I say Pooh to all this Yanking up the Queen's English

Kelner's View

Share

I have written before about those tell-tale signs of getting old, one of which is disapproval of grammatical errors.

I'm not talking about the greengrocer's apostrophe, or even the greengrocers' apostrophe. No, it's those solecisms which, because they weren't stamped out when they first appeared, became accepted. When did "invite" replace "invitation"? Likewise, the mutation of "heading" into "headed", as in: "Where are we headed?" I have even heard announcers on Radio 4 use this. In common with many similar corruptions, this one travelled here over the Atlantic.

Now I don't know how old Linda Weeks is, but I'd like to wager that she won't see her forties again. She works as a librarian in Maidstone and her one-woman campaign against the use of Americanisms in works of English literature moved into overdrive at the weekend when she complained to a publisher about a new edition of Winnie the Pooh.

She was near breaking point when she read that Eeyore had "gotten all spruced up for spring", and she finally snapped when he said that his tail "swishes real good".

The publisher, Parragon, responded by saying that its books sold all around the world and sometimes "had to be adapted to appeal to the widest possible audience".

Of course, they have a point, but while Americans are known to have a propensity to insularity, their children surely could cope with the odd character who doesn't talk as if created in the Disney studios. It certainly wouldn't happen the other way: can you imagine if Huckleberry Finn started talking like one of the Famous Five? "I say," said Huck, "that's a spiffing idea. And let's wash it down with lashings of tea!"

I don't care about Winnie the Pooh, but I do think that Ms Weeks is right about the primacy of an author's words. Being translated into another tongue is one thing, but corrupting a writer's work is quite another.

It's a lapse in standards and the fight must start somewhere.

I sometimes correct people when they use a split infinitive in speech or employ "hopefully" in the wrong sense (no, I'm not much fun to go down the pub with) and I'm not advocating quite that much vigilance. But I rarely get the sense that we as a nation are as fiercely protective of our language as we are of, say, our currency or our customs. So top marks to Linda Weeks. It may seem a trivial matter – after all, it's AA Milne we're talking about, not Dickens – but it's high time we rose up and declared a pedant's revolt.

Or should that be pedants' revolt?

 

 

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Read Next
'Our media are suffering a new experience: not fear of being called anti-Semitic'  

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk
David Cameron (pictured) can't steal back my party's vote that easily, says Nigel Farage  

Cameron’s benefits pledge is designed to lure back Ukip voters. He’ll have to try harder

Nigel Farage
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices