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

  1. #51
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    "Butter wouldn't melt in his mouth" is a phrase I associate with the WWII generation - my mother would say it (Canadian) , and so would my mother in law (American). It goes along with such phrases as "smiling like a cat in cream" and "letting the fox in the henhouse". Maybe it is more rural? I'm not a big Soprano's fan, so I can't speak to that.

    I used a variation of the phrase "if wishes were horses beggars would ride" (in the HP universe that would be "if wishes were thestrals beggars would fly"). My beta reader, who is in her teens didn't pick up on the reference, although her parents apparently did when she asked them.

    Its not a very modern phrase, but the HP universe is not a very modern universe, is it?

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  2. #52
    Vault713
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    There really isn't any set school system in America so it gets complicated

    Firstly, what age must you be to start school? Is there a certain date that you have to turn that age by? (I.E. here, you have to turn six before the 31st of July to start grade one)

    most students start in Kindergarten which you start when you are 5 or 6. There is a cut off date but it's different depending on where you live. However almost all elementary schools offer it.

    Do you have a mandatory/volantary prep or preschool year?
    Like I said most students start with Kindergarten which is mandatory only in some places. Also kids can go to PreK which would help get them ready for Kindergarten but it is completely voluntary.

    I also don't really get the whole 'middle school' thing. Explain, please.
    Middle School a.k.a. Jr. High is different everywhere you turn the most common set up is
    Elementary- K-5
    Middle- 6-8
    High-9-12

    or

    Elementary-K-6
    Jr. High- 7-8
    High-9-12

    but there are many, many differentiations of this

    How old are you when you graduate?
    typically 18



    hope this sums everything up

  3. #53
    Vault713
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    Butter Melt Your Mouth

    I don't know the origin of the phrase however I think it would definitely stick out in a modern day conversation.

  4. #54
    Wizengamot Ravenclaw
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    What do you guys think some American wizarding swear words would be? I know in Britain, it is always 'Merlin this' and 'Merlin that', but I almost feel like this would be more of a British expression.

    What do you guys think some swear words among the American wizarding population would be?

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  5. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by OliveOil_Med
    What do you guys think some American wizarding swear words would be? I know in Britain, it is always 'Merlin this' and 'Merlin that', but I almost feel like this would be more of a British expression.

    What do you guys think some swear words among the American wizarding population would be?
    Hmm, I think you're looking for 'epithets'. Swear words imply profanity, and it doesn't seem like phrases such as 'Merlin's beard' et cetera are profane so much as on the same plane as 'OMG'.

    That being said, this one might be tricky. The Merlin epithets were based upon mythology of ancient England, which can neither be substantiated nor disproved. America as we know it doesn't really have an ancient mythology, as Euro-Americans didn't arrive until the 16th century.

    That means that any of these would almost have to be Native American. Wizard Native Americans would certainly have been able to hide themselves from the slew of white men to take their land, so chances are, most newly arrived white settler wizards would know very little about this native culture. It just seems unlikely that, after seeing what happened to the Muggle natives, the wizard natives would expose themselves to either Muggle settlers or wizard ones.

    However, the witch trials could be a source of these. Maybe 'Sweet Salem!' or 'by the Stake!'

    I'm not sure if that was very helpful, but it's the first thing that popped into my mind when you asked the question.
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  6. #56
    Inverarity
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    Quote Originally Posted by ToBeOrNotToBeAGryffindor
    That being said, this one might be tricky. The Merlin epithets were based upon mythology of ancient England, which can neither be substantiated nor disproved. America as we know it doesn't really have an ancient mythology, as Euro-Americans didn't arrive until the 16th century.
    Wait, what? America has no ancient mythology? How about the mythology of the people who lived there before Europeans arrived? I know you didn't mean it that way, but writers especially should be very wary of sweeping statements to the effect of "America didn't exist until white people discovered it."

    However, the witch trials could be a source of these. Maybe 'Sweet Salem!' or 'by the Stake!'
    That would be seriously unlikely and in very bad taste.

  7. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inverarity
    Wait, what? America has no ancient mythology? How about the mythology of the people who lived there before Europeans arrived? I know you didn't mean it that way, but writers especially should be very wary of sweeping statements to the effect of "America didn't exist until white people discovered it."
    Then you obviously missed the latter half of my post. I said no such thing.


    Quote Originally Posted by Inverarity
    That would be seriously unlikely and in very bad taste.
    And religious people consider use of 'OMG', 'JC', 'WTH', and 'GD' as in very bad taste, yet it is still done. I fail to see where propriety comes into play with most epithets, not just religion and culture-based ones.
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  8. #58
    Seventh Year Gryffindor
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inverarity
    That would be seriously unlikely and in very bad taste.
    Why exactly would that be?

    Witch trials are something that definitely influenced wizarding culture but, as we know, never really harmed witches/wizards. And then a great deal of pureblood wizards don't seem to care about Muggles (who were harmed in the witchhunt), so no one would think that "Sweet Salem" would be in any way offensive. Of course, some witches and wizards would disapprove, but as Jess already said - some people have issues with "WTH" too, and still a lot of people say it.

    The Salem witch trials might have some greater historical background in the wizarding world - in a way, perhaps, they signify a (probably) rare contact between Muggles and Witches/Wizards, and so they are remembered just for their significance - not with any moral judgement behind that.
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  9. #59
    Inverarity
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    Many profanities do originate in pious expressions. But "Sweet Salem!" or "By the stake!" aren't based on expressions of piety. It would be akin to a Jew saying, "Holy gas chamber!"

    Making up cute expression to put in the mouths of fictional characters that treats actual historical events in a cavalier fashion risks being offensive if you don't think about the implications.

    Witch trials are something that definitely influenced wizarding culture but, as we know, never really harmed witches/wizards.
    Actually, in Tales of Beedle the Bard it is stated that some actual witches were killed during the witch trials. So canonically, they were harmed. Now, you could argue that very few were affected and therefore most witches and wizards wouldn't care, but if you have them making up epithets like "By the stake!" then you're still depicting wizards as treating historical incidences of torture and persecution as a joke.

  10. #60
    Seventh Year Gryffindor
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inverarity
    Many profanities do originate in pious expressions. But "Sweet Salem!" or "By the stake!" aren't based on expressions of piety. It would be akin to a Jew saying, "Holy gas chamber!"
    First of all, to some religious people, "Hell" is as real as the Salem Witch Trials and the gas chambers, so I don't see how piety or not makes this a possibility.

    Also (and I hope this won't come across in the wrong way) if anyone has the "right" to say something like that, it's the group of people who can be seen as victims in the historical context.

    Perhaps Salem to witches and wizards is a sign of warning that they shouldn't reveal their powers carelessly, and also a sign of their joint survival, or something like that.

    And anyway - it is, as you said, fiction. These are merely suggestions, and I agree with Jess - it's rather unlikely that the European settlers took too much of the Native American myths/wizarding culture before they slaughtered the natives.

    And since it is fiction, you can just make up your own background behind the saying, and give it a context in which it works. For example - perhaps during the witch trials, a famous wizard fell in love with a Muggle who was going to be burnt, and he saved her, so, tada, Salem is sweet.
    I know that this was lame; I just wanted to put the idea out there that we don't know anything about HPverse American wizards in that time, and that you can just come up with your own stuff... and then there might not be a need to get upset at all.
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