Talk:Christopher Newport

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US or UK spelling?[edit]

Recently, 86.136.175.11 (talk · contribs · WHOIS) changed the spelling in Christopher Newport, John Smith of Jamestown and John Rolfe from US to UK English. WP:ENGVAR says that "An article on a topic that has strong ties to a particular English-speaking nation uses the appropriate variety of English for that nation." The IP's position is that since Newport, Smith and Rolfe were all English (a point I concede) the articles should use British spelling. My feeling, however, is that all three are more notable for their roles in American history than for their roles in the history of Britain, and so the articles should use American spelling. All three articles are under tBold texthe aegis of the Virginia WikiProject; none are covered by any WikiProject about Britain or the British Empire. Spelling was not standardized (or standardised) at the time of the Jamestown settlement, so we can't go by the preferences of the subjects. I'll go with whatever consensus a discussion here leads to.

In the particular case of the Christopher Newport article, there's another aspect to the debate. Before the IP's changes, the article said:

As soon as land was in sight, sealed orders from the Virginia Company were opened which named Captain John Smith as one of the "counselors".

The IP changed this to "counsellors". Since it's in quotation marks, the article should use whatever spelling was in the original sealed orders. I don't know what that spelling was; I hope that regular editors of this article have access to reliable sources on the subject. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 19:26, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

23.Aug 2008 MARPAM The use and spelling of words. Firstly it is my understanding that if a source is quoted it should use the exact spelling of the words contained in the document If this would cause confusion or misunderstanding due to the erratic spelling in earlier times then it is permissible to 'modernise' it by using " quotes" and say this has been modernised.

The thorny question of English or US style. Firstly it was the English language taken by the colonists to "a British colony" which over the years has developed its own style, spelling, meaning and pronunciation. Some of the English language taken by the colonists has remained in use in America but fallen out of use in England. An example- in England 'gotton' is obsolete word. It was used in England until around the early 1700's but then it was replaced by 'got' or 'have'. As John Rolfe, Capt Smith and all the other colonists had British ancestry and then went to a 'new colony' then the style and language concerning them should be UK 17thc English which in the 'Colonies was sometimes called Colonial American. I am of the opinion that the birthplace of the person determines their nationality, though they may decide to adopt another nationality at a later date but when Rolfe was there it was a 'British colony'

I am sure they all felt 'British' as the concept of a separate identity had not been mooted. They were under the rule of the King /Queen and Parliament in England but were given concession to make 'local rules'

Before the American war of Independence there was no 'America' as it was considered a British colony. Once America became a country in its own right then things are different If you read early documents written in America they used spellings and sentence construction which is obsolete today. Perhaps a compromise is to put both spellings and let the reader decide which one they prefer. MARPAM


I think using US English as these poeple and places are far more important in US History than in the UK, and the WikiProject contributions. If there are primary sources, use the original language for quotations, but otherwise keep modern US spelling. BtW, I'm an active member of WikiProject Virginia, and go to Christopher Newport University. Zidel333 19:43, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
"Counselors" should be as in the source; but the "harbour" of Newport News, Virginia is the sort of thing that the preferences on Br/Am spelling were set up to avoid. I see no clear reason to change to BrE aside from the quotation, and it's even money which the original says there. It was stable in American; it should be reverted, to discourage the overzealous. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:56, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
Does anyone know what the original sealed orders said? Are they still extant? Or should we avoid the entire counselors/counsellors matter by saying "which named Captain John Smith as a member of the council"? —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 20:10, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
If no source exists for the statement, we have a more serious problem; but I doubt it. I like Josiah Rowe's suggestion, with a link from council to an appropriate article. I'll look into the evidence, but it will take me a while. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:31, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

I would suggest UK English as they were born in England. If one starts to go down the road of where they made their contributions, etc there's a big can of worms opened because it would be rife would arguments over what meant most, etc. Also the people in question would have used "British Isles English" as it were, not American English. John Smith's 19:53, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

The differences are here. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:58, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

(edit conflict with Septentrionalis)

