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ff (formerly the Stubbins ffirth thread)

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Barbara-B
827007.  Sun Jun 26, 2011 6:48 pm Reply with quote

Guys, you're making me blush - don't stop :-)

@Celebaelin superficially you'd think that might be the case, but these are English language surnames (as used by Scots and Irish English speakers at the time too) and the records show that before the "fashion" for capitalisation came along these families were quite happy with their single f initial.

 
soup
827078.  Mon Jun 27, 2011 5:41 am Reply with quote

Barbara-B wrote:
the records show that before the "fashion" for capitalisation came along these families were quite happy with their single f initial.


But only f?
I can think of no case were a lower case letter starts a surname, apart from the particular case of ff.
Cue lots of examples of surnames beginning with a lower case letter that isn't an f, or ff.

Added bit

There must be lots of letters where the Upper case and lower case letters (especially written) look the same eg Cc Ss Xx Yy Zz Uu Vv Oo

 
Barbara-B
827090.  Mon Jun 27, 2011 7:08 am Reply with quote

soup wrote:
Barbara-B wrote:
the records show that before the "fashion" for capitalisation came along these families were quite happy with their single f initial.


But only f?
I can think of no case were a lower case letter starts a surname, apart from the particular case of ff.
Cue lots of examples of surnames beginning with a lower case letter that isn't an f, or ff.

Added bit

There must be lots of letters where the Upper case and lower case letters (especially written) look the same eg Cc Ss Xx Yy Zz Uu Vv Oo


No, perhaps I've explained it badly. Before the late middle ages nobody's surname began with a capital letter - capital letters did not exist. The letter examples you cite are different, the capitals are ascenders and the lower case are not - very different, and besides that are the modern forms rather than the medieval forms, some of which were quite different from modern forms (English medeival C for example looks more like a danish than a letter to modern eyes) . There was no appreciable difference between majuscule and minuscule "f"s in English language handwriting in that era which is why the "ff" initial letter is unique.

"ff" is a survival from the period of transition between a single minuscule alphabet and dual alphabets with majuscule and minuscule forms of each letter.

Does that clarify the first post?

 
soup
827100.  Mon Jun 27, 2011 7:46 am Reply with quote

Barbara-B wrote:

There was no appreciable difference between majuscule and minuscule "f"s in English language handwriting in that era which is why the "ff" initial letter is unique.

"ff" is a survival from the period of transition between a single minuscule alphabet and dual alphabets with majuscule and minuscule forms of each letter.

Does that clarify the first post?


Not really It still doesn't explain (to me anyway) why only F (or the medieval equivalent) is rendered today as ff why not (say, I do not know if there was a medeval s or how it was written) S as ss etc[1] . There are bound to have been (medieval) letters were the letters looked the same as their dual alphabet majuscule form.
So people whose names began with one of these same looking "replacements" would have written their name with the single miniscule alphabet character repeated rather than move to the double alphabet majascule version.

[1] wasn't a "lower case" s written as an f without the short cross/stroke?
A bit like :-

 
Efros
827148.  Mon Jun 27, 2011 10:06 am Reply with quote

that was the long s, typically like mi∫take

 
Barbara-B
827203.  Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:15 am Reply with quote

@Efros. Indeed, it was a graphic variant, the use of which in any particular script was aesthetic rather than prescribed. In German the letter which has the sound value of /ss/ originates from a long s followed by a short s; ∫ + s = . Another variant, dropped when "arabic numbers" became widespread was ""S-final" which was written as "8".

@soup. I've gotta ask, have you actually read my 1st post in this thread on page two or did you just jump in the middle? Everything you've brought up was dealt with there. As for you finding it hard to believe that f was the only initial letter with this problem, perhaps you're looking at modern script such as this (which is based upon Renaissance "Humanist Hand" which it turn is based upon a combination of "Carolingian Minuscule" and "Trajan Capitals") and trying to apply its visual rules to Tudor era Secretary Hand?

 
soup
827302.  Mon Jun 27, 2011 3:18 pm Reply with quote

Barbara-B wrote:


@soup. I've gotta ask, have you actually read my 1st post in this thread on page two


Yup. the font thing (a capital F looks like two fs ) doesn't grab me either.

Barbara-B wrote:
As for you finding it hard to believe that f was the only initial letter with this problem, perhaps you're looking at modern script such as this (which is based upon Renaissance "Humanist Hand" which it turn is based upon a combination of "Carolingian Minuscule" and "Trajan Capitals") and trying to apply its visual rules to Tudor era Secretary Hand?


Must be. I still find it impossible, not hard, impossible to believe this only happened with f. But then I am no linguist/lexicographer/whatever an expert on medieval scripts are called.

 
Barbara-B
828638.  Sun Jul 03, 2011 10:42 am Reply with quote

Palaeographers, soup, palaeographers.

This sort of thing happens all the time in the organic growth of a natural language writing system.

Does "impossible" mean you do not want to know how this happened to f and not the other letters?

 
soup
828652.  Sun Jul 03, 2011 11:42 am Reply with quote

Barbara-B wrote:
Does "impossible" mean you do not want to know how this happened to f and not the other letters?


No. It means I find it impossible (ok not impossible e-e-e-extremely hard) to believe this only happened to f not I don't want to know how this only happened to f .

 
JonRichfield
981495.  Wed Mar 13, 2013 12:47 pm Reply with quote

Barbara, I am new here; got steered hither by a Welsh correspondent. I loved your explanation and profited mightily. Unlike another correspondent I had no difficulty in accepting the substance of your palaeography, and much strength to your elbow, say I!
Cheers,
Jon

 

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