Fri Feb 12 18:14:04 UTC 2010

> From: Dave Wilton

> My paleography working group met today and I put the
> question of the
> medieval ff to them. One member said he had found it in a
> late-16th century
> MS of the Chester mystery plays (I can get an exact cite if
> anyone cares).
> So if you are using a generous definition of "middle ages"
> it could fall
> within that category. It seems the practice began in the
> very late middle
> ages or early early-modern period.

To add to this, with regard to other MSS from the same period.

Words beginning with "ff" seem to be widespread in the three major late medieval Scottish Manuscripts -- Asloan (1513-42), Maitland (c. 1560) and Bannatyne (1568).  Various initial-ff word-forms are found (e.g. FFLEAND, FFRA, FFINIS, FFOLOWIS FFRA FFOR [et alia, extensively)

Initial "ff" word forms seem to occur both at the beginning of lines and medially, but *by far* the commonest form found is FFOR at the beginning of a line.

[CAVEAT:  The above comments are highly impressionistic, and should be checked if anyone wants to use them.  Further, they are based on the transcribed texts of the MSS available from the Oxford Text Archive, taken from the STS editions of the MSS made circa (I think) the 1920s.  The transcripts themselves are generally considered to be excellent, but unfortunately the OTA provides them entirely in UPPER CASE.  <sigh>  (The physical copies of the STS editions are more normally presented, but I don't have them to hand.)

I couldn't find facsimiles of any of these MSS on the Web, but there is a beautifully-clear printed  facsimile of Bannatyne published by Scholar Press which is fairly readily available in libraries.]

One stanza from a poem by John Lydgate might be useful as it both (apparently) exhibits the "ff" form, and is also included in a variety of manuscripts (including Bannatyne):

      Disceit disceyuyth & shalbe deceyvid
      ffor who bi disceit is deceyvable
      Thofe his disceit be not owt perceyvid
      To such a deceyvour deceyt is retornable
      ffraude quyt with fraude is guerdon coverable
      Thofe fraude of defraudour be not son owt fownd
      To such a defraudour yet sha frawde shall ay rebound

(Source: Oxford, Bodleian Library Auct. 7.Q.2.21)

This can be found in 13 manuscripts, and the "ff" forms as transcribed above seem to be present in all the MSS.



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