06 June 2007

Divided by a Common Language around The Silver Child

In his online summary of The Silver Child, British author Cliff McNish writes:

Six children leave the comfort of their homes far behind. They are drawn to Coldharbour--an eerie wasteland of wind, rats, seagulls and rubbish tips.

Emily and Freda, the twins, scuttle bright-eyed and insect-like in search of the others. They find Thomas half-starving on a food tip.
Rubbish what? A food what?

What British call a “tip” is what Americans call a “dump.” The origin comes from the same act: it’s where people tip/dump their rubbish/garbage. Similarly, a “dump truck” is a “tipper” when the steering wheel’s on the right.

Harder to explain is why an American “Dumpster” (a brand name obviously derived from “dump”) has the British equivalent of a “skip.” And why what young Thomas is doing to survive on that “food tip”--Americans might call it “Dumpster diving”--is called “totting” in Britain. But them’s the terms.

It looks like the editors at Carolrhoda caught on to those lingual differences. The US edition of The Silver Child speaks only of dumps.

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