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Questions tagged [orthography]

Conventions of written Latin – including spelling, punctuation, and capitalization

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Was Greek ever written in this way at any time in antiquity?

Are there any extant ancient Greek inscriptions that exhibit all of the following features: scriptio continua (i.e., majuscules letters only, no spaces between words, no diacritics, no punctuation ...
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Which vowel lengths and stressed syllables are marked in the Vatican Lexicon?

I noticed that the following are marked in the Parvum verborum novatorum léxicum: the (ante)penultimate vowel when it is long by nature (ovorum intrīta), the antepenultimate syllable when it is ...
Anserin's user avatar
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Do we ever see mixing of B and V word-initially?

In later Latin, /b/ between vowels merged with /w/, eventually leading to forms like modern Italian avere from Latin habēre. This only happened within a word: illa bucca became Italian la bocca, not *...
Draconis's user avatar
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Why is this Etruscan letter sometimes transliterated as "ch"?

I've noticed that the Etruscan letter 𐌙 is sometimes transliterated as "ch", as you can see in the following image of an information panel in the Hypogeum of the Volumnus family:            ...
Charo's user avatar
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How to write 13 in Roman Numerals (Unicode)?

I know the answer seems trivial but believe me, it is not! In Unicode There are different characters for Roman numerals. For example, one is not i but ⅰ which is a different character; or a better ...
Mehdi Abbassi's user avatar
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1 answer
130 views

Which vowel lengths to mark when writing in Latin?

In my writings, I would like to indicate short and long vowels when ambiguities might arise (mainly between nominative/ablative and vocative/adverb). Is there a common/attested way of doing this ...
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3rd declension accusative plurals

I am being driven round the bend by people’s insistence on “playing Horace on original instruments” and I need some way out of the morass. At school the 3rd declension accusative plural ending was -es ...
Martin Kochanski's user avatar
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When does the letter s after ex- get omitted?

I ask this since there is so much variation in this situation. For example, s after ex- prefixed words mostly gets omitted in later period texts, but can also be found in Vergil's work, despite also ...
VivatLinguaLatina's user avatar
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1 answer
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Use of lunate sigma in scholarly editions

Most Greek scholars are aware that sigma has a few different forms. In most current printed editions, it has a medial (σ) and final (ς) form, even though for a large part of antiquity up to the ...
brianpck's user avatar
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About capitalization "The first letter of a sentence in Latin is not capitalized"

A Latin tutorial said "The first letter of a sentence in Latin is not capitalized." That's strange. And most Latin texts I have seen do not obey that rule. Most Latin tutorials I have ...
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Identifying a Latin abbreviation/symbol

While transcribing and translating some late 17th century Manorial Court rolls I have come across a frequently recurring symbol. I've referred to Capelli's The elements of abbreviation in medieval ...
ColeValleyGirl's user avatar
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When is Latin "qu" transcribed as "κο", "κοι" or "κυ" in Greek?

The most common transcription of Latin qu into the Greek alphabet seems to have been κου in general, but there are some others: κο as in κοις for quis, κοι as in κοιιδ for quid, and κυ as in κινκυε ...
Asteroides's user avatar
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What can we say about the pronunciation of Z?

The letter Z was borrowed into the Latin alphabet in order to transcribe Greek loanwords, along with Y. Presumably, educated Latin-speakers pronounced it like its source, Greek zeta. However, Greek ...
Draconis's user avatar
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The correct use of the breve in Latin

Correct me if I'm wrong. There are 6 diphthongs in Latin: ae au ei eu oe ui So if one were to encounter ăĕ it would follow that both vowels would be short and do not together form diphthong which ...
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Why "auspex" and not "avspex"?

Since the ancient Romans didn't have distinctive letter forms for "u" and "v", how come "avis" is written (nowadays) with a "v" but "auspex" (from ...
onigame's user avatar
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How this phrase could be written in classical latin?

How would the phrase "Vi veri vniversum vivvs vici" be written in Classical Latin? As far as I know, it is by Christopher Marlowe, originally written as Vi veri vniversum vivus vici, used in ...
André Carneiro Costa's user avatar
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1 answer
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Æ ligature – the definitive answer

I have tried a search on the internet, but did not find anything official. I am looking for the definitive explanation of the symbol "æ" in Latin. Is it equivalent to the diphthong "ae&...
Romeo's user avatar
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How can a computer tell the difference between I and J?

