and history.

Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and other old works are also no longer as popular due to the language and possibly the historical period in which those works are set. Of course, their copyright expired many years ago.

In high school, we studied the works of Thomas Hardy, Oscar Wilde and William Shakespeare for English (literature). Children today could start young with the old-fashioned Enid Blyton.

Expunging dated words removes an important component of literature.

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