Hey there Linh here. I’m both excited and honoured to host Paula Weston’s guest blog about her book, Shadows now out in bookstores all across North America. Read on to see Weston’s insight into the word changes between the Australian and North American versions of Shadows. Check out the other tour stops!
About Paula: Paula Weston is a writer-journalist-professional communicator with pH creative. Weston is also a huge fan of Australian literature, fantasy/paranormal writing across books, TV and film; comedy in addition to being a closeted comic reader and TV addict. Shadows, the first book in the four book Rephaim series published by Tundra Books in Canada is now out in stores with the second book, Haze coming out in Fall 2014. Weston currently resides in Brisbane with her husband, Murray and their pets, a retired greyhound and a moody cockatiel. (Taken from the author’s website)
Not everything translates…even in English by Paula Weston
Australians, Americans and Canadians may speak the same language, but even in today’s globalized world there are still some words that don’t always translate between our cultures.
The Rephaim series is all about angels, half-angels, hellions and demons – definitely universal concepts. But the series is also set in Australia (mostly) and written by an Australian, and it turns out you guys aren’t necessarily familiar with all of our lingo.
Which is why, if you compare the Australian edition of Shadows to the North American one, you’ll find a few small changes. The same happened for the edition of Shadows published in the United Kingdom earlier this year – though not necessarily with the same words.
It’s quite common for Australian books (or, specifically, books using terms that are particular to Australia) to be tweaked here and there for overseas markets, but as far as I can tell, the reverse generally isn’t true: I’m pretty sure most books coming to Australia from the US and Canada aren’t tweaked for us. Of course, Australians have long been familiar with North American terms, thanks to decades of pop cultural influence from TV shows, films, music and books. (I picked up a few ‘Americanisms’ from reading Stephen King as a teenager and watching The Cosby Show.)
For me as a writer, it’s important readers understand what I’m describing so they can stay immersed in the story, so I get the reasons behind these sorts of changes. But, by the same token, I’d still like the ‘Australian-ness’ of this series to shine through. So I’m incredibly pleased with the light touch Tundra Books has taken in bringing the Rephaim to North America.
When I realised I was writing a story about fallen angels, half-angels and hell spawn (because I didn’t know that’s what I was doing at first – but that’s another story), I already had the Australian setting in my mind. It made sense to me: Australia is my home. I love the feel of the place, the natural environment and the people. (And the thought of throwing in some very down-to-earth Aussies – like the dope-growing Butler brothers – in the midst of eons-old mythology was particularly appealing.)
But that has meant there are words that don’t work for all readers. In the Tundra edition, most of the changes are simple: ‘car park’ becomes ‘parking lot’; ‘bedhead’ becomes ‘headboard’; ‘takeaway’ becomes ‘takeout’.
And then there are those words that would simply have no meaning at all to North American readers (unless they hang out with Australians):
- loo (washroom)
- eggflip (spatula)
- jumper (sweater)
- stubbies (shorts); (‘stubbies’ is actually a brand of work shorts)
- doona (blanket).
I love that much of the ‘local’ Australian flavour is still there through mentions of wildlife and vegetation. So here’s a quick visual guide to the birds, marsupials and trees mentioned in Shadows, in case you’re unfamiliar with them. I hope readers in the US and Canada enjoy the Australian setting and – more importantly – the story. Thanks for having me on the blog.