Pooh Bear the Yankee Doodle Dandy

22 Jan

I’ve just read a very interesting article about the modern renditions of the classical Winnie The Pooh. Apparently there is a lot of controversy over the Americanization of that iconic character and his 100 Acre Woods. Many people are seem to think the books should be kept in the classic British style and over using what they dub “Americanisms”.

Parragon who publishes the new pooh have this to say however, “[W]e sell our books around the world and not just the UK and so we sometimes need to adapt the language accordingly to make it accessible for the widest possible audience.”

I’m personally of the opinion that if you are carrying on a classic story you should certainly try to keep it in the original voice. I don’t think this is required though, especially if the original stories are still published as they were written.
To view the article


Posted by on January 22, 2012 in miscellany


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12 responses to “Pooh Bear the Yankee Doodle Dandy

  1. riggledo

    January 22, 2012 at 5:45 am

    My mother read me the Winnie the Pooh stories when I was little and I always thought they were great classics…

    I hadn’t read the stories in ages, though, and I was stuck with the manufactured memories of what I thought Winnie the Pooh was… until Apple forcefully added the e-reader app to the iOS on my iPhone a couple releases back and everyone got Winnie the Pooh for free as a built-in read…

    Turns out, Winnie the Pooh was kind of a ignorant, arrogant, self-centered, douche bag… I don’t really care if the “language” is changed or not. I won’t be reading it again, and I won’t be sharing it with my theoretical future children.

    Oh, bother!

    • bibliopirate

      January 22, 2012 at 5:44 pm

      But arrogance and ignorance are the pinnacles of childhood.

  2. Fay

    January 22, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    The old language was fine for my American children. I shudder to think of what an editor intent on “Americanizing” the text would do. Why bother?

    • bibliopirate

      January 22, 2012 at 5:40 pm

      Because obviously American children and other English speaking children won’t be able to infer the meaning of a “skipping rope” they’d be lost, absolutely lost if it wasn’t referred to as a “jump rope”. After the confusion, they’d probably never read again.

  3. Will Hall

    January 22, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    I think it’s understandable since Winnie the Pooh is a kids book, and the odd-changing of words like ‘skipping rope’ instead of ‘jump rope’ to make it more understandable is fine. Otherwise, the parent reading it will be constantly explaining, and may even need the helping hand of Google themselves to know what something means. I’m surprised they didn’t do that for Harry Potter, which references a lot of British things. Having said all this, American books brought over here (I’m in the UK) are never changed or corrected. Elevator instead of lifts, garbage instead of rubbish. I think I’ve grown up – through US movies, books and television – to know all the words and phrases. Perhaps its time America started to learn our ways too!

    • bibliopirate

      January 22, 2012 at 9:57 pm

      We should learn, since something like 80% of Americans only speak English we at least should master both American English and British English.

  4. LibriCritic

    January 23, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    The United States is a strange country, being both insular and very culturally diverse. More things pour out of the US in terms of culture (like Will Hall said, Britons are used to imported American movies, books, and television) than pour in. So, it’s understandable that American audiences, and especially children who haven’t had much chance to be exposed to British-English, may not grasp all the differences–not just with word usage, but punctuation and grammar as well. That’s why publishers have a history of changing those things–to match American writing standards (like single vs double quotations marks, spelling differences, comma usage, slang, etc.).

    I think this has been changing, though. Americans are getting more and more foreign cultural imports (Doctor Who has a huge cult following); and with things like the Internet they are being more exposed to British-isms. This may be more true in certain parts of the US (America is a big country after all). I remember reading somewhere the Eastcoasters are more familiar with British slang than their West coast or Mid-west counterparts. Publishers may be a bit behind the curve, in terms of adaption standards. While more Americans may be okay with reading the original British texts, publishers are still operating on the old policies. But if outcries like this are constantly being raised, they’ll evolve…eventually.

    Finally, I found it amusing that in the article the librarian said “A.A. Milne would never have written the word ‘gotten’. First, because it’s probably true. A.A. Milne would not have used ‘gotten’ instead of ‘got.’ And second, because (for all you linguistic experts out there) ‘gotten’ is actually more grammatically correct than ‘got’–if you compare it to original Old English (for a fun article on this read:

    Phew, sorry this went so long. Hadn’t realized I had this much to say…

    • bibliopirate

      January 23, 2012 at 7:19 pm

      No need to apologize for a long post that is interesting, and this article looks great. Thanks for sharing.

  5. mooseandmuffin

    January 23, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    I have very mixed feelings about this…

    One half of me thinks that books are works of art and should be kept in their original form.
    You wouldn’t ‘update’ a classical painting to include a modern skyline, for example.
    A book isn’t just about how easy a story is to read it’s a statement about the Author and the language he or she uses is an important part of that.

    The other half, the more modernist part, see’s value in ‘keeping with the times’. When studying Philosophy I always found it amusing that it was ‘easier’ to read, for example, Plato’s Republic, a book literally thousands of years old, than it was to read one from a hundred years ago.
    This is simply because ‘Ye (The) Olde English’ way of writing is archaic and long winded. Those ancient texts have often been translated to something we can more readily understand.

    Language changes…

    Not really sure where I’m going with this…and I hate to jump to the Daily Mail style ‘They’re dumbing our stuff down’ knee jerk reaction but it does feel slightly…wrong.

    Parents should explain to their children…a Skipping Rope is what the British call a Jump Rope. If they don’t understand that other cultures use different phrases…they’ll never learn to be acceptive of them.

    (Thanks for the like by the way…love the blog)

    • bibliopirate

      January 23, 2012 at 9:59 pm

      I think the originals should remain available, but there is nothing wrong with a modernization also being available. As long as Pooh doesn’t get an Ipod that would be too far.
      (Also thank you very much, and you’re very welcome)

  6. fibreharmonicsymphony

    January 23, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    As a Canadian I quite often find myself in perplexing “no man’s land” between American and Brithish English. Therefore I was quite conflicted about this post. Ordinarily I would prefer that all literary works stay in their original form. For expample were we to translate Shakespear to modern English, so as to simplify the lives of high schoold students, I believe we would be robbing them of a beautiful opportunity to explore his work as he intended it.

    However Winnie the Pooh was not written to be intellectually stimulating to six year olds. And as encouraging children to read seems to be more of a challenge with each passing generation, I can hardly condemn any strategy that makes a favourite children’s book more accessible to the current generation of young readers.

  7. Elaine Shpungin

    January 24, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    Thanks for the interesting post. What really kills me is the Disney-fied versions of the Pooh stories and characters which our 4 yr old sometimes finds at the library. Be it British or American, I am fine as long as you keep it with the charming, funny, stuffed ole Pooh by A.A. Milne.

    p.s. Thanks for the “like” on my post about the Dangers of Unasked Questions


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