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New Year’s resolutions

I’m not a big one for resolutions. (Ever notice how many people say that?) I think this may even be the first year I’ve consciously made one. It’s not very exciting but if I don’t write something I’m never going to shift this writer’s block – which could quite fairly be called non-writer’s block by now.

So my resolution is this:

Study German for 30 minutes every day.

Yes, after living in a German-speaking environment for 8 years I have finally run out of both good reasons and poor excuses for putting it off. Study German every day… so far I’ve only missed one. Of course, my idea of studying isn’t necessarily something that would delight a college professor.
I’m actually reading Harry Potter.
Reading a book you love and know almost word for word is a surprisingly effective way of not getting bored whilst learning another language. In the past, I’ve used this technique for Spanish (Lord of the Rings) and Danish (Pride and Prejudice, and some Terry Pratchetts). Obviously you do have to have a certain level to start with – I’m borderline B1/B2 in German, and that’s definitely good enough for this.

So far I have learned that the German for “pale” is “blass”. Which seems wrong, somehow. There’s a sickly, bloated feeling to that word (to me, as a native English-speaker, you understand) that is not necessarily attached to the word “pale”. But at least I’ll remember it now.
I’ve also learned that either German has some rather odd set phrases, or the translator didn’t always quite get it. See, when Harry is telling himself “don’t rise” in response to Aunt Marge’s taunting, I doubt that the German for that is “don’t stand up”. I don’t know what it ought to be either, of course. Something fishing-related, perhaps? Which is one reason I don’t translate into German. The other reasons are that my German grammar is non-existent, and more importantly that you should never translate on a professional level into something that isn’t your mother tongue unless you are genuinely completely bilingual, which is much rarer than you might suppose.

Any rabid Harry Potter fans (people after my own heart!) may now be thinking: That’s all very well, but the real question is, why are you beginning your German Harry Potter endeavours with book three?!
To which the answer is: because that’s the one I own in German. Because it happens to be my favourite. It has Professor Lupin in it. What’s not to like about that? But don’t worry, dear reader. I’ve borrowed a copy of PS from a youthful friend, so will henceforth be proceeding in the correct order.

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Theories about Pottermore, part 2

(Click here for part one)

The Engineer: Pottermore? That’s a rubbish name.
Me: Oh?
TE: Potter and more? Rubbish. She must have some reason for picking that ending.
Me: Hmm…..

Two minutes later, I had discovered that Google unhelpfully does not allow you to put a * before a syllable to indicate all words ending in that syllable. It must have some other way of doing this. But Wikipedia does! And typing in “*more” brings up various interesting things.

The first interesting thing I found was Canmore.

Canmore is an online database maintained by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. It contains information on 240,000 archaeological sites, monuments, and buildings in Scotland.

The words in bold are my theories there. No, I don’t think JKR is going to provide us with a Harry Potter database. But an encyclopedia is kind of like a database, right? And JKR has been known to refer to her encyclopedia as “the Scottish book” on her website (look under FAQs to find it)

Now, why is Canmore called that? Well, I couldn’t find out for sure (leave a comment if you know!) but a strong likelihood is that it is named after two kings of Scotland, and their descendants. The name means Big Head in Gaelic. Evidently in Gaelic you put adjectives second, because it’s actually cenn that means head, while mór means big (as in claymore, big sword). Shame, because the name Potterhead (in Gaelic) would be very appropriate for a fansite. However, the name is actually Big Potter – if I’m right that the reference is to Scottish Gaelic, of course. Big Potter could mean just about anything but it would definitely be appropriate for an encyclopedia.

So that’s Theory One.

Theory Two is simpler (I think). Lots of towns in the English-speaking world are called something-more. Aviemore, for instance. (Here, the more is still often from the same Gaelic root as before) So Pottermore is Pottertown, so it’s a forum-type thing, or possibly an RPG. I would like it to be this because it’s more fun for the kids who missed out on the amazing and sadly now-defunct Godric’s Hollow rpg, but I would prefer it to be the Encyclopedia because that would be way more interesting for me. And would also mean that maybe the reasoning behind my first theory – a reasoning I haven’t seen anywhere else yet – was right.

