26 June 2007

Divided by a Common Language While Clubbing

Clubbing, by Andi Watson and Josh Howard, is a Minx graphic novel published in the US but set in rural England. (See yesterday's posting for how I found myself an owner and then reader of a preview copy.)

For the benefit of the comic's American readers, page 4 offers the following announcement, in the voice of the teenaged heroine from London:

"The coppers have nicked my corned beef hash and Yorkshire puds and bogged off down the motorway."

Don't have a clue what I'm talking about? Consult my Lexicon on pages 147-149 to translate English slang into fluent American.
Only problem is that three-page glossary doesn't contain entries for "coppers," "corned beef hash," or "motorway." There is a full explanation for corned beef hash inside the comic. However, since the American equivalent is "corned beef hash," I'm not sure why that was presented as an example of a British term needing translation.

The lexicon does include such opaque Britishisms as "Butlins" (old-fashioned holiday camp), "top herself" (commit suicide), and "Wellies" (rubber boots). There are also useful cultural references: Glastonbury, F1, Ruskin. (I suppose the closest Yankee equivalents to those would be Woodstock, NASCAR, and Emerson.)

But the Clubbing lexicon also includes several terms that, while they have their roots in British culture, should be familiar to most Americans: bedlam, bonkers, namby-pamby. And there are a few terms that aren't particularly British at all, and appear in any dictionary: septuagenarians, compost, frock.

Meanwhile, the glossary doesn't include several true Britishisms that appear in the comic, such as:As for Clubbing as a comic, I didn't find it anything special. The graphics seemed to be at the level of the better TV cartoons. The story: Londoner moves to English village, stumbles into sinister happenings, discovers that the roots of that evil lie in what seems most quaint.

If you want to see that plot played out for far more laughs, action, and emotion, I heartily recommend the movie Hot Fuzz.

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