Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Wed Feb 10 17:17:28 UTC 2010

Victor quotes

"... _the then_ representatives ..."

from1855. Amazing! Had anybody asked me, I would have WAG-ed _the
then_ from more like 1965! Youneverknow!


On Tue, Feb 9, 2010 at 10:16 PM, Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at gmail.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: ffolliott
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> More 1893 stuff and much earlier. Although I could not find the main
> 1892 article that is supposed to be definitive, the rest is rather
> convincing (to me). I added an extra item on a variation of double-f in
> a different context, but note that the explanation is similar (although
> the underlying source of the error is different). As for the letter, it
> makes perfect sense that the transcription was incorrect--note the
> comments in the clippings below about ffor, ffrom, etc.
> http://bit.ly/b8mwDg
> Notes and Queries, Vol. 305, Sept. 1, 1855
> pp. 169-170
>> The Double "ff," or Capital "F."
>> (Vol. xii, p. 126)
>> It has always been my opinion (formed from a long and extensive
>> acquaintance with manuscripts) that the recent practice of spelling
>> proper names with two /ff/'s instead of a capital letter, has risen
>> partly from a love of singularity, but chiefly from an affected
>> accuracy in following old family documents supposed to so written.
>> From the same cause we find many editors of ancient English poetry
>> giving us such forms as /Ffor/, /Ffrom/, &c., all of which, I contend,
>> are erroneous ;  for the supposed double letter is only, in reality, a
>> single capital F, formed of two strokes (as was usual), and which
>> identical F is used in engrossing deeds in every solicitor's office.
>> Any person who will take the trouble to examine minutely the use of
>> this pretended double /f/, as compared with other capital letters,
>> will perceive the fallacy ;  and this may be rendered clearer by
>> consulting a manuscript in which English, French, and Latin poems or
>> prose tracts are written by the same pen. Although the English capital
>> F may be (and has often been) erroneously copied as /Ff/ by an editor,
>> he would hardly venture to regard the same F as a double letter in the
>> French and Latin portions of the same manuscript. In conclusion it may
>> be remarked, that in Old English, as in German, there was a great
>> temdency to employ capital letters where we now use small letters, as
>> in the case of nouns, adverbs (compounded of a noun and preposition),
>> &c. In many instances, also, an ignorant scribe employed a capital
>> unnecessarily, and which in copying need not be imitated.
>>          µµ
>>                ***
>> These surnames and some others are now-a-days often written and
>> printed as if the initial letter were originally a /double/ f :
>> whereas the modern character us but a corrupted from the single Old
>> English /capital/ letter ff, as in the word ffollow, simply a
>> duplication, for the sake of distinction, of the small letter f. There
>> may be a little affectation in writing double f instead of a single F.
>> I have seen the name "Foster" written in the following
>> way--"Ffoster."  This is a step farther in affectation. I may as well
>> follow the fashion ;  so, instead of W., I will on this occasion adopt
>>             UU. or VV.
>>                  ***
>> jj. cc. rr.'s question would have been more interesting and more
>> difficult to answer had he inquired why our ancestors habitually used
>> two small f's as a capital, and never two j's, or c's, or r's, or
>> other letters as such. Down even to the Stuart times, not only proper
>> names, but ffishe, fflesh, ffowle, ffriends, and ffoes, &c. were
>> treated in the same manner. Some families retain the ff on the same
>> "principle" as leads certain Brownes and Greenes to retain the final
>> e, as induces the Myddletons, and Lytteltons, to rejoice in a y and a
>> transposed el ;  and leads certain Woodds and Scotts to indulge in a d
>> or a t too many, and certain Mathewsons and Jacsons in a t or a k too
>> few. It would be useless now to inquire why the then representatives
>> of these families did not reform their spellings when their neighbours
>> did. One perhaps despised new fashions, another might choose to spell
>> his name as his fforeffathers did. A third might obtain property
>> bequeathed to him by such a name and might wish to keep himself
>> distinct from another family of like name who had adopted modern
>> spelling. Whatever was the reason, no man can be blamed for spelling
>> his name as his family have done, though of course when modern
>> spelling has once been adopted by a family, to return to the old would
>> be affectation.
>>                     ***
>> In the old law hands, the capital F was always represented by two
>> small f's ; and this custom prevailed amongst engrossing clerks and
>> writers in attorneys' offices to within the last forty years, and in
>> some instances even later. Hence those unacquainted wit the law hands,
>> seeing their names spelt in a deed (perhaps not fifty years old) with
>> what they supposed to be a double f, have, under the idea that this
>> double f was something unusual, and that their name was thereby raised
>> above a common herd of other names beginning with F, assumed the two
>> /small/ letters, instead of the capital F, by way of initial, and thus
>> arose this harmless absurdity.
>> How ridiculous it would seem to spell "ffrance" with two small f's ;
>> and yet there is exactly the same authority for this mode of spelling
>> the name of that empire, as there is for "ffarington" and "ffolliott."
