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Bianca Gomez

Professor Johnson

Writing 2 ACE

11 June 2017

Property Damage

While taking this Writing 2 class I learned that all genres have their own writing

conventions. Doing this assignment allowed me to see how the conventions of a topic can

completely change when translated into a different genre. For my project, I decided to take the

nursery rhyme, The Three Little Pigs, and translate it into a legal document—a Release for

Damage to Property. A release or settlement is a document signed in exchange for money given

to a person after an accident involving damage to the person or their property. I chose this

specific translation because I aspire to be an attorney someday. I wanted to see what it would

look like to translate something fun and childlike into something that could be found in the legal

field. I thought about my favorite stories as a child that could have legal consequences, so I

decided that the scene in The Three Little Pigs where the wolf blows down the house of straws

would be perfect. Because a Release for Damage to Property is common in the legal field, I

thought it would be the best way to capture the gravity of the situation. Translating the story into

a different genre required me to change the tone and language of my primary source in order to

appeal to a new audience. I also had to incorporate and omit information that was or was not

necessary for the purpose of the legal document.

The main things that changed when I translated into a new genre were the audience, tone,

and language. I had to switch from an audience of children to an audience of adults. The story of

The Three Little Pigs is short and entertaining, and it uses easy vocabulary, repetitive phrases,
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and closes with a happy ending. All these genre conventions are meant to appeal to children.

When I was addressing a new audience, the purpose was no longer to entertain. Instead, the goal

of the legal document was to emphasize the consequences of the wolf’s actions. It laid out the

cost for all the damages to the house, whereas the children’s story overlooked these details.

Communicating with an adult audience led me to change the tone and language, such as jargon in

my writing. Because I translated a children’s nursery rhyme into a legal document, I used a

precise, clear, and somewhat threatening tone. Unlike the children’s story, the legal document did

not have a happy ending; instead it highlighted the seriousness of the situation by requiring

signatures from both parties and witnesses to the signing. While translating into a new genre, I

encountered some challenges, one of them being that I needed to familiarize myself with legal

terms like “Releasor” and “Releasee.” This was important for me to know that the Little Pig was

the Releasor and the Big Bad Wolf the Releasee. Mixing up these terms would have led to

consequences for the pig instead of the wolf.

To translate my primary source into a new genre, I also incorporated new information

that was not mentioned in the children’s book. For example, I created a home address for both

the Little Pig and the Big Bad Wolf. In the beginning of the nursery rhyme, we learn that the

mother pig has sent the three little pigs out into the world to seek their fortune. So, I decided that

the street where the pigs decided to build their houses would be called Fortune Road. I named the

street in which the wolf lives Evil Road because of his wicked and devious nature. Although

home addresses were not necessary for the children’s story, they were crucial for the purpose of

the new genre because it was needed to hold the wolf accountable for his actions. To include new

information, I also had to imagine what happened after the wolf blew down the house of straws. I
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imagined that the Little Pig had to pay someone to remove the debris left from the demolished

house and that he would need materials to rebuild his house and money to pay for it all.

I also added the signatures of both parties and the witnesses. This was a fun process

because I had to imagine what their individual signatures would look like based on the

information provided in the story. None of the signatures look alike because they are unique to

the characters’ personalities. Since the Little Pig built his house of straw because he didn’t want

to work at all, I decided that he would have messy handwriting to match his lazy personality. He

uses regular print writing and doesn’t bother to make his letters the same size. In this way, I

wanted to show that he is an idle pig who doesn’t like to put in more work than he has to.

Similarly, the wolf is a bit careless with his signature. His signature doesn’t even sit on the line

but instead floats above. His letters also have sharp edges to signify that he has an aggressive

personality. I decided that the witnesses to the signing would be the other two little pigs. The

second Little Pig who built his house of sticks, although somewhat lazy too, was more artsy with

his signature. He curved the ends of his letters and wrote a bit more neatly. However, none of

these signatures compared to that of the third pig who built his house of brick. His signature was

very fancy. It was evident that he had dedicated time into practicing his signature. His signature

matched his personality as he was more mature and harder working than the other pigs.

Surprisingly, I was able to convey the purpose of the legal document without mentioning

some of the main details in the story. For example, I left out that there were two other pigs and

that the wolf intended to eat them. I was able to omit this information because generally, a

Release for Damage to Property is between the two persons involved, and it only requires details

relevant to the damage. In the legal document, I didn’t mention what the author of “Ten Ways to

Think About Writing,” Shelley Reid, describes as the chorus of the story. She tells us that “the
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chorus is crucial for audience awareness because it’s often the first (or even the only) part of the

song the listener learns and can sing along with” (12). I was able to leave out the chorus of the

nursery rhyme, “not by the hairs on my chinny chin chin!” because the purpose of the new genre

was no longer to keep its readers engaged, but instead to communicate that there are

consequences to our actions. I also left out the part where the pigs boil the wolf and eat him for

supper because otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to charge the wolf for the damage he caused to

the pig’s property. It was also important that I leave out this information because in the legal field

boiling someone alive and eating them would have worst consequences than damaging their

property would. Like Scott McCloud says in “Writing with Pictures,” “Your story’s moments

should be like a dot-to-dot puzzle. Remove one dot and you change the shape of the story.” With

this, he tells us that our story should make sense even when we leave out certain details. If it

doesn’t, then it’s necessary that we include that information. I was able to omit the details I

mentioned above because they weren’t necessary to include for the purpose of the document.

The only things I mentioned from the original story were the ways in which the

characters were referred to as “Little Pig” and “Big Bad Wolf” and that the pig’s house of straws

was destroyed because of the wolf’s huffing and puffing. The main similarity between both

genres is that they teach the same lesson. The Three Little Pigs tries to teach children the

importance of working hard (although it took the third pig longer to build his house of bricks, the

wolf couldn’t blow it down because it was stronger), and it teaches them right from wrong (that’s

why the bad wolf gets punished at the end). Similarly, the Release for Damage to Property makes

it clear that there are consequences to our actions.

With this genre translation, I hope to show that anything, even fun writing, can be

translated into a completely different genre. Translating a children’s nursery rhyme into a legal
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document required me to change the tone and language and to incorporate information that was

not mentioned in the primary source. These changes in writing conventions were necessary for

the children’s story to appeal to an older, more sophisticated audience. From this experience,

now I understand that different audiences have different needs, and as a writer I need to address

them all appropriately.
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References

McCloud, Scott. “Writing with Pictures: Clarity, Persuasion and Intensity.” New York: Harper,

2006. Print.
Reid, Shelley E. “Ten Ways to Think About Writing: Metaphoric Musings for College Writing

Student.” West Lafayette, IN: Parlor Press, 2010. Print.
"The Three Little Pigs." Short Stories and Classic Literature. Web. 15 May 2017.

<https://americanliterature.com/childrens-stories/the-three-little-pigs>.