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  1. #1
    Walt Whitman is offline Member
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    Default Oscar Wilde, "The Canterville Ghost"

    English teacher

    The following is another simplified version of a well-known short story. It’s Oscar Wilde’s “The Canterville Ghost”. I’d like to know if the present simple used for narrative and storytelling sounds fine to you. To tell the truth, I don't feel comfortable with the sentences I have underlined.

    The Otis family are from the United States and they are the new owners of Canterville Castle. They have got four children: Washington, Virginia and the twins. “This is your new home,” Mr Otis says to his children. “Ohhhhh!” the twins repeat. “It’s very big! Is there a ghost?”“Oh yes,” their father replies. “The ghost is very famous!
    Simon de Canterville, the ghost, sees the Otis family. “Oh no,” he thinks. “CHILDREN in my house! I hate children. They are silly and noisy… and afraid of ghosts!”
    At midnight Simon makes a horrible face and goes to the twins’ bedroom. “OOOHH… AAHHH” says the ghost. But the twins sleep soundly!
    “AAHHH” shouts the ghost again. “I am Simon de Canterville… the terrible ghost!”
    “We know, we know,” yawn the twins. “But we want to sleep now. Go away, Mr Ghost!”
    The next night the ghost puts chains on his wrists and goes to Mr and Mrs Otis’s bedroom. “CLANG, CLANG, CLANG!” The chains make a terrible noise! “Wake up!” he shouts. “I am the ghost of the castle!”
    Mr Otis opens one eye and says, “Oil your chains, please. We can’t sleep!”
    Simon de Canterville is furious! On Saturday night he puts on a suit of armour and goes downstairs. “CLONK, CLONK, CLONK!” The Otis family hear the noise and run to the hall. “What’s this noise?” shout the children at the ghost. “We are children, you know. We have to sleep!”
    “AAHHHH,” yells Simon de Canterville. The ghost waves his arms to frighten the children but falls down the stairs with a crash!
    On Sunday the ghost takes his ghost black cat Fritz to the twins’ bedroom. It’s a bad cat with big teeth and long claws. “MEIAOO,” says Fritz. “AAHHH,” says the ghost.
    “HA, HA, HA!” laugh the twins. The terrible twins throw cold water over Fritz. “MEIAOO,” screams the cat and runs away.
    On Wednesday the ghost puts on a big red hat and cloak and goes to Virginia’s room. “AAHHH, AAHHH,” he shouts. “Oh dear,” says Virginia. “Have you got a stomach-ache? Poor Mr Ghost. Have this medicine. It’s very good!”
    Simon de Canterville is very sad. “These people are not afraid of me.” He sits down and cries because the ghost inspector arrives tomorrow to check whether Simon is a good ghost.“We must help the ghost,” says Virginia. So, when the inspector ghost is in the attic, Simon walks downstairs. “OOOHHH, AAHHH,” he shouts.
    “Help, help,” scream the Otis family and run and hide. “Here is the terrible ghost again!” The inspector is very pleased with Simon. “Excellent!” he says. “This family are really afraid. You can stay in this castle.”
    That night there is a big party at the castle. There is the Otis family and Simon’s friends and they live happily ever after!

    Thank you very much.

    WW
    Last edited by Walt Whitman; 25-Nov-2013 at 19:53.

  2. #2
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Oscar Wilde, "The Canterville Ghost"

    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Whitman View Post
    English teacher

    The following is another simplified version of a well-known short story. It’s Oscar Wilde’s “The Canterville Ghost”. I’d like to know if the present simple used for narrative and storytelling sounds fine to you. To tell the truth, I don't feel comfortable with the sentences I have underlined.

    I don't like it. But I think that if you have to use the present tense, you're stuck with those two lines.
    You could change "arrives tomorrow" to "is due to arrive tomorrow", but the present tense serves for the future anyway.
    What would your solution be to "That night, there is a big party"?

  3. #3
    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Oscar Wilde, "The Canterville Ghost"

    Couldn't you change it to is (due/set) to arrive the next day? I don't see why you have to use tomorrow because you're using the present tense- we know it's a past narrative.

  4. #4
    Walt Whitman is offline Member
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    Default Re: Oscar Wilde, "The Canterville Ghost"

    I don't like the present tense either, Raymott. But I have to use it because my students (aged 12) do not know the past tense yet.
    As to "That night, there is a big party", I think I'll leave it there as it is.
    Tdol, I'll follow your suggestion (and Raymott's). "The ghost inspector is due to arrive the next day" seems perfectly satisfactory to me.

    That said, do you feel my simplified version sounds natural to native speakers? I'm asking because in Italy we've got a lot of books which provide enjoyable reading in English. British and American classics are usually retold or adapted by natives in graded language stages. When they are designed for beginners, then the simple present is the prevalent tense. That’s what I’ve done with Wilde’s short story.


    Thanks a lot.
    WW

  5. #5
    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Oscar Wilde, "The Canterville Ghost"

    I'm more relaxed about the present tense than you and Raymott- it doesn't jar with me.
    Last edited by Tdol; 28-Nov-2013 at 11:39. Reason: are -> and

  6. #6
    Walt Whitman is offline Member
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    Default Re: Oscar Wilde, "The Canterville Ghost"

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    I'm more relaxed about the present tense than you are Raymott- it doesn't jar with me.
    Hi Tdol
    I was wondering if your comment on Raymott's post was also an indirect answer to mine (4)?

    WW

  7. #7
    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Oscar Wilde, "The Canterville Ghost"

    Ahem, I meant you and Raymott.

  8. #8
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Oscar Wilde, "The Canterville Ghost"

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    Ahem, I meant you and Raymott.
    It's possible that neither of us noticed your typo. I'm sure he's referring to:
    "That said, do you feel my simplified version sounds natural to native speakers?" from #4. Is your comment on my post an indirect response to that question? Personally, I read it as a direct and obvious response to the question.


  9. #9
    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Oscar Wilde, "The Canterville Ghost"

    Yes, it was meant as a response to Walt's question.

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