At last

It’s been far too long between posts. There are a lot of reasons why I haven’t been writing blogs: I lost a couple of posts in cyber space that I’d gone to quite a lot of trouble to write. I’ve been traveling for most of the past two months. I’ve been thinking a lot and writing very little.

But on Friday I came home to a parcel of books that were too exciting to not post a blog about. The image is of the cover of the Cornelsen English Library edition of A Prayer for Blue Delaney which has been published in Germany. Excerpts from the novel had already been published in several versions of English language text books that are compulsory for Year 9 students and the abridged version is now available for further study. There’s a vocabulary section in the back of the book with translations and pronunciation of some of the words. Damper is listed with its phoenetic spelling (which I can’t find the symbols to type out for you) and then the wonderful German version of the word – “australisches Busch-Brot”.

A prayer for Blue Delaney is set in 1950s Australia and includes a lot of rural usage. Some words were simply removed for the abridgment as being too difficult to contexualise but I’m impressed by the number that they included in the vocabulary section. I don’t speak German so I can’t judge if they’ve found the exact word to explain the terms but some of them must have been a real headache to translate.

Here’s a taste:

billycan: Metalldose, die als Kochtopf verwendet wird
cobber: Kumpel
gooby eyes: Glupschaugen
kookaburra: australiche Vogelart

I know a lot of the language in the novel presented problems for the German editors who had to make the story accessible to German high school students for whom English is their second language. It makes you realise that, unlike British and American English, Australian English has its own flavour that students of English have small exposure to unless they travel to Australia. As the world grows smaller and the internet lends us the illusion that we’re part of a global community, I guess it’s easy to forget we really are a weird mob.

Kirsty is an Australian author of books for children and young adults.

“Books are windows into other ways of being.”

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