Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Originality is not his strong point

Benjamin read somewhere (in her little biography at the end of the 4th Harry Potter book) that JK Rowling started writing stories at age six.

"Wait a minute," he said. "I'm six! I'd better start writing!"

"It's never too soon," I told him and off he ran to his bedroom with a paper and pencil.

We didn't hear from him until we called him back out for scriptures and prayer. He came out proudly carrying a freshly written story and asked me to read it.

"Harry Potter is midway through both his training as a wizard and his coming-of-age. He wants to get away from the pernicious Dursleys and go to the Quidditch World Cup," I read.

"Pernicious!!?" Andrew said, nodding approvingly. "That's my boy!"

"Wait. You think he wrote this?" I asked Andrew. "The fact that our six-year-old used (and spelled) the word 'pernicious' correctly didn't raise any red flags for you? He didn't write this. He copied it from the back of the book!"

"But that's piracy!" Rachel spluttered, but when Andrew and I started laughing she had second thoughts about her word choice. "I mean...that's something that sounds similar to piracy and has a similar definition to piracy but which is not piracy. It'''s...plagiarism!"

"That's the word!" I applauded.

Andrew later said he thought perhaps Benjamin had just been reading some Fancy Nancy books or something. Pernicious, after all, is simply a fancy word for terrible.

But, no. He simply copied JK Rowling's words down verbatim. Mimicry is the highest form of flattery, is it not? He is working on his own writing as well, but it just comes with practice.

He came home from school a few weeks ago singing a song called Old Mother Witch. He wrote down all the words on a paper and even carefully drew some music notes (asking me what a whole note looks like and what a half note looks like).

"Can we add this to our ukulele book?" he asked.

"We would have to learn the chords for it," I told him.

"Oh, it's just all on C so it's super easy," he told me. "We did it at school."

"Then perhaps we can," I told him.

Later that same evening he asked me how to spell "text" so that he could write, "Text by Benjamin" at the bottom of the paper so that he could "submit it to a spooky hymn book."

"The problem with that is that you didn't really write the song, did you?"

"Well, I wrote this copy," he said, dangling his paper in the air.

"You did," I said. "That's called a transcription."

"What do you call a person who does a transcription of something?"

"I guess in this case you were like the...scribe," I said.

"Great!" he said, and at the bottom of his paper he wrote, "Scribe: Benjamin."


  1. Ahahaha!!!! So much piracy, and just before Halloween!

  2. Aww, Scribe: Benjamin is cute! Seems biblical. :)