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    Re: long s character in old text
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2010 Jan 1, 03:05 -0800

    Paul, you wrote:
    "George Huxtable's position was that the modern reader is best served by
    translating ſ to s."

    Just for the record, I'll say again that I agree with George.

    A small point: the verb we probably want here is "transliterate" rather than translate. This is actually very close to a long-standing issue with respect to those excellent sextants from the former Soviet Union: are they SNO-T? (yes) or are they SNO-T? (barbarous!). The reason the latter is so awful is because it picks letters from Western European languages (and for our purposes, that basically means English) which happen to resemble very closely certain characters in the Cyrillic alphabet, which is used in various forms in Slavic languages, most prominently Russian. But the "C" which you will find engraved on one of those sextants is not at all the same letter as the "C" in our word "Cat" and the "H" -ish letter is not the same as in our "Hat". It's NOT a SNO-T, o ye barbarians. It's a SNO-T.

    And likewise, those funny little letters in English publications from the eighteenth century which look like f's are really s's. It's a matter of transliteration.

    One more thing while I'm at it. If you transliterate those old medial s's as f's, at some point down the road, you will be immediately recognized by folks with a more scholarly bent as a neophyte, an amateur. And that's probably the best reason --purely social from a certain point of view!-- for us to tap you on the shoulder and say, "yeah... that's not an f... really it's an s..." Welcome to the club. :-)


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