Placita de quo Warranto is the 1806 printed transcription of latin legal texts from around 1300 written on vellum. There are many abbreviations. The 1806 document in its preface gives an example transcription page with the same page printed from an 1806 engraving reproducing the original orthography. Here are transcribed and engraved versions of one paragraph from that example:

transcribed and original latin

All of the abbreviations in this example are documented in Capelli's The elements of abbreviation in medieval Latin paleography. In particular, the abbreviation mark on the p for pre or prae is mentioned in section 4.1 at the top of page 20 of Capelli. Here it is in use in the example:


The same flamboyant loop on top of the p can be seen in this handy list of some latin abbreviations. And it is also used on some other letters:


Wikipedia's scribal abbreviation page has an example embedded in an image: enter image description here

but I can't actually find how that text was created. Anyway, that feeble mark hardly represents the flamboyance of the original. It may even be the Unicode COMBINING US ABOVE U+1DD2 which seems to be quite a different mark in the original scribal text with quite a different meaning.

Is there a Unicode combining diacritical mark to allow composition of something like the flamboyant flourish on the p?

  • The description of the image in Wikicommons gives the solution: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Latin-breve.svg ; it's: ꝕᵭoꝝ – Luc Nov 2 '16 at 17:40
  • That doesn't seem right. The description there uses the precomposed character ꝕ LATIN SMALL LETTER P WITH SQUIRREL TAIL U+A755 which doesn't look anything like the picture. And a breve doesn't look like the picture either: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breve – emrys57 Nov 2 '16 at 18:32
  • Perhaps "p" + U+1DCE Combining Ogonek Above, or "p" + U+1DE3 Combining Latin Small Letter R Rotunda? – Draconis Nov 2 '16 at 18:57
  • 1
    U+1DCE is more like it, thanks! p᷎ But still tiny, in all the fonts I have, compared to the bold flourish in the original. It doesn't really do the job. – emrys57 Nov 2 '16 at 19:06
  • @emrys57 However, according to French Wikipedia, ꝕ corresponds to the medieval abbreviation of prae. Perhaps the image has been made with some special font? Unfortunately, the user doesn't remember which. – Luc Nov 15 '16 at 16:40

According to the Wikipedia article you mentioned, this abbreviation for præ is described as:

p̄ (above) – prae, pre- (alternatively a mark similar to -us comma above, but with a small spiral glyph, could be used for this meaning, and is also valid above the letter q)

So your solution with COMBINING US ABOVE U+1DD2 seems to be the right one…

E.g. this example of the book you quoted could be typed as:


p᷒datꝰ (With U+A770 MODIFIER LETTER US ꝰ for the abbreviation us (Ꝯ)).

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I've encountered a similar problem in a 16th century treatise published in Poland (for more info cf. https://github.com/jsbien/Zaborowski-index4djview):

enter image description here

As for COMBINING US ABOVE U+1DD2 in Unicode, it was proposed in L2/05-183 with the following justification:

COMBINING US ABOVE is used for medial and final usin man᷒ manus‘hand’, medial os in p᷒t post ‘after’, ꝕ᷒pitus praepositus ‘prelate, leader, governor, prevost’

At first I thought the answer to the title question is positve. However Peter S. Baker pointed to me that the character is present in the MUFI specification as F1C8 COMBINING ABBREVIATION MARK ZIGZAG ABOVE CURLY FORM (in my opinion quite a misleading name as it is definitely not a zigzak).

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