Why was J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone turned into Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the United States? In an internet forum it is argued that, quite simply, sorcerer sounds exciting, philosopher sounds boring. Others argue that this change is due to the “incredible ignorance of the average American”. The average American is beleived to be diluted in US education and does not grasp the mystical connotations of the philosopher’s stone. But would British children aged 9-14 be familiar with the concept? The term philosopher’s stone (just like Stein der Weisen) is not transparent, its ingredients do not give away its meaning. Other argue that it is the Hollywood-driven market which produces audiences more and more dependent on thrill and excitement, and a sorcerer is more compatible with this than a philosopher. One wonders, however, why publishers might have thought that Harry Potter actually needed this kind of promotion. Surely the books would have sold anyway. And couldn’t one simple trust in children’s ability to guess the meaning of an unknown concepts when reading books? And why did J.K. Rowling agree to this change? The same internet forum discusses another change from Britain to America: The Madness of George III became The Madness of King George. Was it because Americans, in their ignorance, would not know who George III was? Was it because they would assume that it is the third part of a trilogy and would not be interested because they had missed the first two parts? Was it because Americans would neither know nor care whether the first two Georges were mad or not? Was it because George III was the only King George America ever had? Or was it because the film portrays as a sympathetic character a man most Americans have been brought up to think of as a villain?
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Writers don’t give prescriptions, they give headaches.— Chinua Achebe
- Gender Language
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