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Contractions and Abbreviations

In medieval manuscripts, the spelling of nouns and verbs was often shortened to save transcription space and work. To avoid confusion and ensure proper identification, symbols such as "-," "~," "o" were added above or within some alphabetical letters in shortened words. Numerous methods were used for shortening the spelling of words including: (1) retaining the beginning of a word and omitting the rest (truncation); (2) omitting the middle of a word (contraction); (3) adding "-," "~" or "o" to indicate the omitted letters and their positions; (4) omitting the ending of a word and adding a symbol; and (5) replacing the entire word with a symbol. There is such a variety of methods that J.L. Walther, an 18th-century paleographer, compiled a dictionary of abbreviations. A. Chassant, A. Cappelli, A. Pelzer and other scholars have also gathered various examples of abbreviations and compiled dictionaries.

Contractions and abbreviations

Printers of incunabula strove to reproduce medieval manuscripts as they were, and therefore, contractions and abbreviations were also printed as they were. For this reason, types of letters with symbols as well as types for non-alphabetical letters were created. The figure on the left-hand side shows the example types used for contractions and abbreviations from a set of the types used by C. Kachelofen, called "Typ. 3."

The following section shows some examples of contractions and abbreviations.

  • Abbreviation of Quia is an abbreviation of "Quia," and Abbreviation of Quare is an abbreviation of "Quare."
  • Usually the vowels with a line attached above such as Abbreviation of am or an, Abbreviation of em or en, Abbreviation of im or in, Abbreviation of om or on, and Abbreviation of um or un means that "m" or "n" is omitted after the vowel. For example, Abbreviation of a, m, am, or an represents "amen" and Abbreviation of c, um, or un "cum."
  • Also the following six consonants, gの前後に文字が省略されている字, mの前後に文字が省略されているm字, nの前後に文字が省略されている字, pの前後に文字が省略されている字, qの前後に文字が省略されている字, and rの前後に文字が省略されている字 with a line attached above indicate that some letters before and/or after the consonant are abbreviated. For example, a, gの前後に文字が省略されている字, i represents "augusti," b, mの前後に文字が省略されている字 "beatum," d, nの前後に文字が省略されている字, i "domini" and t, pの前後に文字が省略されている字, s "tempus." Particularly, pの前後に文字が省略されている字 often represents "pr(a)e," qの前後に文字が省略されている字 "quae" and rの前後に文字が省略されている字 "re." For example, pの前後に文字が省略されている字, t, e represents "prete," qの前後に文字が省略されている字, d, Abbreviation of am or an "quaedam" and rの前後に文字が省略されている字, s "res."
  • Abbreviation of ergoの is an abbreviation of "ergo," but there is also the use of Abbreviation of ergo, s, s, o to represent "grossos."
  • Abbreviation of quo is an abbreviation of "quo," and Abbreviation of quo, d represents "quod."
  • Abbreviation of dicit is an abbreviation of "dicit," but there is also the use of Abbreviation of dicit, i, e to represent "divinae."
  • Abbreviation of hic is an abbreviation of "hic," but it is also used so that Abbreviation of hic, t represents "habet" and p, Abbreviation of hic, e "philosophiae."
  • Abbreviation of lis is used as in t, a, Abbreviation of lis to represent "talis," and used as in Abbreviation of lis, r to represent "legitur."
  • Abbreviation of tre is an abbreviation of "tre," and Abbreviation of tre, s represents "tres." When Abbreviation of tre is placed at the end of a word, it becomes an abbreviation of "-ter."
  • Abbreviation of ter is an abbreviation of "ter," and Abbreviation of ter, r, e represents "terre."
  • Abbreviation of ut is an abbreviation of "ut."
  • Abbreviation of per or par is an abbreviation of "per" or "par." Abbreviation of per or par, e represents "pare" and Abbreviation of per or par, m, Abbreviation of per or par "parumper."
  • Abbreviation of pro is an abbreviation of "pro." Abbreviation of pro, b, a, t represents "probat" and Abbreviation of pro, b, Abbreviation of em or en "probem."
  • Abbreviation of papa is an abbreviation of "papa," but it is also used to represent "populo" as in Abbreviation of papa, Abbreviation of lis, o.
  • Abbreviation of propter is an abbreviation of "propter," but it is also used to represent "prope" as in Abbreviation of propter, e and "propheta" as in Abbreviation of propter, Abbreviation of hic, a.
  • Abbreviation of qui or quod is an abbreviation of "qui" or "quod." For example, Abbreviation of qui or quod, Abbreviation of dicit represents "quoddam."
  • Abbreviation of quam is an abbreviation of "quam," and Abbreviation of quam, v, i, s represents "quamvis."
  • Abbreviation of que is an abbreviation of "que" and is used at the end of a word. For example, Abbreviation of qui or quod, Abbreviation of que represents "quodcumque."
  • Abbreviation of quoque is an abbreviation of "quoque."
  • Abbreviation of et is an abbreviation of "et."
  • Abbreviation of rum is added to the end of a word to indicate that "rum" is omitted.
  • Abbreviation of com or con, あるいは, Abbreviation of us or is is used as an abbreviation of "com" or "con" when it is placed at the beginning of a word, and as an abbreviation of "us" or "is" at the end of a word.
  • Abbreviation of us or um is used as an abbreviation of "us" or "um" when it is placed at the end of a word.