>>          M. D. W.
>>                      ***
>> The duplicated /f/ at the commencement of these names has its origin
>> in the form of the capital /F/ in MSS. of the fourteenth and fifteenth
>> centuries, ff, which is usually retained in the Old English type, and
>> may be readily be mistaken for the double /f/. It bears no analogy to
>> the /Ll/ of the Spanish, nor to that of the Polish, nor, to come
>> nearer home, of the Welsh.
>>          ARTERUS
> http://bit.ly/dvrTIT
> The Gentleman's Magazine, October, 1836, Minor Correspondence, p. 338/2
>> G. I. begs to leave a notice a recent instance of vain affectation. An
>> Irish Peer, Lord French, whose family name is also French, writes the
>> title with two /efs/, viz. Ffrench. The origin and absurdity of this
>> may be easily shown. Formerly when in proper names, or any word
>> beginning a sentence, the initial letter was *f*, it was common,
>> particularly in the law hands, to write it with a double f, thus ff,
>> such being then the mode of making that letter a capital in
>> manuscript. This having been observed in old leases or other documents
>> by some person of little experience in chirography, it was doubtless
>> caught at as an eminent distinction, though it has no meaning
>> whatsoever. With respect to that Welsh name Lloyd, and some Spanish
>> names, which begin with a double /el/, they are pronounced by the
>> natives differently from words beginning with a single /l/.
> http://bit.ly/c96dpJ
> Notes and Queries, 8th Series, Volume III, 14 Jan. 1893, p. 24
>> Origin of the Double F as an Initial (See 8th S. ii. 456)--
>> This subject having been mooted in 'N. & Q.,' I am glad to have an
>> opportunity of saying a few words, as the genesis of the initial /ff/
>> was not mentioned in my 'History of the Alphabet,' nor so far as I am
>> aware, has it been explained in any palæographical work. It is not
>> correct to say, as at the above reference, that "the capital /F/ is a
>> combination of two small /f/'s, the curl of the middle being the
>> remnant of the second /f/." Our capital /F/ is, like our other
>> capitals, a return to the Roman lapidary form, which was used in MSS.
>> written in what are technically called "square capitals." At the same
>> time, it is perfectly true that in the "set Chancery hand" of the
>> fourteenth century a capital /F/ takes the form /ff/, which appears to
>> consist of two small /f/'s ;  but if we trace this form backwards for
>> some two hundred years, it will be found that what appears to be the
>> second small /f/ is in reality merely a prolongation of the verical
>> tick at the extremity of the upper horizontal bar of the capital /F/,
>> thus giving a form somewhat resembling a capital /H/ with a cross-bar
>> at the top. It is this elongated tick which has been mistaken for a
>> second /f/. People who spell their names with /ff/ are merely using
>> obsolete law hand. Mr. Jones might just as reasonably spell his name
>> as Iones. From the "set Chancery" hand came the later "court hands,"
>> in some of which, as well as some copy-book hands, there is "a curl in
>> the middle of /F/," which may be considered as the survival of a
>> fragment of the downward tick at the at the end of the upper bar of
>> /F/, which got attached to the end of the middle bar ;  but, as our
>> printing types have not have not descended from the law hands, the
>> tick at the end of the middle bar of our capital /F/ is, in fact, the
>> tick of the Roman "square capital."
>>          Isaac Taylor.
> http://bit.ly/dzw6QI
> http://bit.ly/bElOQ3
> Willis's Current Notes, Volume 82, October 1857, p. 78
>> Origin of the word Fleta
>> In Brooke's Biblitheca Legum Angliæ is embodied a general account of
>> Laws and Law-writers ;  among them under King Edward the First is
>> noticed--Fleta, seu Commentarius Juris Anglicani. ... Selden published
>> the work in 1647, from the only known manuscript, then in the
>> Cottonian library ;  but as the author is wholly unknown, some doubts
>> have arisen as to the above assertion respecting the origin of the
>> word Fleta, which may be a corrupt phrase caused in the following manner.
>> The double F or Ff is used in law books to signify Digestum, the Ff
>> being in fact no other than a corruption or error of the copyists, and
>> by them substituted for the D of the German text, or of the
>> Court-hand, the initial of Digestum. Hence the first letter of the
>> word Fleta to signify Digestum. The fourth letter, that is to say the
>> t, was originally the rectangular g, and the stroke at the bottom
>> being obliterated or obscure, the remainder would resemble the Greek
>> Gamma or [], which the copyist might mistake for a T. Restoring the
>> whole on these assumptions it would read thus--Ff. Leg. A., implying
>> Digestum Legum Anglie, which the Tract being Digest of the Laws of
>> England, is its proper title.
>     VS-)
> On 2/9/2010 8:53 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>> 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.  But I am willing to
>> receive and evaluate more recent evidence -- or to speculate that she
>> thought of the early modern period as the dark middle ages when
>> compared to her own high Victorian era of scientific historiography.  8-)
>> On the other hand, this very day I came across the transcription of
>> New Englander Giles Firmin's 1639 (1640 N.S.) letter to his
>> father-in-law, John Winthrop (yes, the governor). ...
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"––a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
–Mark Twain

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list