Yankin’ Rankin justified

Half a decade ago I wrote a post in which I complained about the Americanizing of vocabulary in the US editions of British detective novels, and specifically in those of Ian Rankin. The most appalling example I cited was in The Naming of the Dead, writing that “[a]pparently… not only was every instance of mobile phone replaced by cell phone, but the word mobile itself, commonly used in Britain as an abbreviation for mobile phone, became simply cell,” so that “…[w]hen the text reads ‘he left his cell’ it is not at all clear if the reference is to getting out of the lockup or not taking the mobile phone.”

I was also happy to note that no such “yankin'” was done in the following novel, Exit Music, which at the time seemed to be the last of the Rebus novel. Fortunately for us fans, Rankin has continued writing about John Rebus.

I recently read an early Rankin novel, a non-Rebus one titled Bleeding Hearts which was published in 1994 under the pseudonym Jack Harvey. It was not the original edition but an equally British reissue printed in 2000.

An American edition of the novel was published by Little, Brown in 2006. I have not seen it yet, and I don’t know if it was “yanked.” But consider this: a large part of the action takes place in the United States, and many of the characters are Americans. Rankin seems to have paid a lot of attention to the geography of the places where things happen, which is described in overwhelming detail. But he has an American, speaking to other Americans, say things like “tin-opener,” “tinned chilli,” “rucksack,” “balaclava” and “the NSC [National Security Council] are…” (He may have mixed up NSC with NSA.) Here’s where some judicious yankin’ Rankin might be justified.

Addendum: I have now seen the American edition, and in fact “tinned chilli” became “cans of chili” and “rucksack” is now “backpack.” But not only when spoken by Americans, but by Brits as well. So it’s back to the same old yankin’.

 

 

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One Response to “Yankin’ Rankin justified”

  1. Extreme Yankin’ | Coby Lubliner's Blog Says:

    […] the most recent example I cited (here) the practice seemed justified when the overly British speech by Americans in an Ian Rankin novel […]

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