Why Does the Letter ‘S’ Look Like an ‘F’ in Old Manuscripts?
It might resemble an “f,” however that’s in fact a “lengthy s” in “Congress.”
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If you have actually ever before had the enjoyment of checking out a centuries-old manuscript, like an initial transcribed duplicate of the UNITED STATE Expense of Civil liberties or a first-edition printing of John Milton’s epic “Paradise Lost,” you might have stumbled over an unknown letter: the lengthy s.
To modern-day visitors, the lengthy s (created as ‘ſ’) may make you believe you’re capturing misspellings or typos like “Congrefs” rather than “Congress” or “Loft space” rather than “Lost.” Look more detailed though and also you’ll see that, unlike an f, the personality either has no bar or a nub on the left side of the personnel. Though it might appear even more like an f, the letter is simply one more variant of the lowercase s.
Where did the lengthy s originate from and also why has this personality greatly went away? John Overholt, a manager at Harvard College’s Houghton Collection, informed Live Scientific research that the lengthy s come from handwriting and also was later on embraced in typography when publishing came to be extensive in Europe throughout the Renaissance. [Why Do People Hate Comic Sans So Much?]
The lengthy s can be mapped back to Roman times, when the lowercase s regular took a lengthened type in cursive writing in Latin. According to curators at the New York Academy of Medicine, individuals were making use of the lengthy s at the start and also center of words by the 12 th century.
The lengthy s and also the extra acquainted brief s stand for the exact same audio, and also the guidelines for making use of lengthy s versus brief s differed gradually and also location, Overholt claimed.
Several of the rules created in English consisted of not making use of the lengthy s at the end of a word (” success” comes to be “ſucceſs”) and also not making use of the lengthy s prior to an f (” transfuse” comes to be “transfuſe”) and also constantly making use of the brief s prior to an apostrophe.
Overholt claimed that while there might have corresponded requirements for making use of the lengthy s, these guidelines were additionally a little approximate, like the guidelines that regulate capitalization.
” There’s a typically set method in an offered time and also location wherefore comprises basic capitalization, however it’s altered dramatically gradually within the English language, and also today, as an example, the guidelines in English and also German are definitely various,” Overholt claimed. (In German all nouns, not simply correct ones, are taken advantage of, to ensure that “nature” comes to be “Natur,” as an example.)
The lengthy s began to be viewed as archaic in the late 18 th century, Overholt claimed, and also it started going away. Various resources condemn various individuals for the fatality of the lengthy s.
In France, author and also printer François-Ambroise Didot deserted the lengthy s in his brand-new extra modern-day font around1782 Not long after, the English bookseller and also author John Bell omitted the long s in his versions of Shakespeare’s messages, thinking that it would certainly protect against complication with the letter f and also maintain the lines of the message extra open aesthetically.
Completion of the lengthy s was fairly sudden in English printing, taking place around 1800, however the personality remained a little bit much longer in the UNITED STATE Beyond manuscripts and also antique publications, you may just run into the lengthy s in German, where it lives as one fifty percent of the “Eſzett,” or dual s personality (created as ‘ß’).
Initially released in Live Science