(The video is also pretty cool if you’re also a Harry Potter nerd.)
International Quidditch: Using Cultural Translation Exercises to Teach Word Choice and Audience by Donelle Ruwe
I am a huge Harry Potter nerd, so when I found this article on the English Journal I had to read it. In this article, Donelle Ruwe talks about comparing different translations in Harry Potter to help students think about word choice, as well as translation. She shows her students how translation does not just focus on each individual word but also cross-cultural connections, puns, meanings, etc. This aspect of the article somewhat reminded of me Christensen's “Finding Voice” article on how to include colloquial and vernacular language in writing. Like some of the language Christensen discusses in her article, Harry Potter is laden with Brit-specific terminology that is, by all means, correct, but will also confuse American children. Ruwe goes into detail when discussing how some words just sound inherently British, like “toilet” versus “bathroom.” The difference when comparing Ruwe's to Christensen’s discussion of language, however, is that the American version of Harry Potter edited out most of the British versions of words, rather that conceding that American children need a heavy dose of some British culture. I think this choice mostly justifiable, because after all, the changes are to to help children understand and connect with the story. Plus, the difference between the American and British texts, as Ruwe points out, provides a great opportunity for students to compare the word choice between the two. Not only does this help students understand cultural difference, but it also illustrates to students how even the smallest aspects of writing come down to a choice. Something as simple as changing “football” to “soccer” can create a much better understanding for American readers.
I think Ruwe’s approach is a great way, albeit a rather specific way, to teach students how authors have to make very minute decisions with their writing and word choice, as well asshowing how audience is important to keep in mind while writing.
— Rose Steptoe