Having read chapters seven and eight a line at a time I can now say I found thirteen changes between them (again, not including random adding and removing of hyphens or I’d be here for a week.) Apologies in advance, there’s a bit of a grammar rant in here. It was one in the morning and I was tired.
CHAPTER SEVEN: BACK TO KIRRIN COTTAGE
I rather stand by my theory that the more action a chapter sees, the more changes it receives. Chapter six was pretty action packed and I noted twelve alterations, whereas chapter seven, which features much more talk and planning only has six. (Out of interest I did a page count, chapter six is only one page longer than chapter seven, as obviously a substantially longer chapter would have a lot more words that could possibly be altered. One page’s worth doesn’t seem significant to me. Not to double the alterations anyway.)
The first change I found is that whilst has become while. Whilst might be a little old-fashioned, but it’s still a perfectly good word, isn’t it?
Next, the line he [Timmy] didn’t seem to like the wreck at all, but growled deeply at it, has been changed. The but has become an and. They both mean the same thing, so why was it changed? Whether he didn’t like it, but growled instead, or didn’t like it and growled… it’s the same, and really doesn’t warrant an edit in my opinion.
Uncle Quentin’s threats are then watered down. In the original he announces he will keep [them] all in bed tomorrow. Nowadays he just threatens to keep [them] in. Likewise when the children say they’ll find themselves in bed, it instead becomes inside. Not sure about this change either. Keeping children in bed as a punishment probably seems old-fashioned, but it’s not exactly a crime of child cruelty. I imagine they would be allowed out to use the bathroom! It’s later said that they worry they might be sent to bed, so clearly not all punishments involving limiting them to bed are banned.
The last change is equally ridiculous. Dick lay back in a chair becomes on a chair. There’s only one word for that, and it’s why? There’s a difference between being in a chair and on it, even if it’s very slight. Likewise being in your bed and on it are different, but both are acceptable! In the chair implies comfort, a certain cosiness which is lacking if you’re just on a chair.
This chapter makes me feel like the editor read it, couldn’t find anything to change, or not enough anyway, and so felt he wasn’t earning his money. So he went back and made a half-dozen petty changes to justify his job.
CHAPTER EIGHT: EXPLORING THE WRECK
Slightly more action = slightly more changes.
Another whilst becomes while, and like in several other places shorts become jeans so I’ll spare you my now-usual rant about weather-appropriate clothing and just point out they left the rubber-soled shoes alone, surely trainers would go better with the jeans?
That means I can save my ranting for these sorts of changes. The original talks about the rocks on which the great wreck rested. Seems perfectly reasonable, doesn’t it? Apparently it’s not, as the later editions reads the rocks in which the great wreck rested. It’s a boat, boats get stuck on rocks, not in them. The updated version can’t seem to make up its mind, as it later has a reference to the wreck being on the rocks.
Finally, a change that might be a positive one. Isn’t it strange to see bunks the sailors have slept in – and look at that old wooden chair, is how the original text reads. The paperback reads isn’t it strange to see bunks the sailors have slept in? – and look at that old wooden chair. The first part of the sentence is rather questioning. Sentences begging isn’t it or aren’t they etc usually are, though in this case it seems almost a statement. But a question mark followed by a dash? – I’m not so sure about that. Just doesn’t look right in either the text or this blog. A full stop, whether at the bottom of a question or exclamation mark, or on its own, denotes the end of a sentence. A dash is for joining two parts together. (Let’s not get into the difference between hyphens, m-dashes and n-dashes though.) How can you join a sentence fragment onto a finished sentence? If they’d wanted to put a question mark in, to me they should then have altered the start of the next sentence to “Oh, and look,” or something to that effect, assuming they care about the ‘don’t start a sentence with a conjunction’ rule.
The rest of the alterations are to do with the editor’s least favourite word: queer. A queer smell becomes a funny one, a queer sight becomes strange, instead of feeling queer the children feel uneasy (which to me isn’t the same thing at all!) and, slightly incongruously a queer trip becomes a weird one. I can’t remember weird appearing in any original famous five texts, though I could be wrong. It’s certainly in The Valley of Adventure, when the girls go into the cave of echoes, but it’s not a word used very often by Blyton I don’t think.
And that’s it for these chapters. Please do comment if a) you can point out multiple uses of weird in Blyton’s works, or b) think question marks and dashes of any kind go well together. Or if you have anything to say about any of these changes!