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15377RE: [S-R] Re: Varsa vs. Barsa - Long S

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  • Antal Burjan
    Jul 3, 2006
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      Hello Marilyn,

      A brief and general explanation that may work, though: certain consonants frequently change place with each other through ages or when a language develops from another. Some typical examples:

      b <--> v - just look at ther mess in Spanish where (mostly in pronounciation, very rarely in spelling) b substituted the initial (Latin) v.

      f <--> p - it is not by chance that even English spell "f" as "ph" so many times. It is a graphical reminder of this phenomenon... fenomenon? Or just consider Tagalog (Filipino) where Spanish (and English) "f"s have been substituted with p (pilipino - for filipino, pranses - for francés, and so on...

      r <--> l - just as in branco (Portuguese) - blanco (Spanish), praça (pt) - plaza (es), and so on...

      Don't think that these changes occur only in the languages I mentioned. Don't think that proper names are not subject to these changes. These (and much more) phonetical changes occur on a universal base and people who speak more languages than I do (or happen to speak other languages) will be able to confirm it and they will surely add several other examples too. So don't bother too much trying to understand the changes in the spelling of your name - just keep a good record of them. I'm not sure I answered YOUR question... however I hope you'll be able to use this general answer too.

      Have a nice day ahead.
      BA

      Marilyn Hertenstein <mjhertenstein@...> escribió:
      Most interesting about the long and short "s", thanks to your friend Cecil
      for the explanation.
      I'm still concerned about the exchange of the letter B for V. Were they
      pronounced similarly?
      Perhaps that would explain why it was written that way on the manifest,
      perhaps the clerk
      heard a B. But then again, I assume passengers must have had papers for
      them to copy from, and
      so that brings up another question that will show off my ignorance, does a
      Slovak, Hungarian or Cyrillic
      letter representing V look anything like a B? (Andrej came from Teplicska,
      near Spisska Nova Ves, now Slovakia)

      Marilyn

      _____

      From: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com] On
      Behalf Of amiak27
      Sent: Sunday, July 02, 2006 11:43 PM
      To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [S-R] Re: Varsa vs. Barsa - Long S

      --- In SLOVAK-ROOTS@ <mailto:SLOVAK-ROOTS%40yahoogroups.com>
      yahoogroups.com, "Marilyn Hertenstein"
      <mjhertenstein@...> wrote:
      >
      > I would like the opinions of my fellow list members on this one.
      Some family members > were listed as Varssa, or Varsfa with the
      second "s" an uncrossed f, but > the"V" was always legible.
      > Marilyn

      Marilyn,

      I suspect the Varssa and Varsfa were spelling conventions of the time
      using what is called the "long s" that looks like aa lower case 'f'.
      I know it was in use in the USA and with European languages using
      either the Cyrillic or the Roman/Latin script, I suspect the long s
      was common in European languages that used the Latin script as well.

      I haven't found my "Written Languages" book and only did a part of the
      homework on teh internet, but check out
      http://www.straight <http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a1_110.html>
      dope.com/classics/a1_110.html

      "Dear Cecil:

      Why was it popular in the 18th century to occasionally substitute the
      letter f (or a reasonable facsimile) for s? What were the rules of
      grammar concerning this usage? Was is Noah Webster who finally put an
      end to this abfurd practice? --Nina G., Chicago

      Dear Nina:

      At last, a chance to show off my encyclopedic knowledge of
      paleography, the study of ancient writing. You have no idea how seldom
      this topic comes up in casual conversation.

      What you take to be an f is actually the so-called long s, also known
      as the medial s, to be differentiated from the terminal or short or
      round s, which we regard today as the conventional form. Throughout
      its history, the long s has always looked a lot like the lowercase f,
      to the extent of having a little nubbin vaguely reminiscent of a
      crossbar appended to its middle sometimes. But the two letters are not
      otherwise related.

      As one might deduce from the nomenclature, the long/medial s was
      supposed to be used in the middle of a word, while the terminal s was
      used to finish one off. (In practice this rule was somewhat
      haphazardly adhered to.) The two versions were phonetically equivalent
      and derived from the same Roman letterform. Why folks figured they
      needed two varieties when they could have scraped by with one is
      beyond me, but we might note that having terminal and middle
      letterforms is not inherently any nuttier than having every sentence
      start with a capital letter, a comparatively recent invention.

      The use of two types of s dates back at least to the Middle Ages. The
      long s became especially popular during the Italian Renaissance, with
      the development of the various "humanistic" scripts that gave rise to
      our present English script. You'll notice that the long f, though not
      the long s, persists in many serif fonts in the type style we now call
      italic, although the long s was used in so-called roman (i.e., non-
      slanty) fonts as well.

      The Italians often used the long s even when they should have used a
      short one because letters with long expressive strokes in them made
      for an artier-looking manuscript. Unfortunately, they also made for a
      manuscript that was near impossible to read, and it's probably for
      that reason as much as any that the use of the long s finally died out
      in the 19th century. The form survived in the formal German script
      Fraktur until Fraktur itself bit the dust after World War II. (The
      script had come to be associated with German militarism.) Can't say
      I'm sad to see it go. Spelling is enough of a crapshoot these days as
      it is.

      --CECIL ADAMS"

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