3.414 old spellings, cont. (37)

Thu, 31 Aug 89 00:05:17 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 414. Thursday, 31 Aug 1989.

Date: Wed, 30 Aug 89 15:19:00 EDT
From: Tom Thomson <tom@prg.oxford.ac.uk>
Subject: Old and New Spellings, Thon

I find it rather amazing that people can find old spellings, or at least modern
"old" spellings, hard to read. "Ton" or "Thon" in German, "anglais" or "anglois"
in French, "almanac" or "almanack" in English, are all pretty obvious. I find
no problem with them, and I'm certainly not a linguist. The German example is
really amazing, certainly "th" as an older spelling for "t" was covered in high
school in my day as otherwise it would have been impossible to attack almost
any German literature at all (the text books used "t", but anything that
counted as "literature" had to have been written by someone who had been dead
for at least 50 years so would use "th"); even reading Wagner libretti gets
one into that spelling pretty quick. So I very much liked Steven Clausing's

Concerning FLANNAGA@OUACCVMB's remark on holograph manuscripts, some caution is
neccessary. If anyone tried to deduce my spelling preferences by reference to
my manuscripts they would reach a lot of wrong conclusions. Abbreviations may
be used in a manuscript whose intended audience is author and typesetter (or
secretary) only, with a convention that the latter will expand them.

As for old spellings in one's mother tongue, surely a specialist in literaure
(or in language) ought to be able to cope easily with spellings that differ
from the modern accepted standard by nearly as much as those presented in
excercise books every day to the average grade school teacher? That should
take us back quite a few centuries in English, French, or Gaelic (and
presumably in other languages too, but I haven't read enough to know).