Monday, 30 November 2009

Where the Welsh Things Are

Maurice Sendak's classic children's story 'Where the Wild Things Are' has been made into a movie and is released in the UK this week. I, like millions of other children, read this as a child. However, I will feel an extra level of betrayal to those who don't agree with the movie changes to the voices/plot/characters, because I read it initially in Welsh.

The welsh speaking characters in 'Gwlad y pethau Gwyllt' always felt closer, more special to me, in a way the characters in English books did not. Indeed, they may have been more dear to me literally - I discovered that my Welsh version of 'Where the Wild things Are' is a collectable now, selling for $450 dollars on Amazon! I should really try to find it...

It's not the first time this has happened. I remember seeing Superted in English for the first time (Superted was originally in Welsh), and feeling like he had abandoned Wales and the fight to 'achyb yr iaith' (rescue the language). I also remember being surprised that my English speaking friends also knew about Fireman Sam.

I wonder if other children around the world have been similarly confused. In the end, I guess I shouldn't have been that surprised that my childhood heroes were bilingual, but why did they never code-switch?

Talking of code-switching cartoons, I can't help including possibly the most complicated example of code-switching ever, from Disney's The Prince Of Egypt:

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