1. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    Whiskey/whisky

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by stubeard, Aug 29, 2010.

    My story is set in 17th century Ireland and some people are drinking whisky. Now the original spelling is "whisky" although the Irish added an "e" (whiskey) in the 19th century to differentiate their drink from other types. What spelling do you think I should use for my story?

    Surely it would be anachronistic to use the "e" spelling? Or, seeing as this story is being told now, should I use the modern spelling?
     
  2. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    My general rule is use proper modern English unless quoted in the text... Depends how much authenticity you go for though... I don't tend to type accents, but if you are, then no one's going to care too hard about using whisky in the narration.

    Hmm. I'm now imagining you story without ever seeing it, and have decided you should just go all-out with using localised spelling where it crops up, then just stick in a glossary or a note of explanation at the end/beginning on one of those blank pages they use to pad out the book for printing. :p

    (That makes it sound like I was suggesting scrawl it in every copy with a ball-point pen... I merely mean it's cool to use those pages for something to make the rainforest feel like it didn't die in vain for 4 empty pages every novel :p)
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    stick to the custom of the times in which your story is set... to do differently would not be accurate...
     
  4. jameskmonger
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    jameskmonger Member

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    Just go with the spellings from the time.
     
  5. Lyssaur
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    Lyssaur Member

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    If the story is set, or is being told from the point of view of someone from that time period, use the archaic form.
     
  6. litchickuk
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    litchickuk Member

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    stick to the way that fits the time period and setting. Though modern editors would probably want it modern, the writer wants it authentic. I write authentically, no matter how many people nit pick it!
     
  7. Peerie Pict
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    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would go with 'whisky' because it is historically accurate in terms of the period in which you have set it in Ireland. Also, as far as I am aware, Scotch 'whisky' is the common spelling internationally and so is probably the familiar to the widest readership.
     
  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Well, unless you are writing the entire story in 17th century English, what's the point of picking one word to provide in its 17th century form? I don't see a benefit to it. Why worry about the word "whiskey" when there are plenty of other words in your story that aren't going to be presented in 17th century format?
     
  9. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Peeries makes a good point. For Scotch whisky, the 'e' is not present, even in current times.

    I am partial to Laphroaig, personally.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Since both spellings are legitimate, I'd just pick one and be consistent. Since whisky is consistent with the time, and still in use today as an acceptable spelling, I'd probably go with that.

    If you have a spelling that is not in current use, I'd tend to go for the modern spelling. The olde spelling may be more authentic, but may be ridiculous for a modern novel.

    We use modern punctuation and modern sentence structure, and we use modern narrative structure. Authentic seventeenth century language would be practically unreadable. Just try reading James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. It's less than a century old, but it can be pretty heavy wading for most readers.
     
  11. Shinn
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    Shinn Banned

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    I agree Cog; I read a novel with authentic 17th C. language and I was going through the story changing the words in my head into modern spellings, so I could understand it somewhat.
     
  12. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Urgh, as a history/literature student I know how that goes. :p I can read huge chunks of olde text pretty quickly, but it does leave me with a desire to cry when I see people try to imitate it. One word here and there, specifically nouns, isn't bad. But if someone went nuts with it, I'd scream. :p
     
  13. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    Yeah, I haven't used the old spelling of every word, but I just had images of Irish people nit-picking and saying "Irish whiskey is spelt with an 'e'," despite the fact the 'e' was only added in the 19th century.
     
  14. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, see, again I'd stick with the modern spelling.

    You aren't going back for every other word and looking for the 17th century version. So your entire novel is going to be written in modern English. Why single out "whiskey" to be different?

    I could see it if it was an epistolary novel or something that was 'supposed' to have been written back then, even though you are writing it now. Then you might do it for authenticity, and with more words than one.

    But in this case, you're using modern English so stick with it. If you spell it "whiskey," then I don't think anyone would find it odd, since you are using modern English throughout. On the other hand, if you use "whisky" then, as you noted above, you come across looking like you don't know that Irish whiskey has an 'e' in it.
     
  15. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    Perhaps I'll just have them drinking rum...

    (Or should that be 'rumbullion' :p )
     
  16. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    lol

    Not necessary. But if you think about it, are you going to use "to-day" for today? Dyet for diet? Shewed for showed? If not, why use whisky for whiskey?
     
  17. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    Is it not different for a product though? I guess it's not a brand name or anything, but I think it's not just a case of spelling it differently because Irish whiskey is actually different to Scotch and American.
     
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    not unless it's a brand name...
     
  19. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I suppose you could look at it differently for that reason. If it were a brand name, then I'd go with what was accurate at the time, I think. Just for flavor.

    A lot of American whiskey uses the 'e.' At least, nowadays. Not sure if that was always the case.

    I can see where you want to add flavor to the story by spelling it the old way. I wouldn't get too hung up on it either way. I lean toward the modern spelling for the reasons I mentioned above, but if you want to use the spelling in use in the 17th century, I can't see it being something that would cause a person to throw the book at the wall :)

    Just select the one you prefer personally and be consistent with it. That should work just fine.
     
  20. Lothgar
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    Lothgar Contributing Member

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    Well, if you are going for historical accuracy than by all means spell it whisky. History buffs who are adept in such things will appreciate your story more for it because it adds just another touch of authenticity. Readers who are ignorant of such things will most likely just gloss right over it and keep reading.

    However, with such historic models you must be careful. Generally speaking, historical stories set in "Ye olde days" can become hard for the modern day reader to follow, if you "Thee and Thou" them to death with it.

    As the old Greeks used to say "All things in moderation". :)
     
  21. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    They're both modern spellings, so that doesn't help much, does it? :rolleyes:
     

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