Most modern editions don't distinguish vocalic I from consonantal J. Most of the time, this doesn't create any real ambiguity. However, for certain purposes it can be useful to know the difference: ...
Draconis's user avatar
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1 answer
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Are any phonemic distinctions not represented in Latin?

Latin orthography seems to have been relatively phonemic. In other words, if long vowels are marked somehow (macrons or apices), there seems to be a straightforward mapping between letters and ...
Draconis's user avatar
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Ancient Greek: how to distinct true and false diphthongs?

Ok, this is not about false diphthong /ou̯/(ου), 'cause it split with long /uː/ (but anybody know a certain time of this spliting? In Wiki this describes simple "at early times") and ...
TrmIntrs2's user avatar
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More details on the Appendix Probi

Does the Appendix Probi specifically talk about what correct "pronunciation" should be (of the day), or correct "spelling"? Does "Idem non ide" mean that you shouldn't say "ide" or write it? An ...
Paulus Filius Rogeri's user avatar
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1 answer
187 views

How were vowels u and i discerned from consonants v and j?

If in original texts there were no means of distinguishing whether u and i were consonants or vowels, how then do we now know which ones were which? The easy ruleset I learned in high school is that ...
Günther's user avatar
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1 answer
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When/where was <FH> used for /f/?

It's generally accepted that the oldest Latin inscription is on the Praenestine Fibula: MANIOS MED FHE FHAKED NUMASIOI The verb here seems to be an old reduplicated perfect of faciō, equivalent to ...
Draconis's user avatar
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9 votes
2 answers
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Why distinguish u/v but not i/j?

Latin Wikipedia and many other modern (Classical?) Latin texts use "u" for the vowel /u/ and "v" for the consonant /w/, but "i" for both the vowel /i/ and the consonant /j/. This practice is more ...
mic's user avatar
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Variation in the spelling of word-final M

I recently visited the museum of the main monastery of the Carthusian order near Grenoble. I saw this in an open book on display in a former chamber of a monk: What took me by surprise is the ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
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1 answer
172 views

First use of capital letters

The first standard latin script which consisted of both majuscule and minuscule letters (lowercase and uppercase, or small and capital letters) in one word is Carolingian minuscule. It is a fact. But ...
user4840's user avatar
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206 views

Is long vowel feature completely lost in deviated languages?

In Latin, some vowels are marked by a macron, they are long vowels. However, I found that in French and Spanish there's no macron in their writing. Is the long vowel feature completely lost in the ...
zzzgoo's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
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Using "R" to mark vowel length

When messaging a British colleague, I noticed something interesting in the orthography. Where I would write "she killed" as necāvit, she writes necarvit. In a non-rhotic accent, this makes perfect ...
Draconis's user avatar
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14 votes
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When did the Romans start using Z?

Several of my recent questions have touched on the letter Z, which was introduced fairly late to the alphabet (it's disappeared from its Phoenician position and been added back in at the end, in its ...
Draconis's user avatar
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13 votes
3 answers
656 views

Why was Z used in digraphs?

According to this other question, Late Latin used various digraphs with the letter Z in them, for sounds which might have been /ts/, /dz/, and /z/. If the letter Z was used for /z/ at the time, the ...
Draconis's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
263 views

Which Latin word has the most spelling variants?

Not all words have had a single spelling across all eras and contexts. For example, the past participle of the English word "cleave" can be written as "cleft", "cleaved", or "cloven". Rare ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
8k views

Why do many write Latin words with both letters v & u?

The letter V in Classical Latin was pronounced as /w/, unless another V came after it, in which case it'd be pronounced /wu/. Considering this, what would be the need to use both v and u in the same ...
Orange Receptacle's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
209 views

When transliterating from Latin to Greek, what kind of rho is used?

In Latin there is only one type of R and as far as I know the combination RH does not appear in native Latin words. The corresponding Greek letter rho can have two kinds of breathing (rough ῥ, ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
8 votes
2 answers
2k views

How and when did we get two forms of sigma?

The Greek letter sigma (σ) has a different form (ς) when used at the end of a word. This distinction seems unnecessary to me, and it's not clear why it would emerge. Do we know why and ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
236 views

Does "octopus" get a circumflex?

