Thursday, December 3, 2015

Critics of the Book of Mormon Grammar – Part II

Continuing from the previous post on Book of Mormon Grammar. 
    Finally, in the 1800s, the colon served as a period and a comma; the half stop (comma) and the full stop (period) were not finalized until the nineteenth century; the semicolon was first introduced in 1515, but changed about every century and did not fully catch on until after Lord Byron and Jane Austen, who used it haphazardly in the early 1800s, and not until 1893 was it finalized, though Mark Twain, who professed his dislike of the semicolon, used 1,562 in the Gutenberg Project edition of his 1884 work.
Old Horace Hart’s rules of 24 pages of grammar usage was first published in 1893 (left), but New Hart’s Rules covered more than 400 pages, and was revised almost every year until the 39th edition in 1983. It did not, however, become the source of authoritative grammar, punctuation and usage until 1904 (Called the Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors 2000; New Harts’ Rules 2005; New Oxford Style Manual 2012, which had become a single volume of 1033 pages in 2003. From Oxford, The King’s English, a book of English usage and grammar was not published until 1906, including vocabulary, syntax, and punctuation, covering extensively such areas as the proper use of “shall” and “will.” It’s last printing was 1931, at which time the Modern English Usage work had superseded it in popularity. The acceptable Received Pronunciation of English was not developed until 1869; the Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary was not published until 1917; and the A Concise Pronouncing Dictionary of American and British English was not published until 1970; and the American MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers was not published until 1977.
    The point being that in 1830, when the Book of Mormon was first published, the rules of grammar were often little more than a scattering of opinions, often in conflict from one group to another, with no official single set of standards to be applied. The word “good” as an example has been spelled in more than a dozen different ways, with many more from Scottish usage. It was not until the spelling reform movement was at its height between 1880 and 1910 that dictionaries included the new reforms and set down much of the spelling we know today.
The main collections of the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae (left), edited in Germany and Austria, did not start its main collecitons in 1883, ending in 1900. Most countries have developed their own special language dictionaries, but not one was begun before 1882 (Dutch) and 1898 (Swedish), with the rest begun after 1900, many in the middle of the century.
    Some writers used a plethora of punctuation, while others used punctuation sparingly--there was no right or wrong way to use it, anymore than there was a right or wrong way of spelling a word through most of the 19th century. In fact, Shakespeare himself spelled his own name Shakespeare, Shakespere, and Shaksper, and was pronounced several different ways during the Elizabethan era, including "Shack-spear." Christopher Marlowe was baptized Marlow, while he spelled his own name Marley, and the theatrical entrepreneur we know as Phillip Henslowe was spelled Henslowe or Hinsley, Henslow and Hinshleyhe in a single document in 1587.
59 words in 2 sentences: 5 commas, 2 semi-colons, 3 colons, 1 period, 1 question mark
    Shakespeare’s punctuation differed from Ben Johnson, Christopher Marlowe, and Richard Burbage, who all differed from Geoffrey Chaucer and William Caxton. Charles Dickens and George Eliot wrote differently than Samuel Coleridge and Sir Walter Scott.
    Take the word "thought," which has been spelled variously over time as "þoht, ðoght, þou?te, thowgth, thouch, thotht, thoughte, and thowcht," and not finalized until Joseph Smith's time in the early nineteenth century with "th" and "gh" by Webster in his 1828 dictionary. Or the word "Wednesday," which has gone through various spellings--wodnesdaeg, Weodnesdei, Wenysday, wonysday, Weddinsday--but even though Shakespeare tried to match pronunciation with his very reasonable "Wensday," it didn't stick. Or "jeopardy," which became "lupartye, ieoperde, and yeopardie," before settling on its current spelling in the nineteenth century. And "island" which came from the Old English "iglund," and was spelled various "illond, ylonde, or ilande," until someone took an "s" from Latin insula and stuck it where it had never been meant to be--in 1828, it was not even considered a word in New England, where "isle" was used.
    Before leaving this, let us deal with one more type of question and comment that is also often raised regarding the copyright of the Book of Mormon, and thus Joseph Smith’s name appearing on the original cover page as the author.
