09/26/05 - variant spellings

In today's excerpt - many individuals today especially entertainers are spelling their names using significant variations of conventional spelling. This is historically common:

"One of the more striking features of life in the early colonial period is how casual people were with the spelling of their names.  Sir Walter Raleigh for instance changed the spelling of his surname as one might change a shirt, sometimes styling himself Rawleyghe, sometimes Rawley, sometimes Ralegh.  His friends and associates were even less specific, addressing him Ralo Ralle Raulie Rawlegh Rawlighe Rawlye and some sixty-five other...variants.  The one spelling he apparently never used is the one most commonly applied to him today:  Raleigh.

"Abraham Lincoln's ancestors are recorded in early church and property rolls in such forms as Lyncoln Linccolne and Linkhorn; Jefferson's as Giffersonne and Jeffreson; and Andrew Jackson's as Jaxon Jackeson Jakeson and Jakson.  John Winthrop, first governor of Massachusetts (or Masathusets, as it appeared on the first colonial-minted coins, place-names being equally subject to orthographic variability) sometimes styled himself Wyntropp which is in fact how he pronounced the name..."


Bill Bryson


Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States


First Avon Books


Copyright 1994 by Bill Bryson


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