But whatever it ends up being, I’m grateful to JKR for giving us all the excitement of the wait and the chance to theorise one more time. Thanks Jo!
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Theories about Pottermore

Pottermore? That’s a rubbish name.

Thus quoth my husband upon hearing of the excitement surrounding J.K.Rowling’s newest gift to her fans. But before going further I should explain I came to consider myself a fan of this book series, rather than just an avid reader.

When J.K. Rowling’s sixth and seventh Harry Potter books had not yet come out, and I was an unemployed expatriate stay-at-home-mother-to-be, I used to go on an internet forum where we would theorise about the clues JKR might have left for us in the books already written, and try to work out what might happen next. Might Remus Lupin end up with Nymphadora Tonks? Would one of the Weasley family die – and if so, which one? Were Ron and Hermione meant to be, or was that just a distraction from the real Harry-Hermione romance? (In case you’re wondering, yes they were, and no it wasn’t.) And other, deeper questions as well – of course I don’t remember those!

Before joining that forum, which I came across by accident through MuggleNet, I had read the books at face value. They were a good read to pass the time and I loved the references to real mythology (I still can’t get over the American publishers’ changing the title of the first book to “HP and the Sorcerer’s Stone”, when there is no such thing as a sorcerer’s stone, whereas “the Philosopher’s Stone” actually has historical meaning. Tch.) But the New Clues forum gave a new depth to the reading – as well as helping pass the time while my husband was at work! You can only do so much cleaning in one house. Seeing that so many of the clue-based guesses turned out to be right in Book Six got me even more interested. If you don’t quite see how that could be a worthwhile way to spend my time, let me ask you this: do you enjoy murder mysteries? If you do, you can probably see that trying to guess before the author tells you is quite compelling, and getting it right can be a kick for someone like me who doesn’t drink or do drugs. 🙂

Anyway, all of that is in the past now. I made some good online friends through it, developed my critical thinking skills (and conspiracy-seeking skills, most likely!) and generally had a great time. And as a full-time mother of two, I don’t miss it, most of the time.

But now, there is Pottermore. What is it? We don’t know. We’ll find out on the 23rd… which means JKR has once again given us the chance to create wild, inventive, crazy, highly unlikely theories about what is going to happen. Alongside perfectly reasonable, plausible and accurate ones. I’d like to think that my theory, which I will discuss in my next post here, falls in the latter category, but we shall see!
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Deathly Hallows

I loved it. Now on my first reread.

spoilers here

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My book arrived!

Yay! Soon I’ll be able to read what you’ve all been up to again. 🙂
Vixx and Emma, hope you’re untouched by the floods.

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As I won’t have the book at the same time as all of you, I will try not to check on LJ until after I’ve read it… not sure when it will arrive, I guess some time next week.

Have a good weekend everyone, enjoy the release parties! 🙂

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Driving and umbridge

I got told off for not saying owt about Umbridge in my last post, so… I thought Imelda Staunton was brilliant. Perfectly evil. But I also thought that she should have been uglier, because Harry thinks Umbridge looks like a toad before he actually has any reason to resent her, it’s his first impression – whereas film!Umbridge looks like a perfectly charming lady until she does something nasty.

Anyway. On to the main event of my life at the mo’: driving lessons. I’ve had six so far (3 doubles) and I love it! Which is weird. I always thought I’d hate driving. So far the only thing I dislike is having to slow down and look carefully before turning onto another road if I don’t have priority. Of course I always look anyway but at least if I have priority it’s not quite so panic-inducing. Ok, this is mainly because I’m not very good at quick starts yet, so I guess it will be better soon. Oh I also dislike overtaking. But I love changing gear. 🙂

We are going away for the weekend tomorrow morning, to Como in Italy. My sister speaks good Italian and can interpret for us if necessary, and The Engineer has never been to Italy so this will be another box ticked. I’ve been to Italy loads of times and am feeling a bit meh about it because it’ll be hot and the baby will be there and it’s money and time I could be spending on driving lessons. But anway – at least if I’m not expecting much, I can’t be disappointed when we get there.

P.S. did you see Bloomsbury have said they have no reason to believe any of the HP leaks so far are accurate? But I still don’t want to be spoiled just in case.

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potential spoiler if anyone hasn’t seen the film yet

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