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Salve! In a book from 1483 there is an abbreviation or glyph I have never seen before. As the book is in Latin, I figured LatinSE was the place to ask. Has anyone ever seen this, and—more importantly—what does it mean? Also, if someone knows the Unicode codepoint for it, I would appreciate. It is the character after “inuicem” that looks like an f mixed with an h.

enter image description here

EDIT: I had originally written the book was from 1492, but it is from 1483. Also, I found a 14th-century manuscript version of it. Here’s the image of the same part from that manuscript. enter image description here

Oddly enough, later in the book, the same strange sign appears in the printed version, but is different in the manuscript: here, it’s the fourth character from the right: enter image description here …ista scripta fuerint ?din…

It does look like the ligature sc from “scripta,” but I don’t see what it would be… scdin? Makes no sense…

2 Answers 2

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This appears to be an excerpt from the Alphonsine tables (Tabulae astronomicae Alphonsinae), found in particular on p. 70 of the 1483 edition by Erhard Ratdolt in Venice. I think it helps to consider the broader context, which I would transcribe as follows (my bolding):

Ideo cum intras tabulas mensium si annus in quo es non fuerit bisextilis intra in superiori numero mensium. Si vero annus est bisextilis & festum mathiæ transiverit. id est transiverit locus bisexti quia illa dies est bisextilis intra in tabulam inferiorem: hoc facto adde omnia ad invicem secundum artem dictam in algorismo deminutiis. Et ut plenius pateat quod dico pono exemplum: [...]

There is one word that I cannot make sense of: festum mathiæ = feast day of St. Matthew? This paragraph appears to specify how to handle leap years, and directs the reader to look up an alternate table in that case and enter that second number into the computation. Considering an even broader context should reveal what exactly this means; at present I am not clear what kind of algorismo deminutiis = reducing / diminishing computation this refers to.

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    @Pierre Paquette An annotated French translation of the Alphonsine tables appears to be available: Emmanuel Poulle, Les tables alphonsines avec les canons de Jean de Saxe. Édition, traduction et commentaire. Paris: Éditions du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1984. 246 pp.
    – njuffa
    Feb 24 at 22:21
  • I know about it. I have found a copy of it yesterday and have ordered it, with delivery expected in a few weeks. I will definitely understand better then! Feb 24 at 23:29
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    @Pierre Paquette In the meantime, this (legitimate, best I can tell) online version should do?
    – njuffa
    Feb 24 at 23:31
  • Absolutely! I must have overlooked it, as I was looking for a PDF of it and couldn’t find one. THANK YOU! Feb 24 at 23:34
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    @Pierre Paquette I am pleased I could be of help. Asking on Latin Stackexchange was OK, but in the future you might also want to consider asking such questions on History of Science and Mathematics Stackexchange, assuming the book in question has a science context. There might even be participants there who are familiar with the domain-specifics aspects of the computation discussed in the book. It would also help to identify the sources you are referring to with as much detail as possible (and ideally, include a link to a scan). In this case I spent ten minutes tracking down the likely source.
    – njuffa
    Feb 24 at 23:46
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I have found the answer to my question! It is a long s with a diagonal stroke, ẜ, unicode 1e9c. It is mentioned (without saying what it stands for) on Wikipedia at Scribal abbreviation; the last image in the examples at the bottom of that page, viz. this image, mention it’s a short for “secundum,” which would not make sense in the case of my book, but it must have had other meanings as well…

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    What's the bigger context? Based off the small snippet secundum could definitely fit in: "...to each other according to the aforementioned art..."
    – brianpck
    Feb 24 at 20:44

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