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Old 08-26-2015, 02:47 AM   #1
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Brontė or Bronti?

I'm preparing Harriet Martineau's Autobiography for the MR library, and checking against a pdf version of the 1877 Smith, Elder and Co. edition.

That edition consistently has Charlotte Brontė as Charlotte Bronti (i with the umlaut). I've not been able to find any other source using Bronti as the surname. Should I change the spelling to Brontė?

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Old 08-26-2015, 02:53 AM   #2
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No. If that's what the author wrote, leave it.
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Old 08-26-2015, 03:39 AM   #3
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No. If that's what the author wrote, leave it.
We may never know what the author wrote. Whatever is printed might have been, if not a mistake, a conscious choice of the author, a reflection of different conventions at different times, or the evil doings of some ignorant/pedant editor or typesetter.

Even if we are sure the author wrote something, it was (is?) often the case that authors didn't try to get it "right", expecting others to fix the spelling, punctuation, typesetting, etc.

In this particular case, if the spelling is consistent, and considering the origin of the name, I'd probably leave it as "Brontļ", maybe with a note.
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Old 08-27-2015, 04:36 PM   #4
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I had a look at this edition of Martineau's autobiography: it is also dated 1877, but evidently for the US market, and published by James R Osgood and Company, of Boston.

The references to Miss Brontė are on page 324 of the book (335 of the pdf).

Here it is a curious fact that the "i" at the end of her name has no dot at all - and certainly not a double dot as AlexBell has found in the Smith, Elder edition.

And now, putting on my pedant's hat, if there are two dots on the "i" in that edition (I couldn't find it), that would be a diaeresis rather than an umlaut (see here), as in the normal spelling of Brontė.

It would hardly be necessary on an "i": it's there on the "e" to show that her name has two syllables.

Last edited by Araucaria; 08-27-2015 at 04:37 PM. Reason: further thoughts....
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Old 08-28-2015, 06:25 AM   #5
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I had a look at this edition of Martineau's autobiography: it is also dated 1877, but evidently for the US market, and published by James R Osgood and Company, of Boston.

<-- snipped -->
Thanks for the reference. As it happens I also decided to check that edition of the Autobiography - from the Online Library of Liberty site - and found a spelling of the name as Brontė - with the e and the umlaut. But I'm afraid I didn't note the location. So I've decided to use Brontė in the Autobiography even though in the English edition the name is spelt with an i and two dots.

Funny how an author can spell a name one way in one edition and a different way in another edition.
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Old 08-28-2015, 08:12 AM   #6
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Funny how an author can spell a name one way in one edition and a different way in another edition.
Almost certainly not the author but the typesetters. Typesetters were expected to correct typos and errors as they went. (Consider that the typesetters of The Hobbit in the 1930s took it upon themselves to 'correct' all instances of dwarves to dwarfs in the first galleys!)
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Old 08-29-2015, 01:43 PM   #7
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Almost certainly not the author but the typesetters. Typesetters were expected to correct typos and errors as they went. (Consider that the typesetters of The Hobbit in the 1930s took it upon themselves to 'correct' all instances of dwarves to dwarfs in the first galleys!)
Which gives me a chance to quote my favourite Tolkien story, after the typesetters also corrected his "nasturtians" to "nasturtiums".

Here's a Tolkien letter:

"..... But nasturtians is deliberate, and represents a final triumph over the high-handed printers. Jarrold’s appear to have a highly educated pedant as a chief proof-reader, and they started correcting my English without even referring to me: elfin for elvin, farther for further, try to say for try and say and so on. I was put to the trouble of proving to him his own ignorance, as well as rebuking his impertinence. So, though I do not much care, I dug my toes in about nasturtians. I have always said this. It seems to be a natural anglicization that started soon after the ‘Indian Cress’ was naturalized (from Peru, I think) in the 18th century; but it remains a minority usage. I prefer it because nasturtium is, as it were, bogusly botanical, and falsely learned. I consulted the college gardener to this effect:

‘What do you call these things, gardener?’
‘I calls them tropaeolum, sir.’
‘But, when you’re just talking to dons?’
‘I says nasturtians, sir.’
‘Not nasturtium?’
‘No, sir; that’s watercress.’

And that seems to be the fact of botanical nomenclature…"

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Old 02-02-2016, 05:21 AM   #8
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Almost certainly not the author but the typesetters. Typesetters were expected to correct typos and errors as they went. (Consider that the typesetters of The Hobbit in the 1930s took it upon themselves to 'correct' all instances of dwarves to dwarfs in the first galleys!)
I've just found this thread again. In Harriet Martineau's Biographical Sketches there is a footnote to the effect that the author we know as Charlotte Brontė signed her letters and financial dealings as Charlotte Bronti, (with umlaut), but since the family gravestone uses Brontė 'this must be considered the established spelling'.
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Old 02-02-2016, 05:26 AM   #9
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I've just found this thread again. In Harriet Martineau's Biographical Sketches there is a footnote to the effect that the author we know as Charlotte Brontė signed her letters and financial dealings as Charlotte Bronti, (with umlaut), but since the family gravestone uses Brontė 'this must be considered the established spelling'.
Fascinating. A good clue to how the family pronounced their name.
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Old 02-03-2016, 05:45 AM   #10
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Fascinating. A good clue to how the family pronounced their name.
However a better clue comes from researching the Church records for the father of the Bronte sisters - Patrick.

