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Boots’ boots, or Boots’s?
#1  RobertDDL 11-09-2019, 05:12 AM
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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#2  Quoth 11-09-2019, 09:24 AM
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.
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#3  Turtle91 11-09-2019, 09:51 AM
Quote FrustratedReader

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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#4  RobertDDL 11-09-2019, 12:28 PM
Thank you for the extensive reply!

Quote FrustratedReader
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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#5  Quoth 11-09-2019, 01:22 PM
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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#6  RobertDDL 11-09-2019, 02:05 PM
Quote FrustratedReader
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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#7  DNSB 11-09-2019, 02:35 PM
Quote FrustratedReader
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 FrustratedReader
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.
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#8  Quoth 11-09-2019, 02:45 PM
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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#9  Hitch 11-09-2019, 03:29 PM
Quote FrustratedReader
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.

Hitch
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#10  Quoth 11-09-2019, 04:15 PM
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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