Sophie Kinsella, Shopaholic and Sister. Differences between British and american Version of the Novel by charmingstars


									             Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic and Sister:
         Differences Between the British and American Versions of the Novel
                               Milla Remes, Fall 2007
                         A FAST-US-1 (TRENAK2) Introduction to American English First Paper
                                         The FAST Area Studies Program
                              Department of Translation Studies, University of Tampere

This paper analyzes differences in the first four chapters of the British and American versions of Sophie
Kinsella‟s novel Shopaholic & Sister (2004). "Sophie Kinsella," the pen name of the British writer
Madeleine Wickham, is author of the best-selling "Shopaholic" novels, in which the main character, Becky
Bloomwood, continually gets into difficulty because of her obsession with shopping. In Shopaholic and
Sister, Becky and her husband Luke are on their honeymoon, and return home to London after ten
months of traveling.

Shopaholic and Sister is the fourth of five books in the series, the others being The Secret Dreamworld
of a Shopaholic (published in the U.S. as Confessions Of A Shopaholic, 2000), Shopaholic Abroad
(published in the U.S. as Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, 2001) Shopaholic Ties the Knot (2002), and
Shopaholic and Baby (2007). All five books have been published both in Britain and in the USA, with the
British versions having been modified for the American market. The British version of the novel was
published by Black Swan, and the American version by Bantam Dell.

How much modification was undertaken to adapt the British book for the American market? To what
extent did the changes represent "standard" differences between British and American English as
opposed to "original" or even "unexplainable" solutions? In what cases were clearly British references left

There were surprisingly many changes between the British and American versions. Is it still the same
novel? The first four chapters provide numerous examples of the changes made, categorized as follows.

Differences in Spelling

A basic difference between the two versions of the novel is the way certain words are spelled. First of all
there are words that have the same pronunciation both in British English and in American English, but
which are spelled differently (see Table 1). The American English way of spelling the words corresponds
more closely to the way the words are pronounced. Unpronounced vowels, for example, are therefore

Table 1: Different Spelling, Same Pronunciation

 Page         British Version               American Version                 Page             Difference
13      colours                          colors                           5           "u" omitted
23      travelling                       traveling                        16          "ll" becomes "l"
57      defence                          defense                          51          "c" becomes "s"
67      two-storey                       two-story                        60          "e" omitted
69      paralysed                        paralyzed                        62          "s" becomes "z"

There are also words that are both pronounced and spelled differently in British English and in American
English, even if they are still basically the same words.

Table 2: Different Spelling and Pronunciation, Same Terms

 Page      British Version                 American Version                Page              Difference
26    amongst                            among                            19          "st" omitted
42    oversized                          oversize                         35          "d" omitted
43      towards                        toward                      37         "s" omitted

Differences in Punctuation


The clearest difference in punctuation is the way quotations are marked. The British version uses inverted
commas („…‟), whereas the American version uses quotation marks (“…”).

                The British version: „Focus on your breathing,‟ Chandra is saying (14).
                The American version: “Focus on your breathing,” Chandra is saying (7).


The use of commas proved to be more difficult to analyze. At first it seemed that there were more
commas in the American version. Commas were added to the American version, for example, in the
following cases:

Table 3: The Use of Commas #1

 Page              British Version                            American Version                     Page
14      yoga wear too                              yoga wear, too                                 7
15      Although actually                          Although, actually,                            7
15      Apparently                                 Apparently,                                    7
20      But just sometimes I wish                  But just sometimes, I wish                     13
22      Plus we've got                             Plus, we've got                                14
26      What is marriage if not                    What is marriage, if not                       19
41      striding down the street arm in arm        striding down the street, arm in arm           35
53      Unfortunately I have to go.                Unfortunately, I have to go.                   46

However, there are also several occasions where commas in the British version had been omitted in the
American version:

