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Old 11-09-2019, 05:12 AM   #1
RobertDDL
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Boots’ boots, or Boots’s?

I’m editing a public domain book - The Citadel of Fear, by Francis Stevens (Gertrude Barrows Bennett) - in which the protagonist is called Boots, “the nickname being probably derived from the enormous pair of cowhides in which the young Irishman had essayed desert travel.”

In the text, at least the version that’s available to me, the genitive of Boots is written Boots’: “Boots’ eyes lighted appreciatively,” etc. Am I right in thinking that this is wrong, because, while “boots” is plural, the name Boots is singular, and therefore, as with Chris’s or Jones’s or Tess’s eyes, it should be Boots’s, or am I mistaken? Thank you for helping a non-native speaker out!
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Old 11-09-2019, 09:24 AM   #2
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The rule is that if it's pronounced Bootses then it's Boots's, but if spoken Boots, it's Boots'
Also another rule is that apostrophe use is also decided by custom or the owner of the brand, hence in UK "Currys" even though it was Curry's Cycle Shop or something like that in the 1920s.
There are some other exceptions
"Eats Shoots and Leaves" is poor value if you are good on apostrophes as it's nearly 1/3rd of the book. However, I recommend it. Available as hardback, paperback and ebook.
I have the Kindle & Hardback.
R. L. Trask's "The Penguin Guide to Punctuation" is also excellent and the author provides it free from his University web site.

Neither fully covers punctuation to do with dialogue, but you should own and read both.

I'd also recommend "The Elements of Style", I have the 4th Edition. Some points only apply to USA.
Finally "Essential English" by Harold Evans.

The most important thing is consistency. Some aspects of spelling vary with time (pairs of words get a hyphen and then become a compound word) or place (USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia, India (some provinces are over 90% native English speakers), UK (though usage can vary with Wales, Scotland East, Scotland Borders, Scotland West and Western Isles as well as N.I.). English in Ireland, especially outside the Pale, is influenced by Irish even among those that don't know Irish at all.
English usage should be by origin of characters and setting, not published country. A Kenyan may speak perfect British English and some USA ethnic groups would be incomprehensible to a Kenyan, Irishman or English man.

So I'd write Boots' as I'd say Boots, not Bootses.

Boots is also the title of two kinds of servants, a boy in Pre 20th C. big house in Britain that looks after shoes and boots and later perhaps anyone in a hotel doing the same. Not a plural when it's a name or title.

P.S. Maybe also get the Penguin Dictionary of Abbreviations. I've added on title page that there are four styles for time of day:

7 pm – Common and what I use, as I'm not in the USA.
7 p.m. Chicago & AP style guide, American.
7 AM – full size capitals
7 AM – small capitals, I don't now how to type that here.

The Penguin book by Rosalind Ferguson indicates US and UK usage.

Final point:
In formatting or editing a Public Domain work, it's normal to keep the usage of the author and only correct obvious OCR or typesetting errors.

Last edited by FrustratedReader; 11-09-2019 at 09:33 AM. Reason: P.S.
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Old 11-09-2019, 09:51 AM   #3
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Final point:
In formatting or editing a Public Domain work, it's normal to keep the usage of the author and only correct obvious OCR or typesetting errors.
+1 for everything FrustratedReader said, but especially this.
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Old 11-09-2019, 12:28 PM   #4
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Thank you for the extensive reply!

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Originally Posted by FrustratedReader View Post
Final point:
In formatting or editing a Public Domain work, it's normal to keep the usage of the author and only correct obvious OCR or typesetting errors.
In this case, though, as often, I do not have access to the first edition (this had been in serialized form in a pulp magazine), and even less to the author's manuscript or typescript - so, all I have is a text that has already gone through at least two previous editing processes (or three, if you include the OCR proofreading), which may have modified the author's original text.

(Also, though I know it's considered to be objectionable, I treat dead authors the same way that I treat living ones whose texts I edit - that is, I ask them about what seem to be issues to me, and they usually either say something like "oops, that's been a mistake," or "I haven't really thought about it and don't care, do it one way or the other," or, "yes, this was definitely deliberate, don't dare to change it." With dead authors, of course, this dialog just happens in my head ...)
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Old 11-09-2019, 01:22 PM   #5
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No, it's absolutely not the same editing dead author's text as a living one:
1) It's already out
2) They can't agree about changes
3) Readers who read it or have it on paper have reasonable expectations.

Gutenberg and Fadedpage teams both have it right. You do not change author's intent or make it better. Only totally obvious errors of transmission as I explained in last post.

Of course as it's public domain, you can do what you like. Expect howling readers with pitchforks and torches if you "improve" or "correct" the author.

Erring on the side of NOT changing is best.

Formatting / layout has more flexibility, especially for ebooks, which reflow.

One reason that Publishers change fonts, layout and commission new illustrations is that the overall book has then a fresh copyright, though the text itself is in the public domain. Facsimiles of original editions are thus rarely done by publishers.

