Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Rest of Accio

When we last left our story, it was thirty minutes until The Feast and it was pouring down rain. Luckily, however, the rain slacked off so it was merely drizzling rather than pouring. So, I made my way to The Feast.

Our first course, the soup, was served Hogwarts Style, that is to say, in large pumpkins. Really. Somewhere, somehow, they had found large pumpkins from which to serve our soup, rather in the style of gourd-like tureens. We next had fairly substantial shanks of lamb accompanied by roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, carrots, and green beans. For our desert, we had some type of caramel-meringue thing.

After coffee and tea, we had the evening’s keynote speaker, Steve Vander Ark, a children’s librarian from Michigan, whose claim to fame is the creation of the Harry Potter Lexicon, an all-encompassing Harry Potter super site referred to not only by Potter fans, but also JK Rowling and Scholastic (the American publishers of the series). Following the speaker was the auctioning of the signed copy of the sixth Harry Potter book. As I posted earlier, it went for £530.

The residence hall in which we were staying had one of those LED moving message boards at the Porter’s Desk. Each time we passed by, there was a group of people standing and watching the messages scroll by. Rather than simply having totally irrelevant notices, the weekend porter kept making up and posting all sorts of Harry Potter-type messages, including, ‘Will the delegate with the invisibility cloak please stop scaring the ghosts,’ and ‘Snape elected President of the U.N.’ The thing was, each time we went by, there were not one, not two, but seven or eight new messages to read.

The next morning, I went to two sessions. First was the session titled, ‘Splinched in Translation: A Translator’s Perspective on the Tricky Business of Rendering Harry Potter in a Foreign Language,’ led by Gil Bar-Hillel, the translator of the series into Hebrew. It was really interesting. One example she gave of the difficulties in translating the Harry Potter books was related to the wordplay that Rowling uses. In the books, Dumbledore uses a pensieve to allow others to experience peoples’ stored memories. According to some (but remember, the Harry Potter fan world is filled with people who disagree), the word pensieve is a combination of ‘pensive’ and ‘sieve.’ That’s fine in English, but not Hebrew. After quite a bit of consideration (indeed, not until the final proofreading), did Bar-Hillel finally come up with the Hebrew word ‘hagigit’ – a combination of the words ‘hagig,’ meaning ‘rumination,’ and ‘gigit,’ meaning ‘tub.’

Tim Reagan, a researcher for Microsoft, led the second session I went to. The session was called ‘How Statistics and Computer-based Visualizations Contribute to Out Understanding of Harry Potter,’ and was about his research into using statistics based on the earlier books to help predict things in the final one.

After that, I went and played Muggle Quidditch. Okay, I was really there only to provide first aid in the event of an accident, but I ended up playing. It was really quite fun! The instructions should be available in a week or two and, when they are, I’ll post them.

After Muggle Quidditch, we headed in for our final meal before heading back to the train station. All told, it was really a rather nice weekend.


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