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Re: Varsa vs. Barsa - Long S

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  • amiak27
    ... Some family members were listed as Varssa, or Varsfa with the second s an uncrossed f, but the V was always legible. ... Marilyn, I suspect the
    Message 1 of 5 , Jul 2, 2006
      --- In SLOVAK-ROOTS@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.straightdope.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"
    • Marilyn Hertenstein
      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.
      Message 2 of 5 , Jul 3, 2006
        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"






        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Bill Tarkulich
        The issue appears to be a case of simple clerical error based on the information you exhibit. Ship manifests were written at the port of departure by the
        Message 3 of 5 , Jul 3, 2006
          The issue appears to be a case of simple clerical error based on the
          information you exhibit.

          Ship manifests were written at the port of departure by the shipping
          company; specifically, the ship's Purser. The US Dept. of Commerce mandated
          that the shipping companies complete these manifests and hand them over at
          arrival. The US immigration officials for the most part reviewed the
          information on the manifest and brought up specific issues as points of
          interrogatory and examination at Ellis Island or similar immigrant
          processing stations. US Immigration Officials were only allowed to modify
          manifests when clearly an error was identified. US Immigration stations
          also employed a wide variety of interpreters and had no agenda for
          "Americanizing" names.

          Now, consider ports of departure. Here, we have a Slovak immigrant, often
          illiterate, sitting in a foreign port, oftentimes Germany trying to say
          their name, surname, village name and so on in a Slavic Language to a
          typically Germanic Purser. Do you remember your grandparent's voice? How
          heavy the accent was was. Errors such as you describe do not surprise me.

          For further reading:
          http://www.iabsi.com/gen/public/EIDB_Errors.htm#Other
          At the bottom of the page are links to the following topics, written by the
          US INS:
          * An essay about immigrants' tendency to change their names
          * How did immigration change immigrants' names?
          * What information is found on Alien Registration Records?
          * What are these numbers written on a ship passenger manifest?
          * When and where did INS collect ship passenger manifests?
          * Where can I find out about a certain immigration/nationality law?
          * What was a Declaration of Intention?
          * What was a Petition for Naturalization?
          * What was a Naturalization Certificate?
          * What different kinds of citizenship records did INS create after 1906?
          * Why are there so few naturalization records for women before 1922?
          * Immigration and Naturalization Legislation (1790-1996)

          Bill Tarkulich

          P.S., Regarding "Varsfa" - this is old style cursive. A double-"s", that is
          "ss", was always written like a modern day "sf"

          -----Original Message-----
          From: Marilyn Hertenstein [mailto:mjhertenstein@...]
          Sent: Sunday, July 02, 2006 10:18 PM
          To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: [S-R] Varsa vs. Barsa

          I would like the opinions of my fellow list members on this one. My
          grandfather's names was Andrej Varsa. I have seen the LDS films from the
          Church in Teplicksa, and the name was clearly VARSA. Some family members
          were listed as Varssa, or Varsfa with the second "s" an uncrossed f, but
          the"V" was always legible. His immigration papers all had VARSA on them,
          and that is what the family always went by. In my search the manifest on
          Ellis Island, I finally found him listed as Andras BARSA, arriving Dec. 11,
          1906. Originally, I discarded the spelling as the usually explanation of
          foreign sounding name, etc etc., but now I'm starting to wonder if there is
          more to the exchange of the letter V for the letter B. Has anyone else come
          across this occurrence. What do the members think of this?

          Opinions please.


          Marilyn


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




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        • Antal Burjan
          Hello Marilyn, A brief and general explanation that may work, though: certain consonants frequently change place with each other through ages or when a
          Message 4 of 5 , Jul 3, 2006
            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"

            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]






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            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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