OCR errors and typesetting errors are pretty clear to an experienced proof reader.
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Old 11-09-2019, 02:05 PM   #6
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Expect howling readers with pitchforks and torches if you "improve" or "correct" the author.
I've been doing it for 10 years now, and so far no reader has come after me with a pitchfork, even though I confess to what I'm doing in an "About this Edition" introduction to each book. To me, there seems little purpose in either copying or emulating what Gutenberg has already done, well enough by their own standards, so I'm doing my best to offer something different.

It's happened throughout the history of publishing, of course.

Kent.
I thought the King had more affected the Duke of Albany then Cornwell.
Glou. It did allwaies seeme so to vs, but now in the diuision of the kingdomes, it appeares not which of the Dukes he values most, for equalities are so weighed, that curiositie in neither, can make choise of eithers moytie.

KENT
I thought the king had more affected the Duke of Albany than Cornwall.
GLOUCESTER
It did always seem so to us: but now, in the division of the kingdom, it appears not which of the dukes he values most; for equalities are so weighed, that curiosity in neither can make choice of either's moiety.

(I'm not a Shakespeare expert at all, but I've never found two editions of any author's text, when they are a few decades apart, to be identical - changes deliberately made for good or bad reasons, errors fixed, new errors introduced - in music, of course, the issue is much more obvious, and is intensely and often passionately debated, but in literature, too, there is no "original" that you can easily be true to - but, really, this is an enitirely different topic, I just wanted to know about Boots' or Boots's...)
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Old 11-09-2019, 02:35 PM   #7
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7 pm – Common and what I use, as I'm not in the USA.
7 p.m. Chicago & AP style guide, American.
7 AM – full size capitals
7 AM – small capitals, I don't now how to type that here.
I seem to remember at one point on MobileRead, you could use [size=-2]AM[/size] but that doesn't seem to be supported anymore.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FrustratedReader View Post
In formatting or editing a Public Domain work, it's normal to keep the usage of the author and only correct obvious OCR or typesetting errors.
Very much agree.

Last edited by DNSB; 11-09-2019 at 02:43 PM.
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Old 11-09-2019, 02:45 PM   #8
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Maybe your texts are not widely visible.

The issue of changing the Author's intent would have removed the need to ask about Boots' as it's what the author decided (and is likely correct).

So it's not an entirely different topic. It's related. If you found one or two Boots's and most are Boots' you'd know anyway to silently correct to Boots', also it's correct.

Unless you are doing a Shakespeare in Modern English and also expert at Jacobean play English (which wasn't the same as regular Jacobean, nor was the AV/KJV bible) you'd want to only edit Shakespeare for yourself, especially as you said you are not a native English speaker and don't know the rules for apostrophes. Sorry to be negative.

I've been reading English for over 50 years and editing / proofing for more than 30 and I'd not attempt to edit Shakespeare, not even for myself. I've more fun ways to waste time.

Most literature from the 18th C onwards the correct reading can be established. With Shakespeare there are actual valid different versions.
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Old 11-09-2019, 03:29 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by FrustratedReader View Post
Maybe your texts are not widely visible.

The issue of changing the Author's intent would have removed the need to ask about Boots' as it's what the author decided (and is likely correct).

So it's not an entirely different topic. It's related. If you found one or two Boots's and most are Boots' you'd know anyway to silently correct to Boots', also it's correct.

Unless you are doing a Shakespeare in Modern English and also expert at Jacobean play English (which wasn't the same as regular Jacobean, nor was the AV/KJV bible) you'd want to only edit Shakespeare for yourself, especially as you said you are not a native English speaker and don't know the rules for apostrophes. Sorry to be negative.

I've been reading English for over 50 years and editing / proofing for more than 30 and I'd not attempt to edit Shakespeare, not even for myself. I've more fun ways to waste time.

Most literature from the 18th C onwards the correct reading can be established. With Shakespeare there are actual valid different versions.
I would be exceedingly unhappy to learn that someone revised PD books as an editor. That's not why I'm reading it. I want the original text. I don't want someone's opinion, several hundred years later, of what it should have been. I don't want modern usage replacing what was in use at the time, what was in the writer's mind. Fixing SCAN errors is one thing. Fixing the author's? Ixnay, I say.

I mean...can you imagine Ulysses, "fixed?" I know, all too well, that there are "modern english" versions out there of older books. Fine, whatever; there are experts that do that sort of thing. (We're in the process of producing Donal Grant that way, with side-by-side modern English text for dialogue, as it happens. We're making the paperback--we didn't do the modernization, to be clear.) If that makes it more accessible for modern readers, fine--but it's CLEAR what it is and the original is right there for the readers' enjoyment.

Whatever, but...I think that "fixing" an original author's work, of PD books--that's something else again, and it's not a something that I would be happy about encountering.