I just learned (from Pé de Leão here) that in Neo-Latin orthography, Latin words that come from Greek names that end in -οῦς get a circumflex in imitation of the Greek circumflex, e.g. Trapezûs, ...
Ben Kovitz's user avatar
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11 votes
1 answer
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Did the Romans ever distinguish long vowels in writing?

In most modern writing of Latin, long vowels are distinguished from short vowels by using macrons (e.g, āēīōū). As far as I know, however, ancient authors rarely, if ever, distinguished long vowels ...
Ethan Bierlein's user avatar
13 votes
1 answer
502 views

Church Latin: when did the orthography change occur?

Sometime around the middle of the 20th century the Latin orthography of official Roman Catholic liturgical books of the Roman Rite switched from "juxta", "Jesus", "Judaei" etc. to "iuxta", "Iesus", "...
igneus's user avatar
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1 answer
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Reading a snippet of 15th century handwriting in Latin

The Lilly library has a Gutenberg bible on display and the page that it is open to varies. This week the page had a marginal comment in it, which is unusual for this particular copy, and I was hoping ...
Noah Snyder's user avatar
8 votes
4 answers
1k views

Origins and point of boustrophedon

I'm a complete tiro in Latin and Greek, and very puzzled by the phenomenon of boustrophedon. Most languages are written left to right, or right to left, but to combine both in the same sentence seems ...
TheHonRose's user avatar
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52 votes
6 answers
36k views

Why is the Roman acronym SPQR and not SPR?

SPQR stands for "Senātus Populusque Rōmānus". It would be logical (at least in English or Spanish) to expect the initialism or acronym to be SPR. However, the first letter of the conjunction "-que" is ...
luchonacho's user avatar
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Reviewing the evidence of the spirantization of β (betacism) in Greek

I originally submitted this question to the Linguistics beta site, and those users recommended that I ask anything related to Greek here. Although I understand that it is impossible to assign a ...
Andonis Neilous's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
591 views

Why sequundus > secundus?

It seems quite clear that secundus comes from sequundus, a gerundive of sequi. But why did -quu- become -cu-? This change is not universal, since some Latin words do preserve -quu-, at least the end ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
949 views

Use of circumflex in Latin: Is there a difference between "hora" and "horâ"?

For example, is there a semantic difference between the two following sentences? Lapis descendit ab A ad B unâ horâ. vs. Lapis descendit ab A ad B una hora. This site, e.g., says The ...
Geremia's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
377 views

What would be the etymologically Greek spelling of 'misogynoir'?

I asked this at another language Stack Exchange but was directed to here instead. I wasn't too sure how best to phrase the title of this question, so hope I can better explain it in this body. For ...
Xbalanque's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
210 views

Is it possible to have a single Latin ligature be majuscule and minuscule?

Context The Latin grapheme: "Œ" is the majuscule ligature of the letters "O" and "E". Is it proper—or in-fact possible—to have part of the ligature be majuscule and the other part be minuscule?
Michael James Carboni's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
636 views

Is there such a thing as "word-[space-comma-space]-word" punctuation in Latin?

I'd like to typeset an excerpt of Metalogicus from Ioannis Saresberiensis. The Patrologia Latina version can be found here (MPL199 – the exact reference of the excerpt is Lib. III, Chap. 4, col. 900c.)...
ebosi's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
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How can I ask the spelling of a word in Latin?

We've already had a question asking What are the classical names of the letters of the Latin alphabet? I am curious to know if, and how, a Roman could ask the spelling of a word. Though Latin is ...
brianpck's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
154 views

Capitalization of adjectives with prefixes

When answering a recent question about the prefix per-, I gave an example of a national adjective (Finnus) with a prefix, to produce Perfinni. If I attach a prefix to an adjective that always starts ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
730 views

What's the deal with Ov. Met. V, 414

I'm writing this Latin verse parser/scanner, and all is fine and dandy until I load up Ov. Met. V. This book features the following verse in my source text, which is usually very good: adgnovitque ...
blagae's user avatar
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11 votes
1 answer
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Did the Romans have a "question mark"?

Were questions in written classical Latin ever indicated by anything other than the meanings of the words1 and the context? That is, was there a "question mark"? Here a "question mark" can mean some ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar