Tag Archives: Peter Rabbit

The Tale of Peter Rabbit – In Galilean Aramaic

Yep, it’s finally going somewhere, but with some AramaicNT.org style, available to all site Supporters.

The Online Storybook is going to be awesome. Where Version 1 is going to be fairly straightforward with text and audio (and a full glossary so you can look everything up) Version 2 is going to be all done in Popcorn.js like the upcoming Conversational Galilean (GAL101) class. Like other “talking storybooks” it will highlight what words are being spoken as they’re spoken in both English and in Galilean.

I’m also hoping to get the printed book orders ready by the 15th so that there is a chance of getting some delivered before Easter, but at this point I’m not sure if that’s doable. eBook formats are also being worked on, including an iBooks version that tries to incorporate all of the functionality of the Version 2 Online Storybook, but that’s last on the list of priorities.

Anyways, watch that page for more info.


The Tale of Peter Rabbit in Galilean Aramaic: Hopefully by Easter

Where it looks like all publishing companies who have expressed any interest in The Tale of Peter Rabbit in Galilean Aramaic have also expressed regrets that it would be impossible to get published by Easter this year, I am now in the midst of planning to follow in the footsteps of Beatrix Potter, herself.

Not many people know that before Frederick Warne picked up Peter Rabbit as its official publisher that Ms. Potter had a private printing of some 250 books made to distribute to her family and friends. (Another neat tidbit was that among those who obtained a copy from that first run was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who bought a copy for his children.)

The first private printing was so popular that it ran out, so she had a second private printing of 500… which also quickly ran out.

Now, since there have been a significant number of individuals who have contacted me, asking when it’ll be ready for purchase, I don’t wish for them to be disappointed.

As such, an initial “private” first edition of 250 seems to be just about right with hope it’ll be just as popular. 🙂

This week I’ll be dedicating to editing the manuscript and compiling the glossary, and once those two things are taken care of, I’ll be setting up some means for pre-ordering.

If all goes well, I’ll also be able to reach my goals for affordability, as children’s books in ancient languages “ain’t cheap.” The Little Prince in Syriac goes for nearly $30 (yikes!), where Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in Latin goes for $25.

Peter Rabbit on the other hand (and with much negotiation on Ms. Potter’s part) originally sold for a shilling. In modern currency that’s roughly $10 (depending on how you calculate it) so I figure that $10 is a good enough price to shoot for. If it’s not affordable, why bother?

In any case, wish me luck and there’ll be more news on this front soon. 🙂


Aramaic Peter Rabbit: Warne & Co’s Copyright Bluff

So today I heard back from Warne, one of the publishers I sent The Tale of Peter Rabbit in Galilean Aramaic to. Also also of note, they were the book’s original publisher…

(Well in truth it’s second publisher. They originally rejected Peter Rabbit when Beatrix Potter threw the idea in their way the first time, but reconsidered when they saw a self-published run, of ~250 copies, that she was distributing to her family and friends.)

Anyways, I had sent them a prospectus with all of the details of the project and the workbook I’m putting together for it asking if they were interested in publishing it themselves. They forwarded me to their editing department, and then a number of days later I received this:

From: Stefan.Davey@[…….]
Subject: FW: The Tale of Peter Rabbit in Galilean Aramaic w/Study Guide
Date: February 12, 2011 5:20:03 AM EST
To: [Steve Caruso]

Dear Steve Caruso,

Thank you for your enquiry regarding translation rights to “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”.

Unfortunately Frederick Warne does not publish or distribute local language editions, instead we license the rights to local language publishers who translate and manage the distribution process of their own editions within their territory.

If you know of a publisher or an academic press that is interested in publishing a Gallilean Aramaic edition using yourself as the translator, please pass on my details. The licensing of the translation rights for a retail edition can then be discussed but royalties are payable on the retail price of the edition. Alternatively, if the translation is to be used for academic purposes a permission licence may be granted for a one off fee.

If you wish to apply for a permission licence, please send an email to the following address: [the address]@uk.penguingroup.com. You will receive an automated response containing an permission application form. Please complete the form and return it to the same email address.

Frederick Warne & Co. is the owner of all rights, copyrights and trademarks in the Beatrix Potter character names and illustrations. Translations of the works must not be published or used in any context without the prior written consent of Frederick Warne.

Kind regards,

Stefan Davey – International Rights Director
Warne, Ladybird & BBC Children’s Books
Tel: [number]
Fax: [number]
Mobile: [number]

You can probably see right off the bat how I, as a trained Librarian, the course of whose study is to understand copyright and public domain issues was a bit more than irked.

If you don’t, please allow me to explain how the above email: Where it is seemingly professional, it is a bluff.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit was originally publicly published in 1902 and Warne failed to properly register its copyright with the United States. Over 100 years later, any copyrights that could have been secured have more than expired under US Copyright law and as such, the entirety of The Tale of Peter Rabbit is in the Public Domain.

However, this has not stopped Warne from obtaining Trademarks associated with the Peter Rabbit series, including the phrases “Peter Rabbit,” “The Original Peter Rabbit Books,” “Peter Rabbit’s” (for materials of the formula “Peter Rabbit’s X”, etc.) for items from cookies to toilet soaps.

They also own Trademarks on two several images including:

The image of Peter Rabbit running on the cover of the book (at the top of this entry).

(In court documents, Warne claims that their customers associate this above image with their firm as much as Mickey Mouse is associated with Disney. However, hardly anyone in America knows who Frederick Warne & Co. is. Americans certainly associate it with its author Beatrix Potter, though.)

And the line drawing of a coney from the title page. (Which I personally think is ridiculous, as no one associates those images with Fredrick Warne [or “Fredrick who?” I’m asked when I’ve discussed this with dozens of others unfamiliar with this issue]; they associate them with the author Beatrix Potter.)

Interestingly enough, they do not own the Trademark to “Peter Rabbit Farms” as that Trademark is owned by Peter Rabbit Farms, Inc. in reference to fresh vegetables.

Warne, however, does not hold a Trademark that would prevent the publication of the original The Tale of Peter Rabbit or a derivative book such as my translation (provided that I do not use either any of their Trademarked images).

Especially since this has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt through the courts. In Frederick Warne & Co. v. Book Sales, Inc., 481 F. Supp. 1191 (Southern District of New York, 1979) we find them admitting that, “Warne concedes that the seven works [in question, one of which includes Peter Rabbit] are in the public domain.”

So in essence, where I made an inquiry about their company publishing my work, their representative answered a very different question in a carefully-worded manner so that I would be of the impression that I need a license from them for rights they do not own.

Don’t get me wrong, they are 100% correct when they state, “Frederick Warne & Co. is the owner of all rights, copyrights and trademarks in the Beatrix Potter character names and illustrations. Translations of the works must not be published or used in any context without the prior written consent of Frederick Warne,” as they *do* hold copyright to Beatrix Potter’s works that *are not* in the Public Domain (such as The Tale of Little Pig Robinson), but note how they don’t mention Peter Rabbit by name in this declaration.

Very deliberate.

I’m now waiting to hear back from two more publishers on this matter, so we’ll see if something can still be arranged for in time for Easter.


Peter Rabbit Almost Done

So, recapping what anyone might have missed: I’m in the middle of translating The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter into early Galilean Aramaic, typeset in a printed form of Herodian script in an effort to provide reading material for my young daughter as she learns the language, herself. My students at DARIUS have also taken a liking to it and it seems to have some novelty appeal.

At this point, I nearly have all of the text of the original book completed with just a few of the most lengthy pages remaining. I have also made very minimal use of coining phrases to express modern ideas. Huzzah!

However, the most interesting question that I am facing now is, “Who would be interested in publishing this?” which I must admit is quickly followed by “Forget that, who could I possibly ask to edit or review this?” 🙂

It does pose quite a problem. How many people would have the necessary experience, let alone be willing to take the time to edit or review such an odd endeavor in preparation to submit a manuscript to a publisher?

I’d also love to have someone to chew over some quandaries I’ve had together, such as, “Would rav or mar be more appropriate as Mr. MacGregor’s title?” and “What do other people think about how I’ve rendered the occasional onomatopoeia?” or “In the greater context, do any of these issues actually matter?” 🙂

In any case, once it’s in a presentable form I’ll post here again with an update. Then, onto some self-editing and making some further decisions about orthography before figuring out where to go from there.