From: Philippe Verdy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri Jan 04 2008 - 17:43:14 CST
Dominikus Scherkl wrote:
> James Kass schrieb:
> > In the definition for atténuant, the text reads:
> > "... verdünnend (e? Mittel..."
> > What is that Fraktur symbol? Is it an ampersand?
> No, it's a round "s", somewhat enlarged to say that it's
> a word of neutral gender (singular is with the "s", plural without)
Some other interesting ligatures to consider are those used in Old French
(or Old Catalan) such as:
* The "de" ligature where the "e" was marked on the top of the "d" top arm,
by curving it and closing it in a small curl at the top. This curl later
evolved into a ligated apostrophe (d’) before the apostrophe was detached.
* The old form of the exclamation point, which was initially written only at
the beginning of the sentence (like it is still now in Spanish, however
today Spanish writes it in to vertically mirrored forms, at both the
beginning and end of the sentence) in a form quite similar to a capital J
but with a descender (the dot of the exclamation was initially ligated and
written below the baseline using some "decorative" curl on the left side,
and the vertical stem was doubled, a thick one and a narrow one side by
* The "pro" (or "per"? this depends on the way the word was actually
pronounced by various speakers) ligature (which car occur also in the middle
of a word or as a word prefix like in "profontd" that became "pfontd" before
becoming "fond" in today's French), written like a p with a horizontal
stroke cutting the descender, quite similar to a underscored p (however,
typographical underscores should not cut the descenders of letters).
There may exist in fact lots of unstudied ligatures in medieval scripts,
that were used up to the 17th Century in France, until the French language
started to have their orthographies fixed by the French Academy, influencing
also other languages of France, when the Academy tried to unified the
various spelling by dropping old letters that were no longer pronounced or
not always written or where those letters, if present, were only written
with various ligatures).
As long as printing was not widely developed and used, the work performed in
various regions used lots of conventions, depending on the preferences of
the copyists or writers, and the influence of their regional spelling and
accents of the same words.
I think this will be the case for almost all languages in the world before
the wide development of metal printing, and the massive use of typewriters
in administrations, requiring it even for legal texts or official documents
made by notaries or État-Civil registries (even those made initially by
churches). The orthographies were finally fixed only when book publishing
became much less expensive and newspapers became popular in almost all
cities, and when public schools became free for all children with an
official school program and an official letter forming taught in schools
(and their use required in public exams).
But before that, writing was known by too few people, and used mostly for
their private correspondence, and adopted lots of different styles. It was
not perceived as a problem, but instead as a feature acting like a signature
from the author, used to authenticate them (for example the King Louis 14th
of France had his own writer during most of his reign, and was the only one
allowed to imitate the "script of the King", who just had to apply his
personnal seal to finalize it, and using this script was strictly forbidden
for use by everybody else).
So, if you look closely into the history, you'll find probably as many
ligatures as authors, because this were part of their signature! This must
have also influence the fact that the design of metal types were also
protected very early (even before the protection of many other proprietary
rights like trademarks) and this protection of type design still remains in
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