On ebook errors. A flippant post.

I seem to have high, high threshold for those unvetted ebooks that come equipped with grammatical gymnastics, slips of the finger, and creative spellings. Notice how fond that sentence was?

It’s an issue that puts a lot of people off the indie publishing lark. A great excuse has leapt to mind, about my toleration factor. From an early age I have stumbled through medieval literature, unmodernised. I loathe modernisations. (If you want to know why, just read the first four lines of Canterbury Tales in Penguin’s modern English translation, and then read them in Penguin’s original-spelling edition. See?) I had the commonsense – which I must have learnt, possibly from T.H. White, or T.E. Lawrence? – to loathe modernisations from the start, so I pitted my teen brain against original-spelling Malory and onwards into the wonders of medieval romance.

As for genuine Malory, may I pose the question: do you like your knights garnysshed for battle, or… come to that, I’ve only eyed moderns to scorn them and don’t have one in the house. What do they do? Garnish Sir Lancelot for joust? I bet he prepares, doesn’t he, or arms himself: and how much is lost?

Or I’ll give you the serious argument, although this is a tangent. Yes, the original is odd to our eyes. But that is a constant little memento to you: throw yourself back, do not make your modern assumptions, question them – at every sentence, watch for the 15thC ideas of the world, and don’t judge by your own. Else you read the book half-blind. The ‘simplest’ change – removal of the garnysshynges – starts to remove the evidence, in this case, on their idea of battle, that’s different than ours, in subtle ways you need the words to study. If you want to know how a knight felt in his battle preparations, Malory can tell you, but a moderniser won’t.

Where was I? Ebooks. After these encounters with spelling and grammar different from our own, and yet English, can I mind an ebook? The grammar and spelling taught to us goes for here and now, but English has been a Beast Glatisant with head of pard and feet of hart, and Chaucer, he’d be kicked out of grammar class today. It’s English, he might protest on his way out. If I can understand it – this is the bottom line – it’s English, and even to have strictures on how to spell a word is latter-day in the wonderful life of English. Is this why I don’t care?

It is a great excuse.

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