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View Diary: ÍslensKos: The Icelandic Language (Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Lingustic Complexity) (183 comments)

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  •  I'm not absolutely sure of this, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bruce Webb, Oh Mary Oh

    but I'm pretty sure the "f" as "s"  peculiarity is in fact  a misreading/misinterpretation of the actual letter.  I say this because it is essentially what happens in the old-fashioned German Fraktur typescript, a derivative of which must be the form you mention.  In Fraktur, the lower case "s" looks almost exactly like an f except that the crosspiece does not go all the way through the vertical part of the letter.  In the f, the crosspiece does go completely through it, thereby differentiating the two. (Upper case Fraktur letters are wildly different from their lower case counterparts, by the way)  Anyway, in 18th century English handwriting, this "f" that isn't an f, only occurs in the middle or at the end of a word, but never at the beginning, where a form of  the more familiar letter is used.  

    -7.13 / -6.97 "The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion." -- Edmund Burke

    by GulfExpat on Tue Sep 27, 2011 at 09:46:17 AM PDT

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    •  The tall "S" comes from book hands (0+ / 0-)

      that evolved from late-Roman cursive forms of the letter. The tall S is used in various Carolingian book hands that went on to form the basis of late medieval and early modern Humanist scripts that were developed as a reaction to gothic Black Letter bookhands.

      The humanist scholars looked back to the Carolingian hands (like uncial, half uncial, and the various miniscules) as examples of highly readable scripts that they felt reflected a golden age of education and which they thought should replace the much more difficult to read gothic hands which had turned into a hyper-stylized series of minims. Te gothic hands made it difficult to read sries of letters such as m, n, u, v, I, l, w, and H. As they were all basically made up of minims (the basic component stroke of a letter) they were very difficult to muddle through a word with more than one of the above letters in a row.

      After a while the tall s and the regular s started to be used according to position in the word (but not always consistently — look at the different instances of each in the US Constitution).

      In the example cited in the above comment, the "cross piece" of the S would actually be a serif incorporated into the type set because of how the serif would be formed when the letter was hand-written. That is part of the confusion of why it is often thought to look like an F

      Hwær cwom mearg? Hwær cwom mago? Hwær cwom maþþumgyfa? Hwær cwom symbla gesetu? Hwær sindon seledreamas?
      Eala beorht bune! Eala byrnwiga! Eala þeodnes þrym!

      by Alea iacta est on Wed Sep 28, 2011 at 10:29:35 AM PDT

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