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Just pointing out a trivial error

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Just pointing out a trivial error
Post by mjnagle1969   » Mon Jul 11, 2016 12:55 pm

mjnagle1969
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Mr. Weber:

I have enjoyed your work ever since I bought and read a copy of The Short Victorious War over twenty years ago. I have been in love with Honor Harrington ever since, and have avidly read everything Honor after then. As well, I have also read and enjoyed nearly everything else you have published, especially The Excalibur Alternative and The Apocalypse Troll.

However, in The Apocalypse Troll, you made a small, perhaps trivial error.

At the beginning of Chapters 1, 4, 7, 11, 13, 15, 18, 21, and 26 you included citations from the 2465 edition of the Webster-Wangchi Unabridged Dictionary of Standard English, Tomás y Hijos, Publishers.

The error is in the name of the publisher. "Tomás y Hijos" should be "Tomás e Hijos.

As I'm sure you already know, the Spanish word "y" has the same meaning as "and" in English, and is pronounced like the "ee" in "keep".

However, in Spanish, when "y" is followed by a word that begins with the "ee" sound, like "hijos", it is changed to "e" (pronounced like the "e" in "best") for purposes of euphony.

In English, we do the same thing when we use "an" instead of "a" before a word that begins with a vowel sound, saying "an honor" rather than "a honor."

I doubt that many of your non-Spanish-speaking readers even noticed the error, and trust that few of those of us who do speak Spanish even cared. After all, the novel is exceptional as it is.

Still, you might want to change it for the next edition. (I don't doubt there will be one.)

Thank you for your time.

Mike
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Re: Just pointing out a trivial error
Post by AJKohler   » Sat Jul 16, 2016 7:58 am

AJKohler
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Spoken like a true member of the grammar police!
Tony

http://www.repeat-lives.com - Please read Repeat
Vietnam veteran - 187th Assault Helicopter Company, Tay Ninh, RVN 1968 - 1969
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Re: Just pointing out a trivial error
Post by mjnagle1969   » Fri Aug 05, 2016 3:00 am

mjnagle1969
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AJKohler wrote:Spoken like a true member of the grammar police!

Tony,

It is obvious that Mr. Weber took great pains to ensure that there would be as few grammatical errors in the published novel as possible. That he might be unaware of such an error that isn't even in English is completely understandable. Still, I thought he might find it useful to know about the error, so that he could correct it in future printings, if he chose to do so.

Besides, didn't you notice the word "trivial" in the Subject line?

I, myself, aspire to be a professional writer, and whenever someone points out an error in my writing, grammatical or not, I always say "Thank you," and am sincerely grateful.

By the way, please forgive my taking so long to respond to your message. I hadn't visited this forum since before you posted your reply.
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Re: Just pointing out a trivial error
Post by AJKohler   » Fri Aug 05, 2016 8:07 am

AJKohler
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mjnagle1969 wrote:
AJKohler wrote:Spoken like a true member of the grammar police!

Tony,

It is obvious that Mr. Weber took great pains to ensure that there would be as few grammatical errors in the published novel as possible. That he might be unaware of such an error that isn't even in English is completely understandable. Still, I thought he might find it useful to know about the error, so that he could correct it in future printings, if he chose to do so.

Besides, didn't you notice the word "trivial" in the Subject line?

I, myself, aspire to be a professional writer, and whenever someone points out an error in my writing, grammatical or not, I always say "Thank you," and am sincerely grateful.

By the way, please forgive my taking so long to respond to your message. I hadn't visited this forum since before you posted your reply.


Oh, trust me, I did notice 'trivial,' and I completely agree with you.

One of my own problems is that not only do I write (three novels published, one coming out soon), but I edit for one of my publishers. I find I have become far more aware of trivial errors - and appalled to see what some people consider ready for submission to a publisher. By extension, that suggests what a lot of readers are willing to accept.

I'm not trying to toot my own horn, but my own writing is labored over interminably in order to make it as correct as possible. I have schooled my own editors on several occasions when they have suggested changes from the correct to the incorrect.

It merely takes a certain kind of personality to pick grammatical nits.

Oh, and lest you think I don't appreciate the problems with trying to incorporate something in a language one is not familiar with, my upcoming book contains several passages in a language I don't speak and making it properly colloquial for the region is important to the story. I only hope that the fellow who translated it for me did it right - but I'm sure someone will find an error in it.
Tony

http://www.repeat-lives.com - Please read Repeat
Vietnam veteran - 187th Assault Helicopter Company, Tay Ninh, RVN 1968 - 1969
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Re: Just pointing out a trivial error
Post by jchilds   » Sat Aug 06, 2016 4:43 am

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Alternate universe grammar rules were/are different?

