Not a miſprint

While looking over a pair of advertisements from a St. Croix newspaper published in the late 1700s (see page four), a Beaconite noticed something odd. In many words, the letter “s” had apparently been swapped for a strange looking “ſ”. “First,” for example, was spelled “firſt,” and “possible” was “poſsible.” Probing a little deeper, the Beaconite learned that this oddly shaped “ſ” was actually the letter “s” written in a style unfamiliar to many modern English speakers but used often at the time. In the 1789 newspaper ads, an “s” at the end of a word was written in the modern style, but an “s” in the middle of a word took the archaic “ſ” form. According to, around the 12th Century, writers began using the long “ſ” at the beginning or in the middle of the word, a practice that became well established by the 15th Century. The round “s,” however, continued to be used at the end of a word. There are many other rules that governed when an “s” should be written in its long form, but this letterform fell from popular usage by the late 18th Century, according to Reading about the form’s fall from prevalence, the Beaconite was left to wonder how the punctuation and spelling of today’s English will be viewed centuries in the future. Will words and grammar even stay relevant, or will emojis overtake written language, morphing the alphabet into some futuristic take on Egyptian hieroglyphics? Only time will tell.



Visa mix-up

In last week’s Budget Address, Premier Andrew Fahie announced a plan to allow visitors who require Virgin Islands visas to buy them for a one-week stay. His words: “To support the growth of visitor arrivals and fill our hotel rooms, particularly with persons with spending power, special visitors’ visas will be introduced allowing certain categories of visitors one-week stays.” This seemingly innocuous plan ignited a torrent of howling, both in online forums and in the real world — at least from people who apparently didn’t take the time to listen carefully and consider what he was saying. For some reason, many seemed to take the statement to mean that all visitors will now be required to buy a visa to enter the territory, even those from countries like the United States who enter visa-free and make up the bulk of visitors. Of course, this is nowhere close to what the premier meant, and is in fact a ridiculous idea that would be guaranteed to do the exact opposite of boosting tourism to the territory. The VI government has been accused in the past of charging visitors excessive fees for entering and exiting, and those charges perhaps do need to be reexamined. However, leaders should be given credit for being smart enough not to pointlessly shoot themselves in the foot at a time when attracting more visitors is more important than ever.


You say ‘tenets…’

An alert reader caught an error in last week’s edition, which incorrectly quoted Second District Representative Mitch Turnbull speaking about the “democratic tenants” of accountability and transparency. The correct word, of course, sounds very similar, but is spelled “tenets.”


In a bathroom?

The United Kingdom Daily Mail recently published an article about two British police officers who allegedly broke a toilet cubicle while having sex on a rescue mission in the Virgin Islands. The headline was catchy, but the real story was about the man who allegedly “snitched,” Derbyshire Chief Superintendent Graham McLaughlin. He was the “gold commander” of a contingent of UK officers sent to the VI to assist after Hurricane Irma, according to the Daily Mail. In September of last year, Mr. McLaughlin was alleged to have sent threatening messages anonymously to the female officer in question, threatening to release details of her sex life. The female officer reported the incident, and Mr. McLaughlin was arrested in October last year. He reportedly tried to argue that he shouldn’t be held accountable for the message at a hearing, citing examples of other officers who sexually harassed their co-workers and other offensive actions. The Daily Mail reported that he walked out of the hearing in a rage. Beaconites suspect this sort of behaviour won’t help his cause, no matter what someone else might have done in a VI bathroom.