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Encyclopedia > Sigla

Scribal abbreviations (sigla) were abbreviations used by ancient and medieval scribes writing in Latin. Abbreviation (from Latin brevis short) is strictly a shortening, but more particularly, an abbreviation is a letter or group of letters, taken from a word or words, and employed to represent them for the sake of brevity. ... Latin is an ancient Indo-European language. ...


Medieval manuscripts frequently used abbreviations.
Medieval manuscripts frequently used abbreviations.

The use of abbreviations is due, in part, to exigencies arising from the nature of the materials employed in the making of records, whether stone, marble, bronze, or parchment. Lapidaries, engravers, and copyists were under the same necessity of making the most of the space at their disposal. Such abbreviations, indeed, were seldom met with at the beginning of the Christian era when material of all kinds was plentiful and there was consequently no need to be sparing in the use of it. By the third or fourth century, however, it had grown to be scarce and costly, and it became the artist's aim to inscribe long texts on surfaces of somewhat scanty proportions. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1500x1011, 310 KB) MARLENE JEANNINE Calligraphy in a Latin Bible of AD 1407 on display in Malmesbury Abbey, Wiltshire, England. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1500x1011, 310 KB) MARLENE JEANNINE Calligraphy in a Latin Bible of AD 1407 on display in Malmesbury Abbey, Wiltshire, England. ... Sedimentary, volcanic, plutonic, metamorphic rock types of North America. ... Venus de Milo, front. ... Assorted ancient bronze castings found as part of a cache, probably intended for recycling. ... German parchmenter, 1568 Parchment is a material for the pages of a book or codex, made from fine calf skin, sheep skin or goat skin. ... A lapidary (the word means concerned with stones) is an artisan who practices the craft of working, forming and finishing stone, mineral, gemstones, and other suitably durable materials (amber, shell, jet, pearl, copal, coral, horn and bone, glass and other synthetics) into functional and/or decorative, even wearable, items (e. ... A copyist is a person who makes written copies. ...

The Romans possessed an alphabet known by the name of Notae Tironienses (Tironian notes), which served the same purpose as our modern systems of stenography. Its use necessitated a special course of study and there is still much uncertainty as to the significance of the characters employed. Inscriptions cut in stone are the most frequent use of abbreviations. At certain late periods - for example in Spain in the Middle Ages, this custom becomes abused to such an extent as to result in the invention of symbols which are undecipherable. The Roman Empire was a phase of the ancient Roman civilization characterized by an autocratic form of government. ... Tironian notes (notae Tironianae) is a system of shorthand invented by Ciceros scribe Marcus Tullius Tiro. ... Shorthand is a writing method that can be done at speed because an abbreviated or symbolic form of language is used. ... The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times, beginning with the Renaissance. ...

Scribal abbreviations have entered the news in the twenty-first century because the recently revived Scottish Parliament needs to find out what the old codes of Scottish law written in Latin say. Those who have learned Latin without having also learned Latin palaeography find these abbreviations incomprehensible. At a recent count, there were well over fourteen thousand abbreviations. For the national legislative body up to 1707, see Parliament of Scotland. ... Palaeography (British) or paleography (American) (from the Greek palaiós, old and graphein, to write) is the study of ancient and medieval manuscripts, independent of the language (Koine Greek, Classical Latin, Medieval Latin, Old English, etc. ...

Abbreviated forms of Latin praedicatorum, quoque, conversis, quorum
Abbreviated forms of Latin praedicatorum, quoque, conversis, quorum


In the best period of epigraphy certain rules were strictly observed. The abbreviations in common use fell under two chief heads:

  • The reduction of the word to its initial letter;
  • The reduction of a word to its first letters in a bunch or to several letters taken at intervals in the body of the word and set side by side.

The latter arrangement was almost conclusively Christian, whereas in non-Christian inscriptions the number of letters left in the abbreviation was more or less limited, yet no intermediate letter was omitted.

Occasionally a phrase which had become stale by constant use and had grown into a formula, was rarely found in any other form than that of its abbreviation (examples: D.M. for Diis Manibus, IHS for Jesus, R.I.P. for requiescat in pace). A Christogram is a monogram or combination of letters which forms an abbreviation for the name of Jesus Christ, and is traditionally used as a Christian symbol. ... Jesus (8–2 BC/BCE to 29–36 AD/CE),[1] also known as Jesus of Nazareth, is the central figure of Christianity. ...

