When Did English Lose the Long Letter S?

Above is a selection from a 1711 printing of Milton’s Paradise Lost. Notice that what appears to be the modern letter f appears in the place of the modern letter s. This is the “long s”–a typographical practice of past centuries. When did it fade away? Evan Soltas used Google’s N-gram function to assess when “Paradife Loft” became “Paradise Lost”. This is what he found:

The switch occurred over a century spanning 1750-1850. Read on…

More about the long s.

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Posted on July 7, 2012, in Languagewatch. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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