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Mystery letter

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Mystery letter

Postby benissimus » Mon Dec 15, 2003 7:30 am

I know some of the Medieval letters are a bit unusual, but does anybody know what the symbol that looks like a cursive, lower-case Z is? I see it every now and then in Medieval Latin and am trying to remember. It is the reason why "videlicet" was shortened to "viz"... that's all I can remember.
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Mystery letter

Postby Lisa » Mon Dec 15, 2003 6:09 pm

According to the OED:
"The z represents the ordinary med.L. symbol of contraction for et or -et."
vidzt. was an alternate abbreviation.

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Postby benissimus » Mon Dec 15, 2003 6:43 pm

Hey, thanks.
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Postby Moerus » Mon Dec 15, 2003 8:38 pm

I really don't know what you mean with this 'z'. Is there a cursive 'z' like that somewhere on the internet, so that I can see what you mean. Although I must have seen this before.

What stands OED for? Oxford E... Dictionnary?

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Postby benissimus » Mon Dec 15, 2003 9:02 pm

Sorry for this not so great picture, but it shows some of the symbol:

Look especially on the bottom left or wherever it says &ounce;
Image
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Mystery letter

Postby Lisa » Mon Dec 15, 2003 9:36 pm

Hi,

OED= Oxford English Dictionary, the authority for things like usage and etymology. As you can see, the word itself need not be English, just used in English.

A similar "z" may be found here:
http://www.adobe.com/type/browser/F/NTRQ/F_NTRQ-10005000.jhtml
in the fourth row, third letter after the title: it is the lowercase "z" for this particular font.

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Postby Moerus » Mon Dec 15, 2003 11:09 pm

O now I see, thank you for the clarifications.
This is an orthographic variant of '&'.
& is called the tironic sign, cause it is invented by tiro, the secretary of Cicero. Tiro had to use a stenographic systeme to write things really fast. So he used soms ligatures. A ligature may be seen as a combination of two letters but written together, one letter in an other. Anyway they have soms lines in commun. & in fact is an 'e' with a 't', but the 't' is written upside down and is attached to the 'e'. So this tironic sign was used in Latin for the word 'et' but also for the lettercombination '-et-' as in val& for valet, etc. Later this sign is used in other languages for 'and, und, en, et, e, ... (the words for 'et' in each language)'. In English, Dutch, ... this sign is also called an 'ampersand'. This is because the English used to end their alphabet with 'x y z and per se ent (and)'. So this 'and per se ent' became ampersand / ampersant.
& is only one form for writing this. In other writings it has an orthographical variant that looks like a 'z'.

If you want to figure out abbreviations in manuscripts, their is a little book for that:

Dizionario di abbreviature latine ed italiane, by Adriano Capelli.
This book gives 531 pages of abbreviations in Latin and Italian manuscripts and their sollutions.

Greetz,
Moerus (in a paleographical mood)
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Postby benissimus » Mon Dec 15, 2003 11:37 pm

Ha. That makes a lot of sense. Nice explanation. 8)
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