Saturday, 24 July 2010


Anyone (like me) who was a big fan of the Enid Blyton Famous Five (and later, Famous Seven) books will be sorry, but not wholly surprised to see that the language within the books has been given a 21st century makeover. In order to appeal to today's children, the publishers have attempted to drag the language from the 1940's into words and phrases more suitable for today's readers. No more awful swotters, dirty tinkers and jolly japes. Instead, the old-fashioned language and dated expressions are felt to be preventing today's children from enjoying the stories. Expressions like 'mercy me' will change to 'oh no', 'fellow' to 'man' and 'it's all very peculiar' to 'it's all very strange'. 
Other changes include 'housemistress' becoming 'teacher', 'awful swotter' becoming 'bookworm', 'mother and father' becoming 'mum and dad' and 'dirty tinker' to 'traveller'. The new contemporary books will be out in August and will still contain siblings Dick, Julian and Anne spending summer with their tomboy cousin George (Georgina) and Timmy the dog.  Even Nobby the circus boy has been updated to the more palatable 'Ned' although conversely, Dick and Fanny remain. I have written to the publishers Hodders with my further suggestions on the language used by the Famous Five which may appeal to todays' kiddywinkies....

'Oh My God Dick, that's sooooo wicked'
'Anyone fancy some lashings of Lambrini and a drag of my Marlboro light?' 
'I can't really be arsed going out looking for treasure, Hollyoaks is on'
'Anyone seen my GHD's' 
'Oh my God, that's soooo gay'
'Where's my f*ckin mobile you bunch of sh*theads?'
'Look I've got my period right so I'm not in the mood OK?'
'Does my arse look big in these skinny jeans?' 
'Oh My God I hate you' 
'F*ck the picnic, where's the nearest McDonalds?' 

Rumour has it, other classics are being brought up to date and dragged into the 21st century. Scrooge and Mr Bumble run a paedophile ring in Oliver Twist from an Amsterdam workhouse. Heathcliff runs an advertising agency and Cathy Earnshaw is his lesbian PA. Mr D'Arcy is a premiership footballer who has string of women at his disposable but gets caught out when the press reveal his 10 hour sex sessions in Chinawhite with a lapdancer.  

...Or perhaps the books could be left as they are and publishers should realise that young and old might just have the intelligence to realise that the language contained within the books is appropriate for the time and are more than capable of understanding the text without help of translation to modern language and in this respect, should be left intact. Enid would be turning in her grave. 

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