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Punctuation in Rome
#1
So here's a thing. I'm digging to find something about punctuation Romans had used.
I know that during late rome texts were solid. No spaces, no dots, nothing.
But I also know that sometimes they had used one verse for one sentence or when the new subcjet was on board, they moved one or two letters, at the begging of the sentence, opposite to our current paragraph.
Around I-II AD they also had used three dots system called Aristophanes' system. There are sources where we see text with words separeted by dot at the half high of letters.
So here is my question. Anyone knows something more about this dots system? It was useles after small letters so there must be someting more, I mean, dot between words is not something what would interrupt reading text with small letters, right? But since this system was about three dots, there must be something else.

Any ideas?
Damian
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#2
Hello

Aristophanes of Byzantium invented a basic punctuation system of dots at different levels around the 2nd century BC; before that the Greeks wrote in scriptio continua, with no punctuation or word breaks. Basic info can be found here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristoph..._Byzantium

The Romans used single dots called interpuncts to mark word breaks up until the late Classical period, and then switched to scriptio continua.

Best
Aidan.

Teacher of Latin, Ancient Greek and Ancient History. All-round fan of all things Classical, especially Military History. Aspiring/dreaming writer of Historical Fiction.
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#3
Any ideas why they had switched from single dots to solid text? I mean, for us it looks like a step back, not forward, especially when you consider that Cassiodorus and few others were saying only in superlatives about dots system.
Damian
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#4
One theory is that, as all things Greek became fashionable under the Antonine Emperors, writing like a Greek became fashionable too and the interpuncts disappeared.

From the point of view of a native speaker and reader of Latin, the single dot word breaks don't make an awful lot of difference to readability. Try reading English text with no word breaks - you'll soon get used to it.

Best
Aidan.

Teacher of Latin, Ancient Greek and Ancient History. All-round fan of all things Classical, especially Military History. Aspiring/dreaming writer of Historical Fiction.
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#5
So if you were is shoes on roman soldier around 3-4 AD, without classic roman education, and lived in times when latin was influenced by germanic languages, how would you prefer to write and read? Solid text? Dots? Or in fact it does not matter? Becasue I can imagine that soldier who was from germania did not use perfect latin.

I guess I need to check some vindoladna texts..

For example, is this a dot between the words? becasue there is dot and defientyl there is a space between the words, but another verse does not look like it have dots or spacebars

[Image: 12463832_1093882243975807_259795284_n.jp...e=568C1D95]

Or this one. When you zoom it, you can clearly see spacebars between words and even some dots but not between every words. Maybe dots were used only at the end of the sentece? And word were splitted by spacebars we can clearly see?

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c...let_02.jpg
Damian
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#6
Hi

That dot on the tablet looks more like part of a letter to me; Roman cursive script can come out like that, especially as these were more informal documents than scribed papyri. Most vindolanda tablets I've seen have very irregular word gaps, if any.

Interpuncts were used in formal texts and inscriptions, but for ordinary, everyday handwriting I suspect the rules were less hard and fast.

For a non-native speaker, the dots would be very helpful - around the beginning of the 1st millennium they'd have been quite likely to be in written text anyway.
Aidan.

Teacher of Latin, Ancient Greek and Ancient History. All-round fan of all things Classical, especially Military History. Aspiring/dreaming writer of Historical Fiction.
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#7
Thanks so much for your answers!

So just for summarize.
If you were 4AD non-native latin speaker living in Germania, it is possible that you would write solid text, but guy next to you could use dots after every word or write solid text with dots at the end of sentece, and another guy could simply leave gaps between words?
I mean, there is no general rule for such people?
Damian
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#8
(01-03-2016, 09:25 PM)AustralianMagic Wrote: Thanks so much for your answers!

So just for summarize.
If you were 4AD non-native latin speaker living in Germania, it is possible that you would write solid text, but guy next to you  could use dots after every word or write solid text with dots at the end of sentece, and another guy could simply leave gaps between words?
I mean, there is no general rule for such people?

Hi

Sorry, I completely forgot about your last question   Blush

Standardisation of hand-writing and spelling is very much a modern phenomenon. In the Roman Empire professional scribes would write with particular conventions, to guarantee the quality for their customers and widespread legibility, but for every-day writing on papyrus (expensive) or tablets (wooden like vindolanda or wax), the only thing you had to do was make yourself understood by whoever was going to read it.

Best
Aidan.

Teacher of Latin, Ancient Greek and Ancient History. All-round fan of all things Classical, especially Military History. Aspiring/dreaming writer of Historical Fiction.
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