Shown above are some examples of contractions and abbreviations chosen from a set of the type fount used by C. Kachelofen named "Typ.3." There are other forms of contractions and abbreviations also used in incunabula. For more information, see A. Cappelli's Lexicon abbreviaturarum; dizionario di abbreviature latine ed italiana (1929; 6th ed. 1990).

Aristotle's Problematica, presented in the section "Incunabula Collection," reads as follows, if the abbreviations are filled in:

Incipiunt Propleumata Arestotelis.
[O]Mnes hominess naturaliter scire desiderant scribit
Arestoteles princes philozophorum primo metha=
phisice cuius causa potestas redidi talis Quia omne ens na
turaliter appetit summa perfectionen et similiter conatur se associare
primo enti diuino et immortali inquantum potest. ut quia scientia
est de perfectione intellectus humani. ergo omnes hominess na=
turaliter scire desiderant. Rursus et alia ratio est. Nostra quodcumque
ens naturaliter appettit bonum vt se conseruare potestas in rerum na=
tura. sed quia omnis noticia scientifica est de numero bonorum ho=
norabilium vt patet primo de anima. ergo naturaliter omnis
homo scire desiderat Et ex consequenti omnis scientia inquantum
intellectui humano est possibilis est adquirenda. Quamuis
igitur quelibet scientia sit perserutanda magis tamen illaque est
nobilior et communior alijs scientijs. sed quia philozophia na=
turalis confert maximas delectations vt patet. quarto Ethi=
corum. ergo preceteris scientia philozophica diligencius est in=
quirenda Etiam propter alias causas Nam presens scientia est
filiaris scientie naturali quir ipsa clarificat animan ipsa facit delec=
tari in hoc seculo. vt dicit Arestoteles in libro de pomo et
morte qui etiam intantum clarificat hominen vt ipsum primo enti
diuino et immortali assimilari laborat. teste seneca in epistola in
talia prorumpens verba Hoc mihi philozophia promittit vt
sumopere me deo parem reddit Libet igitur de animalibus corpora=
libus presertim de corpore humano ex pluribus artificialibus
codicibus propleumata colligere Et est primum tale.
Queritur quare inter omnia animalia homo habet faciem
versus celsum eleuatam Respondetur multipliciter. Primo Quidam
est ex voluntate ipsius creatoris et quamuis illa responsio
sit vera non tamen videtur valida in propositio. quia sic facile
est omnia soluere Secundo respondetur quod omnis artifex opus
suum primum facit deterius. et post hoc opus suum secun=
dum melius et sic deus creauit bruta animalia primo. qui=
bus dedit faciez de pressam ad terram inclinatum. Et secundo
Aij
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