Table 4: The Use of Commas #2

 Page                 British Version                           American Version                   Page
13      and, if I                                    and if I                                     5
16      I have, too.                                 I have too.                                  8
20      Instead, I gaze                              Instead I gaze                               13
29      I say, as the waiter retreats.               I say as the waiter retreats.                23
47      And there's one, in front of my nose.        And there's one in front of my nose.         40
65      for an exhibition, or something              for an exhibition or something               58

Based on these examples, it seems that there is no clear pattern to the different uses of commas.
However, certainly because of the different placing of commas, the rhythm and the phrasing of the
sentences would be different if spoken out loud. Perhaps one explanation for some comma changes,
therefore, was the different phrasal rhythm with which American readers were assumed to intuitively
"read" the text.

Another interesting difference is the way compound words are written. The British version uses hyphens
in compounds, but in the American version hyphens are not used. Rather, the two parts of the words are
either written together or there is a space between them. This is exemplified in the following tables.

Table 5: The Use of Hyphens #1

 Page               British Version                            American Version                    Page
13      cut-off                                    cutoff                                         6
25      super-bright                               superbright                                    18
44      mish-mash                                  mishmash                                       37
68      over-bright                                overbright                                     61
69      passer-by                                  passerby                                       62

Table 6: The Use of Hyphens #2

 Page               British Version                            American Version                    Page
13      deep-blue                                  deep blue                                      5
15      pain-free                                  pain free                                      8
17      half-price                                 half price                                     9
19      half-concentrating                         half concentrating                             11
44      gift-wrapped                               gift wrapped                                   38
60      lawn-mower                                 lawn mower                                     53

However, some words are written with a hyphen in the American version as well. These words include
heart-stopping, red-haired, all-knowing and cross-legged.

Differences in Word Order

Sometimes the word order in the American version has been changed from the original British version, as
seen in the examples in Table 7.

Table 7: Word Order

 Page             British Version                              American Version                    Page
16    looks seriously around the group             looks around the group seriously               9
21    I turn over the card                         I turn the card over                           14
      We've only been travelling for ten
22                                                 We've been traveling for only ten months 14
45    bronze shiny paper                           shiny bronze paper                             38

A specific case where the word order differs is in reporting clauses. The British version seems to prefer
the order "Verb + Subject," whereas the American version uses the order "Subject + Verb" (see Table 8).

Table 8: Word Order in Reporting Clauses

 Page               British Version                            American Version                    Page
19       points out Luke                             Luke points out                                12
62       says Luke                                   Luke says                                      55
62       exclaims Mum                                Mum exclaims                                   55

Grammatical Differences

Some of the differences can be labelled as grammatical.

Table 9: Grammatical Differences

 Page         British Version               American Version             Page           Difference
                                                                                  lang=SV got vs.
22      I've got so blasй             I've gotten so blasй             15
28      I sneaked back                I snuck back                     21         sneaked vs. snuck
        Maybe Dolce&Gabbana           Maybe Dolce&Gabbana
42                                                                     35         do vs. does
        do toothpaste.                does toothpaste.
                                                                       lang=SV lang=SV lira (sg) vs.
43      it's in lira                  it's in lire
                                                                       37      lire (pl)

The first two examples show that the past tense forms of get and sneak are different in British and
American English. The third example is also interesting. The British version treats Dolce&Gabbana as
plural: it is seen as a collective noun. The American version, on the other hand, treats Dolce&Gabbana
as singular: it is not seen as collective, but simply as a singular brand name. The last example also deals
with singularity and plurality. The British version uses the singular form lira for the currency, but it is
changed into the plural form, lire, in the American version.

Changes of Words

Many of the differences between the two versions of the novel involve changes of words. Sometimes just
a single word is changed (see Table 10). In these cases the different words used in the two versions have
slightly different meanings, or at least different connotations. Sometimes a whole sentence or phrase is
different, because the structures have been changed as well as the words (see Table 11). There seems
to be no clear reason for either of these types of changes; at least they are not explicitly derived from
standard differences between British and American English.

