Are the Discworld books edited in the United States?

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Are the Discworld books edited in the United States?

Postby cmcl » Tue May 11, 2010 5:11 pm

(I tried searching before posting, but did not find a topic that addressed this. Google wasn't any help either, sadly.)

I live in the U.S., and it has always bugged me the way the Harry Potter books were edited for American audiences, with various British terms and phrases being changed because they "wouldn't make sense" to American readers. I want to start buying my own copies of the Discworld books, but I just wonder if the versions published in the U.S. have been diluted in the same way. Even as a kid, I loved reading books by British authors and learning on my own that people from other countries use different words for things, and I hate the idea that people would actually put down a book because they don't know what a "lorry" is, or something.

So, rant aside, can I order the Discworld books cheaply on, say, Amazon.com and get the same books that British readers get, or do I have to order from Amazon.co.uk just to be sure?
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Postby chris.ph » Tue May 11, 2010 5:59 pm

welcome to the site cmcl :)
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Postby ShadowNinjaCat » Tue May 11, 2010 6:39 pm

Welcome cmcl :D
as to the ordering I don't know Amazon :oops: sorry....
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Postby Tonyblack » Tue May 11, 2010 7:34 pm

Hi cmcl and welcome to the site :D

As a Brit married to an American, I've read both the UK and US versions and as far as I can tell, there's very little editting at all (apart from differences in spelling). The one or two things we've spotted are very minor - such as a character in Thief of Time saying 'boom-boom' in the Uk copy and 'badda-boom' in the US.

If you want to get the UK copies without paying a fortune in shipping, try using Amazon Canada as they carry the UK copies and charge much less shipping to the US.
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Postby raisindot » Tue May 11, 2010 8:08 pm

As Pooh pointed out in the Thud! Discussion:

"On page 8 of the US hardcover it says "Woerworld" instead of Uberwald. In the UK edition it says "Uberwald."

In the same paragraph, the word "remember" is also misspelled.

Which suggests that, in some cases, the U.S. publisher may get an original Pterry electronic file from the UK, change some of the spellings, and then run a spell check on it, or a lousy editorial assistant manually changes things.

I've seem really bad typos in some of the American editions. Just can't think of them off the top of me head.

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Postby Tonyblack » Tue May 11, 2010 8:26 pm

There are a few in the UK versions as well. :(
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Postby cmcl » Wed May 12, 2010 7:16 pm

Thank you all for the welcome! It's been a few years since I originally read the first few Discworld books and at the time I wasn't thinking along these lines. Thanks especially Tonyblack, that's the kind of info I was wondering about, and I'm very glad to hear the books are not being "Americanized."

I was thinking of ordering the US paperbacks from Amazon.com and taking advantage of their "free super saver shipping" if at all possible, but only if the books were the real deal. Thanks for the tip about Amazon Canada, though. That's definitely something I didn't think of and will keep in mind.

Thanks again, everyone!
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Postby Tonyblack » Wed May 12, 2010 7:28 pm

Sharlene, my American wife has all the books in US version and I've had to explain some of the Britishisms in them. :wink:
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Re: Are the Discworld books edited in the United States?

Postby Creosote » Thu Jul 04, 2013 1:42 pm

Sourcery at least was edited, badly, for the US audience.

I was recently rereading it in the American edition when I tripped over this sentence: "The Luggage, of course, followed them with a noise like someone tapdancing over a bag of potato chips". I doubted that Terry had written the last two words, and sure enough, found that in the original edition it is "bag of crisps". So I switched to reading the British edition and kept an eye out for things that an American editor might have changed.

There are a couple of fairly innocuous vocabulary substitutions besides crips/potato chips. Conina's hairgrips become "hairclips". On the other hand "candyfloss haystack" is not turned into "cotton candy haystack".

The inept edits involve decisions about British slang and distinctive grammatical constructions.

  • British original: In Creosote's[1] snake pit, the snake "knew trouble when it saw it. It wasn’t about to cause any aggro for anyone". Changed to "it wasn't about to cause any irritation for anyone". Very awkward—"bother" or "trouble" would have done.
  • British original: ‘If it was going to answer to them it would have done, wouldn’t it?’ said Conina. Changed to "If it was going to answer to them it would have done so, wouldn't it?" Too formal; the idiomatic American equivalent is "If it was going to answer to them it would have, wouldn’t it?"
  • "three inches of solid oak with great iron nails in" --> "three inches of solid oak with great iron nails in it". Not objectionable per se (American English never uses the former construction), but if you're going to do that you'll have a problem with The Band With Rocks In.

I don't like the practice of editing out British usages in American editions, though I suppose you can make the argument that the Discworld books are not in fact set in the UK but in an imaginary world, so that it's legitimate to edit away language that would be unfamiliar or misunderstood for a particular audience. I know that Jasper Fforde has been quite positive about wanting to make his books more accessible to international readers, to the point that "cake or biscuit?" becomes "cake or cookie?" all through The Fourth Bear. But it's still (to my mind) an insult to the reader's intelligence. (Don't get me started on Nairn's decision a year or two ago to relabel their oatcakes as "oat crackers" for North American sale...)

[1] Incidentally, my user handle has nothing to do with the Seriph of Al Khali. See profile.
It's Creosote as in Larrea Tridentata, actually, not as in Seriph of Al Khali. Though I wouldn't say no to the wealth and the seraglio.
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Re: Are the Discworld books edited in the United States?

Postby Bouncy Castle » Thu Jul 04, 2013 2:17 pm

Welcome to the forum, Creosote.
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Re: Are the Discworld books edited in the United States?

Postby Tonyblack » Thu Jul 04, 2013 2:37 pm

Welcome from me too - and Happy Independence Day! :D

I have to say that one of the many fond memories I have from my trips to the US is the smell of the creosote plants after rain - especially in and around Tucson which has lots of creosote. :D
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Re: Are the Discworld books edited in the United States?

Postby Dotsie » Thu Jul 04, 2013 2:59 pm

Hi Creosote :)

Some of those 'translations' work better than others. It looks like aggro was translated by someone who doesn't know that aggro does indeed mean trouble. Shame!
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Re: Are the Discworld books edited in the United States?

Postby Creosote » Thu Jul 04, 2013 3:08 pm

Tonyblack wrote:I have to say that one of the many fond memories I have from my trips to the US is the smell of the creosote plants after rain - especially in and around Tucson which has lots of creosote. :D

Exactly, and that's where I used to live. So it's a little hard forgiving Terry Pratchett and Monty Python for what pops into people's heads when they hear "Creosote" as a name. (Though I'd much rather be identified with the Discworld character than the Meaning of Life character!)
It's Creosote as in Larrea Tridentata, actually, not as in Seriph of Al Khali. Though I wouldn't say no to the wealth and the seraglio.
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Re: Are the Discworld books edited in the United States?

Postby Who's Wee Dug » Thu Jul 04, 2013 5:48 pm

Welcome to the forum Creosote. :mrgreen:
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Re: Are the Discworld books edited in the United States?

Postby Freebie » Tue Feb 11, 2014 12:51 pm

It does irk me a little that the words get changed for US readers for the reason so many books coming out of US to here they have left in the Americanisms and we just have to accept it. A lot of it will be to save money, and perhaps they think we will just get on with it. It seems to me that British are more aware of American sayings and spellings, seemingly what with the US dominating various markets. I'm not bashing any US here, I just feel it is a shame they can't just have the original text as the author intended it, (to give a better idea of where he's coming from), and I'm pretty sure Americans could and can get to grips with it as it is!

On another note, on an apparently UK edition in one of the books, jewellery was spelt 'jewelry'.:o
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