I'm continuing reading Cappelli's The elements of abbreviation in medieval Latin paleography, and early on he discusses medieval truncation signs. There are three types used:

  • An interpunct (first sign), which was not used much in medieval Latin.
  • Strokes through the last letter of a word (second to fourth signs).
  • Ligatures added to the final letter of a word (final three signs).

The differences in use between the three classes is clear, but I'm not sure about the different connotations between signs of the same class (save for first one and the last three, which Cappelli deals with shortly afterwards). Specifically, what is the difference between the second, third, and fourth truncation signs?

By "connotations", I'm referring to anything about the declension/conjugation of the word, its pronunciation (unlikely), the precise meaning, or some other related difference.

  • I don't have a source for this, or even a place where I learned it, but I'm fairly certain it relates to the pause after the word -- if it's treated as though the word would have ended there, if it's a slightly longer pause, etc. (like the difference between , and ;)
    – anon
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 19:19

1 Answer 1


Cappelli is the most reliable source in the field of Latin palaeography. What he says in the description of the signs of truncation also matches my experience. So there are hardly any different connotations at all, except that some of the signs are used more frequently to indicate that certain specific letters have been omitted. Quoting Cappelli:

The first truncation sign, a dot or period, is gen­erally placed after the abbreviated word and is still in use today with the same meaning.

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Of the other signs, the first three are cross-strokes cut diagonally through the last letter of the abbreviated word, ...

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In my experience, there is no difference whatsoever between these three signs. It's just that some scribes use straight lines while others make them curly, etc. Or the same scribe might even vary between different shapes. There was a lot less uniformity in premodern handwriting.

... while the last three are tails that form a ligature with the final letter.

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Although the next to the last sign can be used to indicate simply the omission of any final letter(s), it is used especially to indicate the dropping of the ending -is.

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The third sign from the last is usually joined to the letter d to indicate the endings -dum and -dam, or the syllable dis.

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