The problem is that American and British English diverged long after this period, and the settlers would have used inconsistent spelling anyway, since spelling hadn't been standardized. Samuel Johnson and Noah Webster both came along much later. Really, it's an anachronism to say that these men spoke either "American English" or "British English" as they're understood today. Also, I think that the "arguments over what meant most" are worthwhile in this case, especially if we establish a consensus that can be referred to in such disputes later.
WP:ENGVAR has another argument in favor (or in favour) of using US English in this case: the existing variety in the article. It says:
If an article has evolved using predominantly one variety, the whole article should conform to that variety, unless there are reasons for changing it on the basis of strong national ties to the topic. In the early stages of writing an article, the variety chosen by the first major contributor to the article should be used, unless there is reason to change it on the basis of strong national ties to the topic.
I really don't think that there are sufficiently "strong national ties" in these cases to change the existing precedent. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 20:10, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
I would have fewer objections to a reversion justified on how the article(s) was/were before, but I would object to reversion based on where their "roles" were established. For one thing, if one is to argue that British/American English wasn't separated then so the former shouldn't be used, that would negate the argument that their roles mean they should use American English. John Smith's 21:44, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
And neither would have used minimize/ise, which is one of the bones of contention; the OED first cites Jeremy Bentham. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:31, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
My reason for changing was simply because Newport and Smith were English people with notabilities other than simply as colonists. Smith in particular had many adventures around the world and was born and died in England. I find the argument that (British) English and American English had not diverged to be rather irrelevant, it's the kind of argument that would seemingly make it possible to Americanise articles on pre-18th/19th century British history. Of course artcles on Jamestown, etc should be in American English, as colonial towns are still rather evident in the US. The people involved were irrefutably English however.86.136.175.11 22:50, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
I can see this argument, but I think that we can't ignore the question of whether Newport or Smith would be remembered today if it were not for their roles in the history of what later became America. I don't know the answer to that question — how important are Smith's adventures in central Europe and Turkey? What about Newport's role in the colonization of Bermuda? — but it's clear that a large degree of their significance is derived from their roles in the New World — and specifically in the parts of the New World that later spoke American English.
I mentioned the fact that the British and American dialects had not yet diverged as a response to the claim that these men would have spoken "British English". That's true, insofar as it goes, but it ignores the fact that the English they spoke was probably as close (or as distant) from modern British English as it is from modern American English. I wouldn't suggest that the William Shakespeare article be written in American English — nor should it be written in the Early Modern English he spoke. Since we don't write articles in the dialects spoken by the subjects, we have to consider other factors besides birth. Per WP:ENGVAR, the determination of which dialect is used in an article is based on precedent and "strong national ties". Smith, Newport and Rolfe are primarily important because of their roles in the founding of what later became America; therefore, they have "strong national ties" to American English. With the possible exception of Newport (because of the Bermuda connection), none of these men have as strong a tie to the history of other English-speaking countries. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 02:50, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
  • Should have been left in AmEng. Tony 00:09, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
  • I agree that this case is a bit refractory. Competent arguments can be made on either side of three of the four "simple guidelines" which WP:ENGVAR details. The only one that, in my opinion, clearly resolves the question is this one: "Where an article that is not a stub shows no signs of which variety it is written in, the first person to make an edit that disambiguates the variety, is equivalent to the first major contributor." As far as I can tell, that disambiguation occurred on 2004 03 Sep with this diff and remained stable until this diff from 2007 14 Aug. To me, this clearly indicates that the article should be maintained in US'Italic text' English. — Dave (Talk | contribs) 04:04, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
  • The whole debate over spelling conventions (especially tied to "Nationality") is ahistorical in this context. For example, some extant documents from this period spell Newport's surname Nuport. To argue that there is a definative "correct" spelling simply indicates the ethnocentrism of the parties involved.

About the main picture[edit]

Could someone reduce the size of it? I think the stretching has distorted it a bit too much. I think the default res is fine, just that I'm not sure how to do that without messing up the infobox. John Smith's 21:52, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one article was rated and this bot brought all the other ratings up to at least that level. BetacommandBot 11:04, 27 August 2007 (UTC)

The Trial[edit]

This page is the only page that mentions John smith gets a trial by jury no other page even makes mention of that. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dabigmac531 (talkcontribs) 22:23, 18 September 2010 (UTC)