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Thread: U.S.A. Culture and Language Help

  1. #31
    SiriuslyMental
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amanda Vega

    There are about 280 students at Hogwarts (no matter how illogical it seems).
    Actually, there are 1000 students at Hogwarts. JKR said in an interview.

    I also don't think that Native American magic would be taught. Let's be realistic - magic is magic. From what we have seen, unless one is of a different species, all human wizards use wands and occasionally their hands for EXTREMELY small spells. There is always going to be wand-waving, cauldron boiling, etc. It's great to try and make the school unique, but even JK stuck to basic similarities between everything - we all come from different backgrounds, but our basic makeup is the same. All wizards are still wizards, and therefore it is highly unlikely that they perform different types of magic (or use anything but wands for casting), regardless of ethnicity or nationality.

  2. #32
    Snape's Talon
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    I would have to differ on that point. All one has to do is research skin walkers to understand that Native Americans would probably have had a different type of magic. Also of interest, Raven Mockers.


  3. #33
    cmwinters
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    I also have to disagree. By and large, Jo stuck to western Indo-European style of magic. What would happen in the Near East, the Far East, Africa, the Americas and the Pacific Islands is likely to be incredibly foreign to someone who only knows Western European magic.

    Jo said she envisioned 1000 students at Hogwarts but her math doesn't add up. (Sometimes her math doesn't add up so badly that it approaches nonsensical, and if she weren't such an absurdly wealthy woman, I'd fear for her checkbook!)

    As per usual, in the years since that announcement was made, the fandom has come up with a plausible explanation as for how that (1000 students at a school when we only ever see 40 new students introduced in a given year) would happen: changing birth rates.

    During a war time, for whatever reason you choose, birth rates tend to decline. Harry's year, and the years immediately ahead of and behind him, were affected by Vold War I, and because the British Wizarding World permits its women to fight (as opposed to making them stay home to have and raise the babies), there was probably an even more significant decline in birth rates for them during that period of time (to the point that they were no longer reproducing at sustainable levels, and nevermind the ones that were dying left and right because of the war). During the years between the Muggle World War II (which we know Grindelwald and the Dark Lord had a part in) and the buildup of Vold War I, there were probably significantly more students at Hogwarts, likewise I'd say there were probably many more children born between, say, 1983 and 1995 than were in 1971-1982. And it's also quite probable that there will be yet another "baby boom" in the Wizarding World starting around 1999/2000, lasting 20-30 years, and then an echo boom starting about 20-30 years after the first one before things settle down.

    So it's quite probable that Hogwarts has the capacity for *more* than 1000 students, and it's even possible that there were 1000 students there at any given point in Harry's time at Hogwarts, even if his particular year, the year ahead of him and the year behind him were much smaller.

    (I would like it noted for the record that the change in birth rates was not my theory originally; I read it not long after I came to the fandom and don't have a clue who came up with it, and no offense is intended to paraphrasing that essayists main points. It's a good theory, and it works.)

  4. #34
    SiriuslyMental
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    I don't agree with that, but it's really up to the writer to show how people do magic. Plus, it annoys me when writers try to hard to make their characters perform "unique" styles of magic according to nationality. The way I see it is that they are all humans - they should all do magic in at least a generally similar style. Maybe there are smaller things that set other cultures apart, but I don't see why a Native American or Asian wizard would be able to perform, say, wandless magic in large doses, just because of the Muggle culture's beliefs, when an Indo-European one cannot. That makes absolutely no sense. They are all the same brand of magical person, from different countries. Varying skill is normal and expected in communities, but an entire country being able to perform certain types of magic that others would find impossible? There is no logic there.

  5. #35
    Ghoul in Pajamas
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    How about the actual structure of the schools, not physical, but socially.
    I think American teenagers are a whole lot different than British teenagers. They are raised differently than British. British are raised according to British customs and traditions. Americans have a lot more variety and grow up with different cultures. For example, I am Irish, Norwegian, French, German, and Native American, and it's common for people to come from just as many different cultures. In the Wizarding World, it might be different, but I don't think so.

