Thursday, January 6, 2011

Mark Twain Bowlderized -- January 6, 2010

A new edition of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn will replace the word "N---er" (sorry, can't bring myself to type it) with "Slave." In addition, "Injun Joe" will become "Indian Joe" and "half-breed" will become "half-blood." Allen Gribben, the perpetrator, says that these changes will make it safer to assign the book in schools.

I chose the headline above, from the 22-April-1910 San Francisco Call because it makes me think of one possible reaction Twain would have had were he alive. After all, he once wrote "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."

"Slave" is not the word people would have used in the circumstances in the book when Twain was a child. "Injun" was a way of pronouncing "Indian." "Half-breed" is what people would have said.

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