Questions tagged [orthography]

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

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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 ...
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6 votes
0 answers
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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 ...
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8 votes
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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8 votes
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&...
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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: ...
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7 votes
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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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 ...
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6 votes
1 answer
186 views

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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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3 votes
2 answers
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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 ...
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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 ...
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11 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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12 votes
3 answers
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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 ...
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6 votes
2 answers
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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 ...
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6 votes
2 answers
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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 ...
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5 votes
1 answer
160 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, ...
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6 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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8 votes
1 answer
210 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, ...
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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 ...
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12 votes
1 answer
459 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", "...
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7 votes
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 ...
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8 votes
4 answers
833 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 ...
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50 votes
6 answers
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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 ...
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6 votes
0 answers
260 views

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 ...
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11 votes
1 answer
470 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 ...
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7 votes
2 answers
834 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 ...
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5 votes
2 answers
334 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 ...
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9 votes
1 answer
190 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?
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6 votes
2 answers
485 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.)...
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8 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 ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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10 votes
1 answer
650 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 ...
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10 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 ...
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7 votes
4 answers
510 views

On Macrons and Vowels

Reading LLPSI, I made a list of the proper nouns with macrons in the first lesson of the first chapter: CAPITVLVM PRĪMVM Rōma Eurōpa Germānia Hispānia Āfrica Nīlus Rhēnus Dānuvius We encounter with ...
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5 votes
1 answer
359 views

What are the decimal and grouping marks in modern Latin?

To write non-integer numbers in the decimal system (without fractions), one needs a decimal mark. In English one uses the decimal point, but in many other languages one uses a comma instead. Wikipedia ...
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8 votes
1 answer
311 views

Are θ/þ/th distinct in Etruscan transcription?

While trying to answer an etymological question, I was looking through several different online resources about Etruscan vocabulary. Annoyingly, although these resources use mostly the same ...
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11 votes
2 answers
293 views

-NL- and -LL- in Classical Latin

I just stumbled upon an old meta question about the name of our chat room, and a comment gave me the impression that the classical spelling would be conloquium rather than colloquium. (Let me ignore ...
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17 votes
3 answers
2k views

The Latin word “Have” rather than “Ave” as a translation of the Greek word Χαῖρε?

According to BlueLetterBible, the Latin Vulgate translation of Matthew 26:49 states, The Greek text from the Textus Receptus states, ΜΘʹ καὶ εὐθέως προσελθὼν τῷ Ἰησοῦ εἶπεν Χαῖρε ῥαββί καὶ ...
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9 votes
1 answer
327 views

On two types of S in a text from 1759

I ended up studying this poem last year: This is a congratulatory poem in a dissertation at the Academy of Turku from 1759. It is on page 4 of the full dissertation. I also published an English ...
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8 votes
2 answers
395 views

Deciphering Latin words from a very old book (printed in 1544)

I'm trying to decipher the text in a paragraph from an old Latin book (De facultatibus partium animalium, Basileae, 1544) and it's very difficult. This is my result of the first line and I would like ...
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8 votes
2 answers
641 views

A medieval scribal abbreviation missing from Unicode?

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 ...
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10 votes
1 answer
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Interpretation of circumflex in a poem from 1621

A poem from 1621 contains one ô and one â. The ô is the interjection ô and the â is in the relative pronoun quâ. No circumflexes are used elsewhere in the poem. Does the circumflex (or caret or ...
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