    Americans are probably less mature than British. At least most Bristish kids that I've met have been a whole lot more mature than most American teens. (Or maybe it's just the accent? )

    One thing I've always imagined about the American Wizards is that bloodstatus doesn't matter. When people immigrated to America they were mostly the underdogs/outcasts of the country. The Catholics immigrated from Britain after the Reformation and protestants fled from Catholic Spain. Religion has never been mentioned in the Wizarding Britain, but bloodstatus is very important. Where the Purebloods are powerful, the Muggleborns and even Halfbloods might go to America.

    Remember, these are boarding schools, so again I raise the dorms vs houses question.
    We obviously know of the Founders creating the houses so that they could choose the students they like, but I think that was a Hogwarts case. There might be other schools who have houses as well, but I don't think they all will. If you want to have houses, one angle you could use would be that a British wizard started the American school and followed what he knew at Hogwarts. But I think it makes sense to keep away from houses.

    The way dorms are done in American colleges is that the dorm houses have different names. Some have an entire group of dorm buildings that go together. Your school won't be as large as most Universities, so there won't be as many dorms, but you could have several. You could seperate them by grade or by girls and boys (though that's not very much fun). Most dorms are two-person dorms, with a community bathroom per floor, or one shared by two rooms.

    What would be some classes taught in American schools that wouldn't be taught at Hogwarts?
    I don't think it's so much that there would be different classes, but they would be taught differently. Muggle Studies would relate to American Muggles and History of Magic would be told from a different point of view. (Pick up an American history book and a British one, and see how different the stories for the same event are.) Magical Creatures class would focus on the creatures that are in America.

    What about trees native to the US, like redwood/sequoias?
    I love this idea!

    For one thing, the Native Americans didn't leave behind huge castles for us to use for magic schools. What could be used instead: a plantation, a ghost town, entire neighborhoods, their own Hawaiian island?
    A ghost town probably wouldn't be the perfect place to put a Wizard school, seeing as they usually become tourist spots. The Hawaiian Island might be done, or anywhere in the Caribbean, keeping it private and isolated. But I tend to think it would be in New England, New York area. This is where people first moved to and it seems likely that the Wizards would follow. I like the idea of the Village. It already has the feeling that I would expect to find in a magical area. There are so many small shops and little alleys that there could easily be a 'Leaky Cauldron' hidden that allows people into the Wizarding World. The only problem with that is that there is no place for Quidditch or Magical Creatures class. (Quodpot actually, in America.) I also liked the idea of keeping it hidden in a mountain range, and I would choose the Apppalaichan, as they are on the East Coast.

    --Kristen

  6. #36
    cmwinters
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by SiriuslyMental
    I don't agree with that, but it's really up to the writer to show how people do magic. Plus, it annoys me when writers try to hard to make their characters perform "unique" styles of magic according to nationality. The way I see it is that they are all humans - they should all do magic in at least a generally similar style. Maybe there are smaller things that set other cultures apart, but I don't see why a Native American or Asian wizard would be able to perform, say, wandless magic in large doses, just because of the Muggle culture's beliefs, when an Indo-European one cannot. That makes absolutely no sense. They are all the same brand of magical person, from different countries. Varying skill is normal and expected in communities, but an entire country being able to perform certain types of magic that others would find impossible? There is no logic there.
    Well, this is less of a plausibility issue than a presentation and research issue. I do think it's entirely plausible that an entire culture is able to do magic that another culture would find impossible, but there's a significant difference between an immature (not referring to age) writer doing this so that their Mary Sue is even more soopir extra speshul than she would have been otherwise, and another, more mature (again, this is not limited to age) writer either being intimately familiar with that culture either by circumstance or design, and making a plausible story out of it.

    For non-IE cultures, the foods aren't the same, the traditional practices (as far as how birth, death, birthdays, coming of age, whatever) aren't the same, the climate and surroundings aren't the same, the cultures are not the same. Why on earth would the magic be the same?

