William Steed writes:
The ABC has given us all a heads-up on new editions of Enid Blyton stories.
The new editions will replace outdated exclamations and general vocabulary with more modern idiom. Certainly some of it is outdated – children exclaiming “Mercy me!” is unthought of in the 21st century. But what to replace them with? I don’t suppose “f*** me!” is appropriate for a children’s story. Is “OMG!” any more appropriate? Or will that seem as outdated as “Golly gosh!” within five years?
I’m young enough to remember being thoroughly amused by the outdated language in the books. I sniggered for far too long, reading in C. S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian that “the children came out of the forest feeling a bit knocked up.” I didn’t know for a while what on earth brothers and sisters could be doing in a forest that would get them knocked up!
New editions of The Magic Faraway Tree books have already changed the snigger-inducingly named children Dick and Fanny. Other new editions (and these newly publicised editions) replace or gloss over now politically incorrect words – the “dirty tinker” mentioned in the ABC article.
The question that the Maj Kirkland brings up on ABC is how far we can take “modernisation”. “What if we did it to Shakespeare?” she asks. Well…
or maybe Jane Austen…
But she does have a bit of a point there. How often should one bring a story up to date? The moment people stop using a word? Maybe when it becomes offensive? Or if cultural standards change? New editions are great. It’s wonderful when new generations can appreciate old stories, but don’t forget to make sure the old ones are still available, and mark the new ones as updated editions. We don’t want people asking if the hot new author Enid Blyton’s available for interview.
Update: Today’s XKCD is thoroughly appropriate. I suspect it is very true.