April 18, 2009

P-A-D-D-I-N-G-T-O-N

Good God, this Wikipedia entry is helpful. So it turns out that it's not just the French who are to blame for the difficulty of correctly spelling the English language. British spelling is the silent killer that makes American spelling an even more confusing beast than it already is. But it's hard to blame the British when they have such lovely accents, isn't it?

U.K. vs. U.S. spelling
snigger vs. snicker
aluminium vs. aluminum
moustache vs. mustache
titbit vs. tidbit
bogeyman vs. boogeyman (But "boogeyman" looks so much scarier!)
grey vs. gray

And those are just a few examples, but in my view, all of that doesn't matter when you consider that we wouldn't have a certain lovable bear from Darkest Peru without that gifted British author, Michael Bond.

On the official Paddington Bear website, Bond relates the advantages of working with a bear protagonist and his surprise that this "essentially English character" has gained a permanent place in this particular Chinese-American heart (and, no doubt, countless other non-British hearts, too).
"The great advantage of having a bear as a central character is that he can combine the innocence of a child with the sophistication of an adult. Paddington is not the sort of bear that would ever go to the moon - he has his paws too firmly on the ground for that. He gets involved in everyday situations. He has a strong sense of right and wrong and doesn't take kindly to the red tape bureaucracy of the sillier rules and regulations with which we humans surround ourselves. As a bear he gets away with things. Paddington is humanised, but he couldn't possibly be 'human'. It just wouldn't work. ... I am constantly surprised by all the translations because I thought that Paddington was essentially an English character. Obviously Paddington-type situations happen all over the world."

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