33

We should first recognize that there was not one system of punctuation in use during Classical times. However, all of modern punctuation, including commas, periods, colons, semicolons, etc. are more recent, not just for Latin, but for European languages as a whole (and in fact worldwide, as e.g. Chinese borrowed the question mark). Not only that, but word ...


31

Why did Roman authors never feel a need for word spacing? An interesting question because the Romans certainly accepted the notion of word division, at least until about 100 AD, at which point Romans adopted scriptio continua in imitation of the Greeks, a move that at least one scholar has called a “deplorable regression”. This word division had been ...


24

(The following is based on Wallace 2011, The Latin alphabet and orthography and Edmondson 2015, Inscribing Roman Texts: Officinae, Layout, and Carving Techniques) Wallace observes that Most Latin documents, regardless of type, had very little in the way of punctuation (p. 22). Archaic Latin. Written mostly in scriptio continua (i.e. often no word ...


14

After the great answers here, I would like to share the contents of a paper I found on this topic Hodgman, A.W., "Latin equivalents of punctuation marks", The Classical Journal, 19 (7), 403–417, 1924. The author argues that although there was no systematic use of punctuation in Classical Latin Latin sentence structure has very clear equivalents ...


13

It is called the interpunct. Empty space to separate words as we do now is not a universal phenomenon. Just as well the Romans might ask why we leave space between words instead of putting a dot in between or spelling all the words together. The dots mark word boundaries, but I am not sure if they are added more for legibility or similarity to ancient ...


11

The first thing to note when looking at passages and remarks by Romans about “punctuation” is that it is not always clear at first glance whether they are discussing elements of oral delivery or written marks in a text. “Punctuation” or pungere, after all, simply means to puncture or create a gap which can apply equally to oral or written discourse. There ...


9

Roland Hinterhölzl (2009) Information Structure and Language Change p. 177 (via Google Books): Roman scribes would usually operate by "copying texts in scriptio continua – that is, without separating words or indicating any pauses within a major section of text (Parkes 1993: 10). Separation by spaces first appears in the Insular area (see Saenger 1997: 84-...


9

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 ...


9

According to scholars, the earliest written sign ever argued to play the role of an interrogation mark comes from a VI century Syriac manuscript, and passed later into Latin. My intuition is that, in this case too, necessity is the mother of invention. Especially in antiquity, it is not very likely that a mark for which there was no special need made it ...


8

As we all know, the Romans did not have punctuation. Modern (and not so modern) editions of Latin books generally follow the typographic norms of the country where they are printed. For example, Latin texts published in France and Germany use lower-case initials for adjectives derived from proper nouns (latina, like latin, lateinisch), while those published ...


5

While I don't know about the history of proponents and critics of this punctuation style who have explicitly discussed it, like you and others here I've also noticed it has been very common to use this style of punctuation, with a heavy use of commas, in Latin for some centuries now. You're only asking about what the rules are though, and that's easier to ...


5

This doesn't quite make the 1900 cutoff, but: Arcadius Avellanus, born Mogyoróssy Arkád in 1851 Hungary, is said to have been the last native speaker of Latin. In 1878 he emigrated to the US, where he became a Latin teacher, advocating (evidently with not much success) living Latin. I looked through his translation, published in 1918, of Guy de Maupassant'...


5

Hmm. I find your analysis elegant and alluring, but I wonder whether it's simpler than that—could it be working from two slightly different senses of vetāre? You're far more versed in the lexicon here than I am, so I'm really just offering this as something that occurs to me in case it didn't occur to you, not as any kind of authoritative answer. Could it ...


4

The typesetter just used extra space before some of the commas to help get the text block properly justified on the right edge. So [space],[space] is completely equivalent to [no space],[space]. You should typeset without the space before the commas. Update: When interword spacing is used for justification, one of the longstanding standard principles in ...


3

It seems to me that there's a strong reason to take quod non potuere vetare with the following line, namely, that their parents could and did forbid it! The whole point of the story is that their parents forbade the marriage, which is why it all ends in tears. It would be strange to say "They would have got married, but they didn't, because their parents ...


2

It is probable that most written text were not punctuated at all. The main punctuation used in inscriptions (on monuments, sculptures, etc.) was a central point · or interpunct, by opposition to the low point we currently use) to separate words, or to separate initial letters of abbreviations (eg S.P.Q.R.). Large inscriptions you can see in Rome ...


1

The problem, here, may be one of flow. The separation of the "sed" & "quod" clauses works: hard truth: (another) hard truth; it's punchy, driving the story forward; consequently, the "quod" clause flows into the next line: they-could-not-forbid-(therefore)-both-burned.. Your own translation: "but the parents forbade what they could not forbid.", sounds ...


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