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    Re: Transcribing old text, and long-esses
    From: Lu Abel
    Date: 2009 Oct 19, 09:29 -0700
    The long form of the letter S has been around for a long time.   I found an article that showed the type font Gutenberg used in printing his bible (which was in Latin) and it definitely contained long esses.   Gutenberg's font is what we (at least in the English-speaking world) would today call "Old English" or "Gothic" -- really blocky, thick letters (as opposed to thinner, more flowing "Roman" fonts (such as Times Roman) that we see in everything from newspapers to word processors today).

    I'm not a linguistic or writing historian, but I'll speculate that the long S came into English via its Germanic roots.   Germans used a Gothic-looking font with long esses up until the 1950s or 1960s.    My high school German language textbook (from the late 1950s) is all in that old-style font.   You can also see it in things like street and building signs in the newsreels of Germany from the 1930s and 1940s.

    And that leads me, at least, to have a problem with people using Fs as a substitute for the long S -- some of us have been trained to read the characters properly and actually stumble over the substitution.

    When did the long S go away?   To the best of my knowledge, in the late 18th century.  Contemporary printed copies of the American Declaration of Independence from 1776 use long esses.   But contemporary printed copies of the American Constitution, adopted in 1789, do not.   I suspect it was a somewhat long transition depending on local desires ("bring back the long S!") and "why throw out a perfectly good set of type just because it has long esses."

    Brad Morris wrote:
    Here from the advert page of Mariner's Compass Rectified, I find the word DEFENFIVE.  I agree that the intention is to have it read as an S, so the word should be transcribed as DEFENSIVE.
    However, the printer of this book is clearly using the typeface for F and not S, as one can reference both letters in the same word.  Interesting choice of word, because I guess I am just a bit defenfive  (hehehe) about this critique.  Should the spelling errors be corrected as well?  Should I correct the obscure language?  Bad grammar?  How far would one go before the document is just an epitome (a condensed account, esp. of a literary work) and not a transcription?
    My choice has been to type the letters as I see them.  Unfortunately, there is no long-ess in the font anymore.  Substituting an F for the long S preserved the look of the document and  it is readily understood to read S.  However, I will bow to the wishes of the group and transcribe them as requested.
    Best Regards
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