B is for Booger

Why-You-Shouldn-t-Eat-Your-Boogers-and-Other-Useless-or-Gross-Information-9781585426454Child 1 has a new friend with whom he has a lot in common. They both live and go to school over here in Pennsylvania, but they were born in England to an English Dad and a Scottish Mum (not the same ones – just to be clear!). I don’t think they are friends solely on this basis, but they did wholeheartedly agree with each other the other day on the matter of the word booger.

They don’t like it.

The most direct British equivalent seems to me to be bogey, but I have to express a personal preference for plain old snot. These are three pretty funny words when you start thinking about them. Bogey, my limited and unscientific research suggests, is derived from bogeyman, which maybe comes from very old stories about scary bog men rising up out of peaty bogs. Booger on the other hand, might have the same origin, or might be a corruption of bugger – in the sense of ‘get out of there, you wee bugger’ I suppose. Snot, though, seems to come from Middle English and be related to the word snout. That makes sense.

Anyway, when I was thinking about boogers I came across the book shown above and had a look at it on Amazon.com

And I asked myself what the title would be if the book was on sale in the UK:

“Why you shouldn’t eat snot”, maybe?

Or “Why you shouldn’t pick your nose and eat it” perhaps?

But translation, as life, is not so simple. Here is the cover of the same book (and yes, I have ‘looked inside’ and checked):


What does that suggest to you? Not only are boogers not mentioned – there is no sign of any kind of snot in this book! Even the subtitles are quite different:

US – “and other useless and gross information about your body”

UK – “everything you ever wanted to know about the human body – and some things you’d rather NOT know”.

Now I know that book covers are very often different in the US to the UK, but this is a major title change. What does it imply? That British kids don’t eat snot?

Seriously? My experience says otherwise.

And is it just me or do the UK book title and subtitle seem a little prissy? As if British boys and girls are more intellectual and less earthy than their American counterparts. The author, I found out, is British.

I wonder which book came out first and how these titles were chosen…


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