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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 intact? 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 omitted. 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 Quotations 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). Commas 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. Hyphens 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 months 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 gotten 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. th 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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