CCED gives :

Quote:
Adm. sizar at ST JOHN'S, Oct. 10, 1802. S. of Hugh [Prunty], farmer, of Emdale, Co. Down, Ireland. B. there Mar. 17, 1777. [In the parish Register the name occurs as Brunty.] ' Matric. Michs. 1802; B.A. 1806. Ord. deacon (London) Aug. 10, 1806; priest (London, Litt. dim. from Salisbury) Dec. 19, 1807. C. of Hartshead, Yorks., 1811-15. P.C. of Thornton-le-Dale, 1815-20. V. of Haworth, Yorks., 1820-61. Married Maria Branwell, of Penzance, Dec. 29, 1812. Author, Cottage Poems; Maid of Killarney, etc. Father of the famous Brontė sisters. For some account of him see D.N.B., sub Charlotte Brontė. Died June 7, 1861, aged 84.
Which indicates the original family name in Ireland as Brunty.

All the census and baptism records I have found for the children show simply Bronte, however this may be because of the person recording the event.

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Old 02-03-2016, 05:50 AM   #11
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All the census and baptism records I have found for the children show simply Bronte, however this may be because of the person recording the event.
Did they ever call themselves "Bronte", rather than "Brontė"? You can't just ignore the diaeresis (ie "ė" rather than "e"); it's what makes the word two syllables rather than one! "Bronte" would be a one-syllable word with a silent "e" on the end.
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Old 02-03-2016, 07:17 AM   #12
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Did they ever call themselves "Bronte", rather than "Brontė"? You can't just ignore the diaeresis (ie "ė" rather than "e"); it's what makes the word two syllables rather than one! "Bronte" would be a one-syllable word with a silent "e" on the end.
First of all one of my hobbies is genealogy so I looked at this from that point of view. Apologies for using the abbreviation CCED - that's the Clergy of the Church of England Database and there are details there of Patricks ordination and appointments.

All Patrick's ecclesiastical records show Bronte, he was baptised as Brunty and his father was Hugh Brunty Names morph over time and I would imagine that when Patrick arrived at Cambridge the spelling Brunty became Bronte, though he still pronounced is as one syllable - Brunty.

I have not had the opportunity to examine the originals of his daughters' baptism records, just their transcriptions. Unusually (as the incumbent) he would be in the position to control how his name was recorded in the records and it appears he was content with a simple "e" at the end, however if I can source an image of the original Parish records that might show something different.

Perhaps later the use of the "ė" commenced as people were expected to pronounce the name as they saw it written, rather than the earlier "write what you hear" approach.

I have just checked the image of the 1851 & 1861 censuses and there the name Bronte has some form of diacritical mark over the final "e". In both cases transcriptions into machine readable text miss out on this mark.

In 1841 the final "e" is unadorned in Patrick's name and his daughters Emily Jane and Ann (each being written in full and not "dittoed" as so often happens).

I think what is more significant is the change from the "u" in Brunty to the "o" in Bronte.

The change from a "y" to a "ė" looks to be an attempt to convey a pronunciation but to disguise the more "earthy" origin of the name, the reference to an umlauted "i" also seems to point in this direction.

We will never know just how they referred to themselves in terms of how they spoke, all we can do is examine the records over time and interpret them. What is clear is that the literary sisters name is and will ever be Brontė.

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Old 02-03-2016, 07:33 AM   #13
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Thanks, Bob - that's very interesting!
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Old 02-05-2016, 02:54 AM   #14
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.........
All Patrick's ecclesiastical records show Bronte, he was baptised as Brunty and his father was Hugh Brunty Names morph over time and I would imagine that when Patrick arrived at Cambridge the spelling Brunty became Bronte, though he still pronounced is as one syllable - Brunty.
.........

The change from a "y" to a "ė" looks to be an attempt to convey a pronunciation but to disguise the more "earthy" origin of the name, the reference to an umlauted "i" also seems to point in this direction.
...........


BobC
I assume just there you mean "two syllables", Bob? I don't see how Brunty could ever be pronounced as a single syllable.

I'm sure you're right about the perceived earthiness of "Brunty". Our Victorian relations really didn't seem to like being reminded of their agricultural roots. I lived near the South London area now called "Peak Hill": the 1818 map shows it as "Pig Hill".

And I find it curious that the words "gentrify" and "gentrification" weren't used until the 1960s, given the longer history of the phenomenon.
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Old 02-05-2016, 05:37 AM   #15
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I assume just there you mean "two syllables", Bob? I don't see how Brunty could ever be pronounced as a single syllable.
Ooops - yes.

I also came across a reference that the family was also known as "Prunty". There is also a suggestion in a Wikipedia article on Patrick that he admired Horatio Nelson, one of whose titles was "Duke of Bronte", Bronte being a town and Duchy in Sicily.

This BBC item from 2005 gives an independent view of this name change :
http://www.bbc.co.uk/bradford/cultur...e_nelson.shtml

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