Another form of abbreviation consisted in doubling the last consonant of the word to be shortened as many times as there were persons alluded to, e.g. AVG for Augustus, AVGG for Augusti duo. Stone cutters however, soon began to take liberties with this rule, and, instead of putting COSS for Consulibus duobus, invented the form CCSS. Still, when there was occasion to refer to three or four people this doubling of the last consonant gave way of necessity, in abbreviations, to the simple sign of the plural. A horizontal line over a letter or set of letters was also much used, and was destined indeed, to become almost universal in the Middle Ages. The undulating line, or one curved at each end and rising in the middle only came into use at a comparatively late period.

Abbreviation signs consisted of tildes, macrons, and marks that resembled apostrophes above letters. Other modifications included cross-bars and extended strokes. Such abbreviations were mostly for prefixes and verb, noun, and adjectival suffixes. They are not to be confused with the forms of abbreviation that do not use unusual marks, some of which have survived, such as i.e. and loc. cit. (viz, however, is actually an abbreviation for "videlicet", vi + an abbreviation mark resembling the letter z or the number 3) A tilde. ... A macron, from Gr. ... For the prime symbol (′) used for feet and inches, see Prime (symbol). ... Viz is a method of introducing a list or a series. ...

Besides scribal abbreviations, in old texts one will find some variant characters including digraphs, the long s, and the half r, which are difficult enough to understand. The pair of characters "u" and "v", as well as the pair "i" and "j", were not distinguished from each other in medieval writing. Nowadays, variant letters and the scribal abbreviations are systematically replaced with the full Latin spellings by most publishers who still print Latin works, and the confusable letters are rendered such that the characters "j" and "v" are not used for vowels. Note: This page contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. ... The title of this article is incorrect due to technical limitations. ... Between the middle ages and today, many ways of writing alphabetical characters were lost. ...

One remaining scribal abbreviation is the ampersand (&), for the Latin (or French) word, et, meaning "and." Although in the nineteenth century the way to write an ampersand was taught in primary schools, it is generally no longer mandated. There were several other ways of writing the word et; the Latin Tironian sign "⁊" resembles the number 7, though at x-height, and is still used in the Irish language to denote "and." The roman ampersand at left is stylised, but the italic one at right reveals its origin in the Latin word An ampersand (&, &, &), also commonly called an and sign, is a logogram representing the conjunction and. The symbol is a ligature of the letters in et, which is Latin for and... Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ... Tironian notes (notae Tironianae) is a system of shorthand invented by Ciceros scribe Marcus Tullius Tiro. ... In typography, the x-height or corpus size refers to the height of the lowercase letter x in any font, which is usually the same for a, c, e, m, n, o, r, s, u, v, w, and z. ... Irish (), a Goidelic language spoken in Ireland, is constitutionally recognised as the first official language of the Republic of Ireland, and has official recognition in Northern Ireland as well. ...

Technically, the ampersand (&) is a ligature. When printing with movable type appeared in the fifteenth century, founders made many different ligatures to go with each set of type they produced. Such sets were called "record type." Manuscripts of ancient Greek, a language that entered Western Europe with the Renaissance, used similar abbreviations which had to be converted into ligatures as well. This was to imitate the scribal form of writing to which the readership was accustomed. But the scribal abbreviations did not apply to the vernacular languages of Europe. As works were published in these languages, a development that is often imagined as being due to the Reformation, scribal abbreviations disappeared. In writing and typography, a ligature occurs where two or more letterforms are written or printed as a unit. ... Raphael was famous for depicting illustrious figures of the Classical past with the features of his Renaissance contemporaries. ... The Protestant Reformation was a movement which began in the 16th century as a series of attempts to reform the Roman Catholic Church, but ended in division and the establishment of new institutions, most importantly Lutheranism, Reformed churches, and Anabaptists. ...

This article incorporates text from the public-domain Catholic Encyclopedia. The public domain comprises the body of all creative works and other knowledge—writing, artwork, music, science, inventions, and others—in which no person or organization has any proprietary interest. ... The Catholic Encyclopedia, also referred to today as the Old Catholic Encyclopedia, is an English-language encyclopedia published in 1913 by The Encyclopedia Press. ...



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