Amy West medievalist at W-STS.COM
Wed Feb 10 14:32:22 UTC 2010

Our understandings of so many medieval things has changed so much
since the 1800s that many of their conclusions are suspect. Beowulf
was earlier read as history, for example. And there are
misinterpretations of physical objects -- the terms "chain mail,"
"ring mail," "scale mail," and "plate mail" are all constructs from
that period that don't relate to the actual objects (mail is often
constructed as a mesh, not as a series of chains; mail is only made
from rings so "ring mail" is redundant and "scale mail" and "plate
mail" are contradictions).

More to the topic at hand, that's a very interesting transcription
example. I wonder if what is going on is an attempt to distinguish
initial f from long-s. In MSs long-s was usually used only internally
and terminally, but I've seen it used initially in two printed
fencing manuals from the late 1700s (Angelo and Lonnergan). I wonder
if the 1800s transcriptions are trying to respond to the confusion.

Again, as David Wilton put it, as with so many topics, I know just
enough to be dangerous.

>Date:    Tue, 9 Feb 2010 20:53:58 -0500
>From:    "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
>Subject: Re: ffolliott
>I don't know about medieval, but I would tend to trust a "keeper of
>the manuscript department of the British Museum".  While admittedly
>the claim is a century old (1893), it still is long enough after
>medievality to think that she had the data.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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