The Americanisation of Literature

British classics like Winnie the Pooh have come under criticism after a new version has been strewn with Americanisms. Skipping ropes have changed to jump ropes, and Eeyore refers to being reunited with his tail by announcing “Swishes real good, too.” With changes like handkerchief to hankerchief and moustache to mustache, Americanisms are changing British literature. But it’s not just A.A Milne who’s been altered. Stories like Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White have been updated for the wider audience – Doc from the seven dwarfs has even lost his glasses.

All these errors were discovered in The Magical Story by Disney, causing a raft of complaints from mothers reading to their children. The publishers, Paragon, apologised for the errors, and explained about the Americanisms:

“With regard to your point on ‘Americanisms’, we sell our books around the world and not just the UK and so we sometimes need to adapt the language accordingly to make it accessible for the widest possible audience.”

I can remember reading these stories as a child and being enchanted by the language and the illustrations alike. Now I’ve reached the wonderful age of 24, I don’t remember the words so much – but I remember the effect they had on me. They told stories of a traditional, fairytale world, that seemed so very… English. And when I went into the Disney store a few months ago, I even noticed that Eeyore had a smile… Is it sad that such classics have been updated to what is deemed a wider audience?

What do you think about the Americanisation of British literature?


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