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f's for s's?????

Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 11:29 pm
by Heather
when reading writings from the 1600's, or thereabouts, why do
the printers use and f for an s? i can't think of an example right now, but frequently this is seen

f's for s's?????

Posted: Wed Oct 26, 2005 5:01 am
by Erik_Kowal
Heather, I assume you are referring to the phenomenon whereby the utterance of Ariel in Shakespeare's The Tempest, "Where the bee sucks, there suck I," might have been rendered in print as "Where the bee fucks, there fuck I".

I suggest you see the Wikipedia article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_s for an explanation of how the f/s substitution came about. There is a more general article devoted to typography at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typography which has many individual links to sub-articles on other typographical topics.

f's for s's?????

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2005 4:40 pm
by Edwin Ashworth
Many pupils have failed through effays on "The Tempest".

f's for s's?????

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2005 8:17 pm
by russcable
Alice (the dim verger on "The Vicar of Dibley") practices reading Psalm 18 "The Lord is my succor", then has to read it during the service from the OLD Bible...

f's for s's?????

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2005 10:16 pm
by kagriffy
Well done, Russ (or is that Ruff?)!!!! I had completely forgotten that episode of one of my favorite "Brit-Coms"! Alice was one of the funniest characters (aside from the Vicar herself!) on that show.

f's for s's?????

Posted: Sat Nov 05, 2005 10:04 am
by Erik_Kowal
Surely nowadays you should be spelling your name Grissy, Allen?

Talk about a double ftandard! ;-)

f's for s's?????

Posted: Sat Nov 05, 2005 7:04 pm
by Andrew Dalby
If Heather was looking for intelligent life, she hasn't found it here (or so it seems to me). Why no straight answer? Here is one: those fs are not quite fs if you look at them closely in a book printed before 1800 or so. They are a character like an f but lacking the front tick. It is the alternate form of s, a 'long s', which used to be used in copperplate handwriting and in print -- but never at the end of a word. Print imitated handwriting. After 1800, they decided this was too complicated and they would just have one form of s.
But I have no idea who decided, and whether there was argument about it ...

f's for s's?????

Posted: Sat Nov 05, 2005 7:38 pm
by Erik_Kowal
Andrew, perish the thought that you should even think of consulting the Wikipedia explanation to which I linked.

Or would that be demanding too much of your intelligence?

f's for s's?????

Posted: Sun Nov 06, 2005 9:49 pm
by russcable
Allen, Russ would look like Rufs as the short s was used at the end of a word so I guess you're shorting me a ruff (I am at least 2 rufs) ^_^.

f's for s's?????

Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 12:00 am
by Slateman
This apparently was also a common practice in colonial times in the US. I remember reading copies of the Pennsylvania Gazette (the paper published by Ben Franklin) from before the revolutionary war and I was first very confused by the "f"s in place of the expected "s" in many words. As an aside, if you everget a chance to read that newspaper definitely take a look as it is very interesting, especially the advertisements.

f's for s's?????

Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 6:56 pm
by kagriffy
Erik, judging by the various spellings (fpellings?) seen on junk mail at my house, perhaps I already do spell it "Grissy." Now that I think about it, maybe I've just always assumed (affumed?) my name is spelled with "Fs" because I didn't realize my birth certificate was printed in "old-style" script!

f's for s's?????

Posted: Tue Nov 08, 2005 8:37 am
by Andrew Dalby
Yes, Erik, thank you, I guessed it was probably there. I just thought it made sense to give a straight answer as well ...