-OR-

Perhaps it's correct in 2465 as the language has changed?
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Re: Just pointing out a trivial error
Post by AJKohler   » Sat Aug 06, 2016 8:02 am

AJKohler
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Location: Southern Arizona

jchilds wrote:Alternate universe grammar rules were/are different?

-OR-

Perhaps it's correct in 2465 as the language has changed?



Shame on you for injecting reality into this discussion! :lol:
Tony

http://www.repeat-lives.com - Please read Repeat
Vietnam veteran - 187th Assault Helicopter Company, Tay Ninh, RVN 1968 - 1969
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Re: Just pointing out a trivial error
Post by mjnagle1969   » Sat Aug 06, 2016 8:29 am

mjnagle1969
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Posts: 8
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AJKohler wrote:Oh, trust me, I did notice 'trivial,' and I completely agree with you.

One of my own problems is that not only do I write (three novels published, one coming out soon), but I edit for one of my publishers. I find I have become far more aware of trivial errors - and appalled to see what some people consider ready for submission to a publisher. By extension, that suggests what a lot of readers are willing to accept.

I'm not trying to toot my own horn, but my own writing is labored over interminably in order to make it as correct as possible. I have schooled my own editors on several occasions when they have suggested changes from the correct to the incorrect.

It merely takes a certain kind of personality to pick grammatical nits.

Oh, and lest you think I don't appreciate the problems with trying to incorporate something in a language one is not familiar with, my upcoming book contains several passages in a language I don't speak and making it properly colloquial for the region is important to the story. I only hope that the fellow who translated it for me did it right - but I'm sure someone will find an error in it.


Fair enough.

Mike
Last edited by mjnagle1969 on Sat Aug 06, 2016 9:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Just pointing out a trivial error
Post by mjnagle1969   » Sat Aug 06, 2016 9:22 am

mjnagle1969
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jchilds wrote:Alternate universe grammar rules were/are different?

-OR-

Perhaps it's correct in 2465 as the language has changed?


Well, either hypothesis is possible, but I find both of them unlikely.

For the first hypothesis, it seems obvious to me that David Weber was extrapolating into the future of the year 1999 in our universe, not one that he invented solely for this novel.

As to the second, there are two reasons why this would be unlikely.

1. In spoken English, individual words are pronounced distinctly from each other. In spoken Spanish, words tend to blend together.

So when spoken aloud, "Tomás y Hijos", meaning "Tomás and Sons", would be indistinguishable from "Tomás Hijos", which would mean "Sons of the Tomás family".

(Actually, "Hijos Tomás" would be a more common way to say that, but "Tomás Hijos" is still grammatically correct; word order is less important in Spanish than it is in English.)

2. From Chapter Seven of the novel:
[Aston asks Ludmilla] “How does it happen you speak twenty-first-century English, then?”
“I don’t,” she said, and grinned faintly at his expression. “Not normally, I mean. Oh, mass literacy, printing, and audio recordings pretty much iced the language after the twentieth century, but it’s actually a bit diff for me to match into your dialect. I’m a histortech by hobby, and that helps, but historical holodrama helps more.” She laughed softly. “Not that they got it nickety, but they came close.”

If English was "iced" after the twentieth century, why wouldn't Spanish be?

Of course, only Mr. Weber can say for sure...

Mike
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Re: Just pointing out a trivial error
Post by Dathi   » Tue Aug 09, 2016 10:32 am

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But if the local dialect of Spanish used starts pronouncing initial 'h's (more distinctly?), possibly due to influence from English or other languages (maybe even harder, like a Greek or Russian X), then 'y' would make far more sense.

English went from 'an historian' to 'a historian', for instance, which is a similar sort of change.

English, often, has 'spelling pronunciations' (like some people pronouncing the 't' in 'often'), and other languages do, too. French used to pronounce 'il y a' as basically 'ya' (and it's still colloquial in e.g. Québec), but due to spelling pronunciation, the 'l' is now sounded.

mjnagle1969 wrote:
jchilds wrote:Alternate universe grammar rules were/are different?

-OR-

Perhaps it's correct in 2465 as the language has changed?


Well, either hypothesis is possible, but I find both of them unlikely.

For the first hypothesis, it seems obvious to me that David Weber was extrapolating into the future of the year 1999 in our universe, not one that he invented solely for this novel.

As to the second, there are two reasons why this would be unlikely.

