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Old 02-18-2012, 10:25 AM   #1
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US or UK English?

I need some help here.

I've putting together all of Jack London's work into ePub as we are completely missing them in this format but I'm a bit confused of what would be the correct original version of English to use.

My orginal source material from Project Gutenburg for White Fang seems to be using British English, but a scanned copy on Archive.org from 1914 appears to be using U.S. English.

So, does anyone know what would be the correct one to use as I'd like to make it as close to what Jack London originally wrote.
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Old 02-18-2012, 11:32 AM   #2
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Try to find at least snippets from early editions in Google Books. I find at least two issues of the Outing magazine, where it was originally published.
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Old 02-18-2012, 02:29 PM   #3
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It may be a long shot but try searching for "colour"... It's the British spelling.

This may also be of some use: http://www.textfiles.com/fun/brittish.txt
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Old 02-18-2012, 02:49 PM   #4
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So, does anyone know what would be the correct one to use as I'd like to make it as close to what Jack London originally wrote.
Since Jack London was an American, and his stories were usually (always?) first published in American magazines, I suspect that American spellings are probably best.

But you have now come across the nightmare of all publishers - how to choose the best text to publish.
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Old 02-19-2012, 09:18 AM   #5
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Try to find at least snippets from early editions in Google Books. I find at least two issues of the Outing magazine, where it was originally published.
Thanks for this.

I've been looking but can't seem to find any for 1905, must be my crappy searching ability. I'll keep trying.
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Old 02-19-2012, 09:26 AM   #6
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It may be a long shot but try searching for "colour"... It's the British spelling.

This may also be of some use: http://www.textfiles.com/fun/brittish.txt
Thanks. Interesting file, but there are a few mistakes in it and some of the British English equivalents are no longer relevant for contemporary use. Still interesting though.

I'm not sure what relevance it has for my original posting though, but thanks anyway.
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Old 02-19-2012, 09:34 AM   #7
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Since Jack London was an American, and his stories were usually (always?) first published in American magazines, I suspect that American spellings are probably best.

But you have now come across the nightmare of all publishers - how to choose the best text to publish.
This was my assumption, but seeing as I ran into a similar issue with my Lovecraft books (He's an American, but all the early text I could find used British English), I was wondering if I was making an error.

I've always wondered when American English came into common use, If I could find out, I'd have an idea on the prefered lexicon to use for any more books I make.

I think I'll use American English on all of his books, this will have at least consistancy, even if I've chosen the wrong one.
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Old 02-19-2012, 10:56 AM   #8
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I've always wondered when American English came into common use, If I could find out, I'd have an idea on the prefered lexicon to use for any more books I make.
American spellings became fixed with Noah Webster's "An American Dictionary of the English Language", first published in 1828.
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Old 02-19-2012, 11:11 AM   #9
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Hmm... the first publication of "The Call of the Wild" was in Canada in 1903. There's a copy at archive.org: http://www.archive.org/details/callo...lust00londuoft

OTOH, White fang was first published in the US in 1906. There's a copy of that at archive.org as well: http://www.archive.org/details/whitefang1906lond

As well as many other versions.

And, of course, there may well be errors in the first editions that were corrected in subsequent editions.

I can highly recommend archive.org as a source of first (& subsequent) editions for books printed before 1923.
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Old 02-19-2012, 11:40 AM   #10
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Now that is annoying, the earliest version I found on that site was from 1914 - and it's the one I'm proofing against.

I did mention I had crappy searching abilities, this just proves it. I was on the site with one from the year of publication and didn't even notice it. I'll use this version and go over the book for one last proofing before posting it here. That one also has illustrations in it, I'll do some checking on them, but suspect they will most likely be safe to include as well.

Thanks pdurrant, for this and also with Webster's dictionary, any books by American authors from around 1828 and upwards that I can't find an early enough version of the text, I'll probably consider it as being American English now.
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Old 02-20-2012, 05:59 AM   #11
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Being original is not always helpful. I am a fan of John Buchan books, but there are darn few Americans that know anything about Sister Anne, Sister Anne. It is a reference to looking for or awaiting something in the very gory fairy tale Bluebeard.
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Old 02-20-2012, 07:58 AM   #12
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It's not just Americans with that reference, I'm English and that one meant nothing to me. Had to google it to find out about it.

The point of what I'm trying to do is not to create a book that everyone can read and immediately understand everything in it, but to create a copy as close to the original text as possible so as to preserve it for future generations to read.

Almost none of the books on this site were orginally written in contemporary languages of today, therefore to fully appreciate the original book, you need the original text.

As time goes on later revisions will come out with language more understandable to the prospective reader. This is also good as it allows you to grasp the content quicker.

I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with the modernised versions of older books, but if you loose the original, you will never truly understand where it came from.

That's why I'm trying to produce books as close to source as possible. Others will produce versions more contemporary, and they're fine too. I personally have several copies of books which are based on the original versions and more modern ones that are easier to read.
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Old 02-20-2012, 10:29 AM   #13
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Note that the "original" doesn't always mean what the author wrote, but has a good deal of what the editor, publisher and printer thought was correct. It was not unusual (I don't know if it is nowadays) for an author to pay little attention to spelling and punctuation, that was the editor's work after all.

It also could happen that some American authors or editors in the 1900's wanted to use what we call today British spelling. At least, it looks possible to me.
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Old 02-20-2012, 10:57 AM   #14
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Note that the "original" doesn't always mean what the author wrote, but has a good deal of what the editor, publisher and printer thought was correct. It was not unusual (I don't know if it is nowadays) for an author to pay little attention to spelling and punctuation, that was the editor's work after all.

It also could happen that some American authors or editors in the 1900's wanted to use what we call today British spelling. At least, it looks possible to me.
This is all true. Even more so back in the days when typesetting was a skilled job, and the typesetters might well 'correct' things as they went along.

There's a bit in the Hobbit introduction, when Tolkien mentions how in the first proofs the typesetter had helpfully corrected all instances of 'dwarves' to 'dwarfs'.

Sometimes a subsequent printing might be closer to the author's intentions. But there you need to do research into correspondence between the author and the publishers, and if you're really lucky, find corrected proofs.

Probably a bit much for a free edition. Best left to professionals doing 'definitive' editions.
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Old 02-20-2012, 01:20 PM   #15
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I'd really like to be able to produce the book that is as the author intended, but as you've said this is a free edition and I'm not doing this as a job (I'm an IT Test Engineer), so this is probably beyond my ability to do.

So for the time being, I'll take the earliest know published version to be the original. And if someone can produce a different version and show the evidence that their text is the authors original, I'll rename mine to being only the original publication, not the authors true version.

Until then, I'll mark it as the original publication with a disclaimer that it might possibly be different from what the author intended.

For this particular book (White Fang), I'll be explaining that this is the earliest version I've been able to dig up and that the orginal publication was a serialised version in Outing Magazine.
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