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Wednesday, October 12, 2005


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I heard the 'verse' thing on an American program about dancing or cheerleading (yes, almost COMBATIVE dancing!) which I found a bit disturbing. Both the use of poetry terms and dancing as combat.

Ah, so it's an Americanism - which makes sense, as our children are full of them. Just yesterday Olle was talking about "candy" - after we'd seen "Willy Wonka" last week, which substituted "candy" for "chocolate" or "sweets" throughout, I noticed.

That "candy" thing almost makes me glad I had to see it in a dubbed German version. Interestingly though, Roald Dahl's book does seem to be written in a vaguely mid-Atlantic style so that Charlie Bucket's world could be interpreted as being anywhere, or in its own place.
I think there are also quite individual slang varieties. My daughter is currently saying "Mann-O" all the time which is definitely her own personal abbreviation of the expression of frustration "Mann, Oh Mann!" (needs hopefully no translation).

The boys have been using "verse" and it's variants for several years now. I thought it was Aussie terminology as I'd never heard it back home. Interesting...

Here in Michigan, USA, I've never heard anybody use the word "verse" that way. But I'm old, and not a TV watcher, so I suppose I could have missed it.

I'm curious about what's wrong with the use of the word "candy" in Willy Wonka. (It sounded to me like the ordinary American usage of the word. Though within my house we do have a standing disagreement about whether chocolate is a type of candy or its own separate unique thing.)

Valerie, I noticed the use of "candy" because Roald Dahl who wrote WW was British (okay, of Scandinavian background, but essentially he spent his life in Britain) and the British and Australians do not use "candy" as a generic word. We would talk about chocolate or chocolate bars and sweets or lollies. Or simply refer to sweet products by their brand name. I've never read WW and I'm interested by David's comment that it is written in a mid-Atlantic style - I'd be curious to find out if "candy" is indeed used in the book. I assumed that it had been inserted into the movie for an American audience and as such, (not to get too heavy about it) is a bit of cultural imperialism which ends up in Olle using a word which doesn't fit here.

Flipping through my copy of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"... the characters talk about chocolate, then it says that Mr. Wonka has invented more than 200 types of candy bars, then it mentions sweets, candy balloons, then it mentions that Mr. Wonka is making candy, then it's a chocolate factory, then it's "chocolates and candies" (aha -- in my family's difference of opinion of whether chocolate is a type of candy, that's a point for my claim that chocolate is a separate entity from candy)... anyway, that's from skimming the first 20 pages or so. So, it seems to skip around between several different usages. Now I'm curious to re-read the whole book to see if it has "mid-Atlantic style."

By the way, it's definitely a good book, worth reading. The sequel is kind of scary and weird, though, so I'd definitely pre-read it before reading it to a child. About half a year ago it freaked out my six-year-old enough that he asked me to stop reading it. Come to think of it, I recommend pre-reading the original book before reading it to a child, too -- it has some scary parts too.

By the way, I'm curious if you were watching the old 1970s version of Willy Wonka, or the recent new remake.

The new one, with Johnny Depp. It was watchable while we were watching it but totally forgettable after five minutes, from my point of view. Very cold. I don't know if that's a Tim-Burton effect (the director) or a Roald Dahl effect.

Candy has a very small, specific usage, in my lexicon. There is candy floss, which is pink spun sugar. And candy canes, which are canes of hard boiled sugar. Candied fruit is sugary fruit. So candy has very strong sugary/crystallised connotations. Chocolate in any form is never candy - it's chocolate! (I'm on your side and so is Anglo-Australian vocabulary.)

If "verse" ever makes it into the Macquarie as a verb meaning "to oppose" it will be a sad day indeed. I have known people to say "Team A is versing Team B" since I was was at primary school thirty years ago; thankfully, this is one usage that has not yet become accepted and is still rightfully regarded as incorrect.

One day it will probably happen; hopefully I won't be around to see it.

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