    Not to try to drag religion into a discussion where it really doesn't belong, but the argument "everybody prays the same way" holds about as much water as "everyone would do magic the same way" that is to say, none. Not even all *Christians* pray the same way as other Christians, nevermind their similarity (or lack thereof) to the other Abrahamic relgions (Islam and Judaism). When you factor in something with a completely unrelated background, such as Voudoun, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shamanism, or, say Ancient Egyptian worship, you end up with something so completely different that it bears almost no relationship to the others. In that vein, I can easily see how someone from a non-western-Indo-European culture could practice magic completely differently than what we've seen in Harry Potter.

    Even the wand or staff itself is of a fairly Mediterranean origin; it's seen in Ancient Egyptian culture and in the Odyssey, but not really much in other ancient cultures. So yes, I think it's quite entirely possible that there are entire cultures of magic users that don't use wands. Just not in Western Europe (or even derivative colonies thereof, such as Caucasians in the Americas or Australia). And as most of the fiction you see written focuses on peoples originating from the Fertile Crescent and the Med, then yes, most of them need to have wands for plausibility purposes.

  7. #37
    Wizengamot Ravenclaw
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    Even the wand or staff itself is of a fairly Mediterranean origin; it's seen in Ancient Egyptian culture and in the Odyssey, but not really much in other ancient cultures. So yes, I think it's quite entirely possible that there are entire cultures of magic users that don't use wands. Just not in Western Europe (or even derivative colonies thereof, such as Caucasians in the Americas or Australia). And as most of the fiction you see written focuses on peoples originating from the Fertile Crescent and the Med, then yes, most of them need to have wands for plausibility purposes.
    It does raise an interesting point, though. It is probably likely that American wizards DO use wands simply because of all the British influence on the country. But would other cultures effect American style magic. And for civillizations that don't use wand, what form of tool do you think the do use as a channel for their magic.

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  8. #38
    cmwinters
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    Quote Originally Posted by OliveOil_Med
    It does raise an interesting point, though. It is probably likely that American wizards DO use wands simply because of all the British influence on the country. But would other cultures effect American style magic. And for civillizations that don't use wand, what form of tool do you think the do use as a channel for their magic.
    It's not just British influence, you know. There are a lot of French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish and all manner of other European countries that were in the States and colonies before the major influx of immigrants started in about the late 1800s, to say nothing of the slaves that were brought here by force. But most second or third generation Caucasian Americans can claim at least some Western European heritage.

    As to your question, though, I think you're still thinking in the fairly narrow term of "wand used to channel magic because magic=point at something & cast spell".

    For someone pracitcing a shamanistic form of magic, I'd say they'd rely much more heavily on the non-wand-using Mind magics, as well as probably some potions. There's a great deal of emphasis in some indigeonous cultures about the spirit of animals, such as a totem or guide. So if a shaman wanted to kill someone, they could use their herbological knowledge to poison them, or they could perhaps become like a mental/spiritual animagus, and ambush their enemy.

    Voudoun is something that most Western Europeans and their descendants would consider "dark" magic due to the assumed prevalence of blood and death magic (typically thought to be accomplished with more-or-less brute force), although there are also some similarities in the original practices to Ancient Roman and Egyptian spiritual practices, where the spirits of the ancestors were expected to accomplish things for you. If this was your method of magic, you wouldn't use a wand to cast a Killing Curse, or a knife to slit their throat; you'd appeal to the spirits of your ancestors to smother them in their sleep, or something.

    In the Potterverse, we see very little traditional elemental sorcery; I don't know if that's because they aren't practicing it or some other reason, but you could have a particularly learned master doing things like literally moving mountains.