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Old 11-09-2019, 04:15 PM   #10
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Agree totally.
As I lack ability with Old English, I have Chaucer's Canterbury tales in side by side. Best attempt at original text on one side and modern on the other.
Oddly if I read the old stuff (and Robbie Burns) out loud it makes more sense, perhaps because I'm from a Scottish / Irish part of "These Islands" originally. Tiring.
I can manage Shakespeare more easily, though I find it easier if someone else is reading it.

If you mean James Joyce's 'Ulysses', well it's experimental English with made up words. You could only break it by trying to fix it. I'd want a printed text even to fix OCR errors.

I think any serious republishing of old PD texts that are scanned and OCRed would have a proof reader with the printed edition and familiar with the author's works and English of the period.
I bought two collected works of Amazon Kindle that seemed to be simply stuff from archive.org (Google & MS OCR with no proof edit), waste of €2. Most of the Gutenberg and Fadedpage is OK for a free download, it's at least proofed by humans with the intent of only fixing typesetting & OCR errors. There are a lot of mega-collections on Amazon that seem to be just repackaged Gutenberg. Some with atrocious formatting. But I don't hold with re-writing PD, unless it's REALLY old and distributed clearly as a modern paraphrase, or obviously re-told as per Gaiman's "Norse Legends".

I'd not want to see Austen or any of the Brontës modernised and I think it's good the publisher reverted most of the changes to the Famous Five novels.
It's still weird though to read "classic" kids stories done before 1971 having decimal money. Obviously the publishers think kids are incapable of asking anyone what a Shilling is. I thought they still have history in schools.
UK Publishers leave USA texts as is. USA Publishers usually Americanize, but the author is still alive (e.g. J.K. Rowlings). American Publishers seem to think their readers are totally dumb. Hence Americans importing UK editions!
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Old 11-10-2019, 04:08 AM   #11
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The rule is that if it's pronounced Bootses then it's Boots's, but if spoken Boots, it's Boots'
That's the problem - I do not have access to an audio recording of the author's reading of her novel. Therefore, I do not know with certainty about the author's intent. Still, thank you for valuable information.
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Old 11-10-2019, 05:59 AM   #12
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In that case I was only referring to how a Native English speaker would say it.

1) By normal rules it's Boots'
2) It's pronounced boots, not bootses by any Native English speaker, which is why (1) applies.
3) It's the author's written usage. It's bizarre to consider changing it.

You do not need an audio recording of the author for this or any other book to know the author's intent.
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Old 11-10-2019, 06:18 AM   #13
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India (some provinces are over 90% native English speakers)

Indi has state, not provinces, and I'd be interested to know which states have a majority of L1 English speakers. According to the last Indian census data I read, the number of respondents who said that English was their first language (making them L1/ native speakers) was around 125,000. The number of L2 and L3 English speakers was at least 1000 times more, of course.

CORRECTION: According to this page It's more like 250K, not 125 (2 lakh and change)

Last edited by Uncle Robin; 11-10-2019 at 06:28 AM. Reason: correct statistics
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Old 11-10-2019, 11:56 AM   #14
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I may be misunderstanding about the English, and indeed it's state.
Nagaland.
Perhaps 90% speak English, though it's the official language. Perhaps they don't have it as a first language. Some African countries have English as an official language because of having very many different tribes / languages.

Also Malta has English as the Official Language. If the UK leave EU, then Ireland & Malta will still be using English. More people speak Polish and Chinese than Irish in Ireland.

Anyway my main point is that there is UK/British English, American English (but some groups in USA have quite different English) and then variations of English in other countries that may have mostly native English speakers.

If editing a British English author you'll manage best if your native English is the British kind and similarly for American. I'd be less confident editing Samuel Clemens or Asimov than any Brontë or John Wyndham.

I've known people from "British", Afrikaans and African backgrounds. Also Canadians, Australians and Americans. Also English, Northern Irish, Irish (Dublin and Rural), both kinds of Welsh and various kinds of Scottish. I've also known perfect speakers of English from Hong Kong (in late 1970s). I've known Germans, Dutch, Swedish, Czech and Slovak people that spoke perfectly good English.

I don't know anyone from India face to face, I was making assumptions based on Wiki research of Nagaland.

Last edited by FrustratedReader; 11-10-2019 at 12:00 PM.
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Old 11-10-2019, 02:18 PM   #15
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Gutenberg and Fadedpage teams both have it right.
You are aware that Gutenberg is not necessarily using first editions? For instance, for "Letters written during a short residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark" by Mary Wollstonecraft they use an edition from 1889 - http://www.gutenberg.org/files/3529/3529-h/3529-h.htm
I've proofread it against the original 1796 edition. Gutenberg has not changed the text they've scanned, but that has already been done in 1889. It's simply not the case that texts go through centuries of publishing unchanged. Also, in most cases, we do not even know the author's original version, because that's already been changed by the editor of the first edition. OK, enough of this, I'm doing my thing, and you don't deem me competent and don't approve of it, let's leave it at that.
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