    First of all nineteenth-century authors who  wanted to control the profits and distribution of their literary work, as well as protect the contents from copy and illegal printing, had a number of options, each centered on the relationship between the author or proprietor and the printer, bookseller, or publisher. Two options did not include obtaining a copyright: an older style of print negotiations had the author obtain funds from a patron or a group of subscribers to pay a printer, who would then negotiate with the author on how to distribute the profits; alternatively, and more common in 1829, authors could negotiate with printers for half of the profits and avoid the necessity of outside funds. In the United States, federal copyright law was in force by 1790, and copyrighted books offered more security to both the printer and the author by protecting the text from unauthorized sale and distribution. An author with a federal copyright could permanently sell the rights to publish a manuscript or do so only temporarily or for a specified number of editions. The author could also retain the rights and negotiate separately with a printer for publication. In such cases, the copyright reassured a printer that the work would not be undercut by unauthorized editions.
    The federal copyright statute of 1790, as amended in 1802, outlined five steps to obtaining a copyright: the applicant was to deposit a copy of a work’s title page with the clerk of the federal district court, pay for the copyright certificate, publish the certificate in the newspaper in four consecutive weeks over the next two months, print the certificate in the book, and provide a copy of the book to the U.S. Secretary of State within six months of its publication.
    The copyright record presented and printed in the 1830 edition was from Joseph Smith’s compliance with the requirements. It is printed form prepared by Richard R. Lansing, the clerk of the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York, who signed and dated it. The author could request extra copies of the record for sixty cents, but only the recipient’s copy, and the court’s copy are extant. As required by the law, the submission for the Book of Mormon copyright included a printed copy of the Book of Mormon title page, a document still retained along with the court’s copyright record. In the second printing, Joseph Smith's name as author was changed to "translated by Joseph Smit, Jr."
Printers in the area had little or no experience printing books that were as large and as expensive as the Book of Mormon. The copyright decreased the financial risk of publishing the book and therefore gave Joseph Smith additional power to negotiate with potential printers. Joseph Smith’s early efforts to find a printer were apparently conducted in and around Palmyra, where E. B. Grandin originally rejected his proposal, likely fearing that the book would not be profitable. Joseph Smith’s lack of a copyright during those early negotiations may also have made Grandin hesitant, since only a copyright would have protected his interests by prohibiting competing presses from producing the same book. After unsuccessful attempts in Palmyra, Joseph Smith and Martin Harris solicited printers in Rochester, New York. There, Thurlow Weed appears also to have rejected the proposal, even though Harris offered his farm as payment, but then Joseph Smith met success: his proposal was accepted by printer Elihu F. Marshall. Joseph Smith returned to Palmyra with Marshall’s offer, and this time he successfully negotiated with Grandin.
    After the agreement was in place, Joseph Smith returned to his home in Harmony, Pennsylvania. He did not sell his copyright to Grandin or negotiate an arrangement to share the profits from the book’s sale, nor did he need to once Harris had agreed to be the financier. John H. Gilbert, the typesetter of the Book of Mormon, estimated the cost for printing five thousand books at $3,000, a figure that included a profit for Grandin. If enough books sold, Harris could recoup what he had provided by mortgaging part of his farm for $3,000, and Joseph Smith might even make a profit.
    Copyright Statement: “Be it remembered, That on the Eleventh day of June in the fifty third year of the Independence of the United States of America, A. D. 1829 Joseph Smith Junior of the said District, hath deposited in this Office the title of a book the right whereof he claims  as author in the words following, to wit: The Book of  Mormon; an account written by the hand of Mormon upon plates taken from  the plates of Nephi. Wherefore it is an abridgement of the record of the people of Nephi and also of the Lamanites.”

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