    There's also a lot of other magic we don't really see; we're hinted at blood magic (the charm Dumbledore cast on Harry after Lily's sacrifice), necromancy (Inferi), soul magic (Horcruxes, but the "how" doesn't go into much detail), the only real "talking to animals" magic that we see is limited to the descendants of Slytherin (and those possessed by same), we see limited possession, but that doesn't mean that *OTHER* cultures or groups aren't practicing those same things in explicit detail. There's also weather magic, which (unless my memory fails me, which is entirely possible) is entirely absent from the Potterverse, as well as some other, more adult-oriented things like the use of mind-altering substances (think the use of Peyote or even the "zombie powder" that contains a cocktail of some rather deadly poisons which, in a non-fatal dose, cause an altered state of consciousness)

    I wouldn't personally recognise east Asian or Polynesian magic & spiritual practices if they hit me in the head, so I'll leave that rather significant portion of the discussion to someone with something resembling a clue.

    You gotta think outside your box, there.

    Geographically, America's a pretty big country. Including Alaska and Hawaii, it's almost as large as the entire continent of Europe (which encompasses Iceland, part of what is now Russia, as well as everything west of and including part of the Black Sea and Turkey, and even part of Kazakstan and Azerbaijan). At a *bare minimum*, we know of three schools of magic in Europe (those being Beauxbatons, Durmstrang and Hogwarts). In fact, it isn't even stated that those are the ONLY schools in Europe, just that they're the top three. For that matter, the United Kingdom has a school basically unto itself, and the emphasis of instruction at Hogwarts is different than the emphasis of instruction at Durmstrang.

    Demographically, that huge hunk of Europe has about twice as many people as the United States, but I think it's unlikely there's only ONE magical school in all of the United States.

    So I'd say, Salem Witches Institute, which (in my opinion) is most likely to have been founded around the time of the European/English colonosiation of New England, probably has a curriculum somewhat similar to Hogwarts. However, if you were to have another school in, say, Alaska, I would think that would be MUCH more shamanistically oriented. One on Hawaii would probably have emphasis on Polynesian and Asian practices. And you could easily place a magnet school for the voudoun practioners in New Orleans or south Florida, all without making yourself seem ridiculous. You could probably throw another one on the mainland, if you were careful about it.

    But I don't think you could get away with having one in LA, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia, and Miami, you know, without really pushing your luck.

  9. #39
    Snape's Talon
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    According to the Lexicon, there are three other mentions of magical schools, two of which are in the United States.

    Students in the U.S. have their own school (source, SN - Southwest News interview with JKR)
    Q: Can American kids go to Hogwarts ? (Kelly)
    A: No, they have their own school. You'll find out in Book 4. Hogwarts just serves Britain and Ireland.

    The Salem Witches' Institute, U.S.A. (Goblet of Fire, chapter seven)

    A school in Brazil from which Bill Weasley had a penfriend (Goblet of Fire, chapter seven)


    cmwinters makes a good point in that there probably wouldn't be a large number of US schools, and the interview would seem to back this up - note that JKR used the word "school" as opposed to "schools". One could assume she was referring to the Salem Witches' Institute based on that comment.

    On the other hand, you should keep in mind the interview took place back in July 2000 and we all know JKR sometimes altered her view on things (Dumbledore's age and Grindelwald's imprisonment versus death, just to name a few).


  10. #40
    CCCC
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmwinters
    It's not just British influence, you know. There are a lot of French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish and all manner of other European countries that were in the States and colonies before the major influx of immigrants started in about the late 1800s, to say nothing of the slaves that were brought here by force. But most second or third generation Caucasian Americans can claim at least some Western European heritage.
    Something I've always been a little skeptical of. I've travelled somewhat in the US and met a fair few Americans, but while most claim heritage of a good half dozen places unless the immigration was within the last generation or two then I've never seen any real cultural differences, although this is purely anecdotal.

    There's also weather magic, which (unless my memory fails me, which is entirely possible) is entirely absent from the Potterverse,
    I think it is, I believe there was a MfM room dedicated to it.


    Geographically, America's a pretty big country. Including Alaska and Hawaii, it's almost as large as the entire continent of Europe (which encompasses Iceland, part of what is now Russia, as well as everything west of and including part of the Black Sea and Turkey, and even part of Kazakstan and Azerbaijan).
    I being pedantic, but it's worth noting that there is no definite 'Europe' it's entirely arbitrary where you draw the line.

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