Compleat / complete
Posted: 27 May 2013 08:54 AM   [ Ignore ]
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What would people here expect to find included in a new edition of a famous and readily-available historical memoir published as ’The Compleat [memoirist’s name]‘?

I mean, I know that historically compleat was just a variant spelling of complete, but when it’s used in this way in a book title I would say that the word implies rather more than the complete unabridged memoir. I opened it expecting, as well as the memoir, at least some account of what’s known of the memoirist’s life and times, explanatory footnotes, cross-references with other memoirists’ accounts of the same events, et cetera. When I bought this ‘compleat’ edition and found that it is literally no more than the complete text, I felt I had been suckered. (The more so as there are at least three other complete and unabridged editions currently available - it’s not even as though getting the unabridged text was a big deal.)

Do other people feel that ‘compleat’ in this context implies more than just ‘unabridged’ ?

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Posted: 27 May 2013 09:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Sounds to me simply like an ordinary bit of marketing. Marketing, after all, is persuading you to believe that a product is more special than it actually is (until you buy the product). “GUNKO—more than just another hair conditioner!!!”. In fact, it’s just another hair conditioner.

“Compleat” is a clever marketing ploy. It conjures up (of course) the image of Mr. Walton’s book (which is more than just another book about fishing), and indeed, implies much more than just a complete unabridged memoir.

Yes, Syntinen Laulu. You’ve been suckered.

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Posted: 27 May 2013 12:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Oh, I knew I’d been suckered all right. (My only consolation is that I’d not been dumb enough to shell out for a new copy, but had been sceptical enough to pick it up second-hand.) I just wanted to know if everyone else here felt that the specific term was a legitimate description or not.

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Posted: 27 May 2013 04:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I wouldn’t call it being “suckered,” if it was indeed simply an unabridged edition. For example, when you buy a “complete works” of Shakespeare, you don’t expect to get the quarto versions of the plays. I would be especially skeptical of any modern work titled “compleat.” That’s just marketing hype, which may or may not be true.

By saying that you were not “suckered,” that doesn’t mean that you don’t have a right to be disappointed.

If you want all the works, with variants, critical notes, etc., you should look for a “variorum” edition. That word does carry a specific meaning, and you would be suckered if you got less.

[ Edited: 27 May 2013 04:10 PM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 27 May 2013 06:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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If it said c0mp1337, I’d trust it.

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Posted: 28 May 2013 12:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I wouldn’t expect anything special from such a title. Instructional books have long attempted to ride on the shoulders of Izaak Walton’s hugely popular Compleat Angler, published in 1653. Hence the spelling.

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Posted: 28 May 2013 01:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Quinion discusses compleat/complete in http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-com3.htm .

A tidbit:

“The Oxford English Dictionary says that compleat is just an archaic spelling of complete. It died out around the end of the eighteenth century.
One of its last appearances was a reference to George III in the US Declaration of Independence: ‘He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny.’ “

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