Post by Dorothy J Heydt Post by Kevrob Post by Chrysi Cat
To be fair, half of all people of any nationality born in 1982 would
have no idea what "sealing a document" is.
I think more of my age-peers (I'm about the same age as the translators,
and graduated HS in '95) _didn't_ understand the line in "Puff, the
Magic Dragon"--which remember was still very _much_ making the
"children's song" rounds in '85, than did, and wondered why you'd ever
be waxing a ceiling! Didn't help that since it never showed up in, say,
an "Amelia Bedelia" book, we had no way of knowing we had the wrong
homophone until we stumbled across mention of a wax-sealed document
sometime deep into our college classes, and usually by means of a
history class they could legitimately never have even audited. This
isn't a "gaijin screw-up"; this is a "too young screw-up", unless I'm
When I was a kid I watched the film made from Twain's
"The Prince and the Pauper."
A plot point revolves around The Great Seal of England.
The "Errol Flynn version" is only one of several that have
been filmed. Besides SF, I loved costume dramas with
action and daring-do. Seals on documents and letters
came up often.
Of course, I first heard "Puff" in the 60s, as it was
released just after I turned 6. "Sealing wax" caused
no problems, but if a child born a quarter century later
didn't care for stories about "the olden days," I could
see how they might be confused.
And if they'd read _Alice_ or had it read to them, would they
understand the reference to "shoes and ships and sealing wax"?
As my parents would have said, "If you don't understand a word
or phrase....well that's why we have dictionaries and encyclopedias."
And, nowadays, search engines!
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
I remember the preface to the edition of _Alice_ that I had as a
child, mentioning the caterpillar with the hookah, "but if you
had never seen a hookah and very few caterpillars, you might
think that that was what they usually did." Though the Tenniel
illustration is reasonably informative.
Post by Kevrob
In Jackson's "The Fellowship of The Ring," Gandalf is
shown sealing an envelope* containing the One Ring with
Now wait a minute. Gandalf never had his hands on the Ring until
he borrowed it from Frodo to throw it into the fire.
In the film, Gandalf has Frodo place it in the envelope, which
he seals. He never touches the metal, though he came very close.
Later, Frodo retrieves the sealed envelope in from trunk,
whereupon Gandalf snatches the paper and tosses it in the fire...
..then, when the paper burns away, he uses the fireplace
tongs to hand it to Frodo.
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Perhaps you meant "sealing an envelope containing a message
concerning the Ring"?
Post by Kevrob
* And isn't that an anachronism? Did the Elves have Staples?
Believe me or believe me not, envelopes (and stationery stores
where you could buy them) existed before Staples.
On the other hand, I don't know when the use of envelopes to
contain letters came in. Before that, the letter itself would
have been folded up and the wax seal applied to keep it from
being opened by unauthorized personnel in transit.
Here's some comments on both seals (including before wax seals,
which depended on the availability of paper) and envelopes.
The one in the film looked machine-made, which would be
mid-19th century tech.
Paper envelopes were developed in China, where paper was invented by
2nd century BC. Paper envelopes, known as chih poh, were used to store
gifts of money. In the Southern Song dynasty, the Chinese imperial
court used paper envelopes to distribute monetary gifts to government
Prior to 1845, hand-made envelopes were all that were available for
use, both commercial and domestic. In 1845, Edwin Hill and Warren
De La Rue were granted a British patent for the first envelope-making
Perhaps that is what hand-made paper envelopes looked like?
I shopped at an independent stationers as a boy. The one in
my home town had a huge paperback section, and when I was a high
school debater I bought my evidence files, 4" x 6" index cards
and various other accoutrements there.