1. In spoken English, individual words are pronounced distinctly from each other. In spoken Spanish, words tend to blend together.

So when spoken aloud, "Tomás y Hijos", meaning "Tomás and Sons", would be indistinguishable from "Tomás Hijos", which would mean "Sons of the Tomás family".

(Actually, "Hijos Tomás" would be a more common way to say that, but "Tomás Hijos" is still grammatically correct; word order is less important in Spanish than it is in English.)

2. From Chapter Seven of the novel:
[Aston asks Ludmilla] “How does it happen you speak twenty-first-century English, then?”
“I don’t,” she said, and grinned faintly at his expression. “Not normally, I mean. Oh, mass literacy, printing, and audio recordings pretty much iced the language after the twentieth century, but it’s actually a bit diff for me to match into your dialect. I’m a histortech by hobby, and that helps, but historical holodrama helps more.” She laughed softly. “Not that they got it nickety, but they came close.”

If English was "iced" after the twentieth century, why wouldn't Spanish be?

Of course, only Mr. Weber can say for sure...

Mike
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Re: Just pointing out a trivial error
Post by mjnagle1969   » Fri Aug 12, 2016 12:16 am

mjnagle1969
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Joined: Mon Jul 11, 2016 11:58 am

Dathi wrote:But if the local dialect of Spanish used starts pronouncing initial 'h's (more distinctly?), possibly due to influence from English or other languages (maybe even harder, like a Greek or Russian X), then 'y' would make far more sense.

English went from 'an historian' to 'a historian', for instance, which is a similar sort of change.

English, often, has 'spelling pronunciations' (like some people pronouncing the 't' in 'often'), and other languages do, too. French used to pronounce 'il y a' as basically 'ya' (and it's still colloquial in e.g. Québec), but due to spelling pronunciation, the 'l' is now sounded.


These changes are, of course, possible, and your points are certainly valid. Still, I find such changes unlikely.

In the first place, "h" in Spanish is completely silent, not simply less distinctively pronounced. This is a change from over a thousand years ago, when Spanish more closely resembled the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire.

At that time, "hijo" was "filio". Over the centuries, especially during the period of Moorish occupation of Spain, the initial "f" became silent, and the "h" now only serves as a place-holder for the now-vanished "f". There are very few words in Modern Spanish that begin with "h" that also began with "h" in Latin. In my copy of the Oxford Spanish-English Dictionary I couldn't find a single Spanish word that begins with an "h" followed by an "i" or "y", that is neither a word that was imported from a non-Romance language nor a case of the replacement of "h" for a silent "f".

(By the way, the initial letter "f" did not become silent and replaced by "h" in all of the Spanish words that come from Latin, although it did do so in a large number of them. The words in modern Portuguese and Italian that come from the same Latin roots still begin with a non-silent "f".)

It is true that in the Québécois dialect "il y a" is pronounced "ya". As well, throughout the Americas, the "z" and soft "c" in Spanish are pronounced like the "s" in "seal", while in Spain they are pronounced like the "th" in "think".

But in the case of the French "il y a" and the Spanish "z" such deviations from standard are the continued use of pronunciations from earlier, perhaps less literate, eras. They are not new pronunciations that developed locally.

Also, it is true that Americans almost universally say "a historian" rather than "an historian", but some British speakers, especially public-school-educated ones, still say and write "an historian", even if they pronounce the "h" as Americans do. After all, there is no official "Academy" that defines "standard" English.

However, there are such "Academies" for Spanish, French, German, and many other European languages, that define the standards for those languages.

The Real Académia Española (RAE) was founded in 1713, and everywhere Spanish is spoken (or written), the spelling of words set by the RAE is strictly followed, no matter how local pronunciation might vary from that of Spain. This has been the case for at least 250 years, and there is no reason to believe that is will not be the case for another 250, or even 500 years.

Since its founding, the only major changes in spelling that have been sanctioned by the RAE have been the replacement of "x" with "j" for the rough "h" sound, the change of the standard pronunciation of "x" from rough "h" to "ks" (as in English), and most recently, designation of the digraphs "ch", "ll", and "rr" as being two-letter combinations, rather than as single letters, as they had been previously regarded (which, of course, only affects alphabetical order in dictionaries, etc).

So there is no reason to believe that "Tomás y Hijos" would be regarded as correct Spanish spelling even 500 years in the future (unless, of course, the author says it was so for purposes of the story, which David Weber, as far as I know, has never said).

No, it was simply a trivial mistake. There is no reason to believe that, it being an error in Spanish, the author or any of the editors would even have been aware it was an error before publication.

Mike
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