Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Feb 13 20:10:02 UTC 2010

At 9:44 AM -0500 2/11/10, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>An interesting comment from N & Q, 1855 via GB (I hope I'm not duplicating
>someone's earlier post: have lost track):
>"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 is but a corrupted form of the *single *Old English *capital *letter
>ff, as in the word ffollow, &c. Perhaps the capital letter is in its origin
>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 single F. I
>have seen the name " Foster" written in the following way - "Ffoster." This
>is a step farther in affectation.

If I'm not mistaken, nobody on this thread has yet mentioned best-selling autho
r of time-travelling tongue-in-cheek novels (_The Eyre Affair_, _The
Well of Lost Plots_), Jasper Fforde.  According to the wikisite,

"Fforde was born in London on 11 January 1961. His father was John
Standish Fforde, the 24th Chief Cashier for the Bank of England
(whose signature appeared on sterling banknotes during his time in


"His works usually contain various elements of metafiction, parody,
and fantasy. None of his books has a chapter 13 except in the table
of contents where there is a title of the chapter and a page number.
The page number is, in fact, the page right before the first page of
chapter 14."

Maybe overcompensation for having a name beginning with Ff-

--Llarry (as I'm known in Wales)

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

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