|WikiProject Languages||(Rated Start-class)|
Does anyone know the history of f/s spelling substitutions?
I started reading the 1728 Cyclopaedia after stumbling across to a reference to it on wikipedia, and I am finding the usage of the letters f and s to be rather unusual.
Here, for example, is part of the definition for the term "abbess":
ABBESS, the Superior of an Abbey, or Convent of Nuns. See ABBEY, and CONVENT. The Abbefs has the fame Rights, and Authority over her nuns, that the Abbots regular have over their Monks. See ABBOT. The Sex indeed does not allow her to perform the Spiritual Functions annex'd to the Priefthood, wherewith the Abbot is ufually invefted, but there are Influences of fome Abbeffes , who have a Right, or rather a Privilege, to comiffion a Prieft to act for 'em.
Original, scanned page, from the University of Wisconsin digital archive:
There seems to be a definite grammatical purpose, since a capitalized word does not use the f-substitution, and the last letter of a word does not use f-substitution, either. The writer meanwhile is a scholar, so this is not some uneducated commoner making up spelling as he goes along.
DMahalko 11:45, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
- Actually, those aren't f's. What you're seeing is the long s. :) - furrykef (Talk at me) 21:44, 11 February 2007 (UTC)
Old form 
How does one know what is the old form of a word in Modern English?
I refer to the List of English words with diacritics which supposes that many English words (not borrowed words) are properly spelled with diacritics, where as I am inclined to think this is actually an exceptional old form that was derived from selected sources such as personal letters or private publications.--mrg3105 (comms) If you're not taking any flak, you're not over the target. 01:30, 20 February 2008 (UTC)