Table 10: Changes Involving Single Words

 Page                British Version                             American Version                    Page
9        British visitor                             British tourist                                1
13       when I swivel my head                       when I turn my head                            5
19       a beautiful spirit                          a beautiful inner being                        12
19       towards the distant haze                    toward the distant horizon                     12
21       swirly writing                              swirly engraving                               14
50       the wrong number                            an obsolete number                             43

Table 11: Changes Involving Whole Phrases or Sentences

 Page             British Version                                American Version                    Page
18    I say in dignified tones                       I say with dignity                             11
20       I give a happy sigh                        I sigh happily                                  12
33       in sudden inspiration                      suddenly inspired                               26
39       I stare her in amazed joy                  I stare at her in joy and amazement             33
48       in smug, bored tones                       in a smug, bored tone                           41

However, some changes can be explained by the differences between British and American English.

Table 12: Changes Due to Differences Between British and American English

 Page                 British Version                            American Version                    Page
26       I feel a tiny lollop inside                I feel a nervous flip inside                    19
35       which niggles me                           which bugs me                                   29
38       a stripy T-shirt                           a striped T-shirt                               32
42       six zillion carriers                       six zillion bags                                35
68       drinks party                               lunch party                                     61

According to The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, lollop (757) and carrier (178) are used in
British English, and stripy (1289) is informal British English. A drinks party (OALD 385) — a social
occasion where you have alcoholic drinks — is a British concept with which most Americans would not be
familiar. These words have therefore been changed. The verb bug might be considered more American;
at least it is listed in Whaddyacallit, a dictionary of American English slang (79).

Typically British Words Left Unaltered

Oddly, many typically British expressions are left unaltered, and the same words are used in both
versions of the novel. Flat and biscuit are not changed to their American equivalents apartment and
cookie. Also the typically British swear words blimey and bloody are left unaltered. The informal British
word for pound, quid, is not changed either. The reason for not substituting these British words may be
simply due to the fact that, after all, Becky and the other main characters of the novel are British, not
American, and the British words make the characters more authentic.

Unaccountable Differences

There are even bigger differences between the two versions of the novel that cannot be accounted for.
Sometimes longer passages of text are different, even such that the story line changes. For example,
there is a scene in the first chapter where in the British version Luke suggests that Becky should order
herself a drink. Later, when her drink arrives, Luke orders himself a beer. In the American version,
however, Luke suggests that Becky should order for both of them; she then orders a drink for herself and
a beer for Luke. It is difficult to understand why this change has been made. There are also several cases
where the order and the amount of information varies between the two versions. Sometimes information
is added to the American version; sometimes it is left out (see Table 13).

Table 13: Adding and Omitting Information

 Page           British Version                             American Version                Page
23    „You never said!‟ I stare at him.         “You never said!” He seemed so into it! 16
                                                I‟ve never had an inkling he‟s been bored.
51       „You are on the list! You will have to “You will have to wait your turn!”         43
         wait your turn!‟

How Significant Were the Modifications?
The thirteen tables above cite many modifications, considering that they are only from the first four
chapters of the two versions of Shopaholic & Sister. Clearly some of the modifications cited are trivial;
they are not easily noticeable unless one is particularly looking for them, and are easy to explain from the
perspective of standard differences between British and American English.

Other modifications, however, stand out. They are significant not only as changes in wording and
structure, but also as changes to certain aspects of the story line. The reasoning behind several of these
changes is unclear, at least at this level of analysis. Yet in the end the two versions are still the same
novel, although surprisingly different.

Works Cited

               Kinsella, Sophie. Shopaholic & Sister. London: Black Swan, 2004.
               - - - . Shopaholic & Sister. New York: Bantam Dell, 2004.
                The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. 6 edition. Oxford: Oxford University
                Press, 2000.
               Rekiaro, Ilkka. Whaddyacallit. Amerikanenglannin slangin ja amerikkalaisuuksien
                sanakirja. Helsinki: WSOY, 2002.

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