Author Topic: Use of <ɔ> as abbreviation in older European philology?  (Read 5443 times)

Online Daniel

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Use of <ɔ> as abbreviation in older European philology?
« on: September 14, 2014, 04:21:37 PM »
I've come across the symbol <ɔ> in several texts written in German or Scandinavian languages from about the 1800s. I have no clues about why it is used that way or what it means. I'm guessing it's something like "or" or "i.e". Any ideas?

As an example, here's the end of a paragraph of examples in a book in/about Danish/Norwegian from 1848:
Quote
... el. han va ve (ɔ: ved).
Rough translation: "... or he was with (ɔ: with)."

I'm attaching an image of that text (see the end of the first paragraph).


Note: it's entirely possible that this has nothing to do with the IPA symbol, but it certainly looks like it and doesn't appear to be any other symbol I've seen or any letter in any European alphabet.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2014, 04:25:32 PM by djr33 »
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Offline MalFet

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Re: Use of <ɔ> as abbreviation in older European philology?
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2014, 07:03:29 PM »
I'd have to look this up to be sure, but I seem to recall that there is an old scribal abbreviation that looks like this for either con- or contra-. I believe it is intended to be a backwards c rather than an open o. I have no idea if that's what's happening here, or if it makes sense in context.

Online Daniel

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Re: Use of <ɔ> as abbreviation in older European philology?
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2014, 07:52:10 PM »
Seems plausible.
The only thing I could find online was that it is a very old scribal abbreviation for 'with' (com-?) in Irish. So that would make sense. A backwards C is logical, and might technically be a different character in Unicode, explaining why I got no hits online.
What would "con-" or "contra-" mean in that context?


Edit: there is a different Unicode symbol: <ↄ>
Apparently they were introduced in Roman times: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claudian_letters


That didn't reveal any specific explanation of what the symbol means, but it does appear here, in a Swedish text (p231):
http://uu.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:233382/FULLTEXT01
Quote
Nu sa sem <hann uill þetta/þetta uill> ly
giligt kalla. þa lesi han fyrri historiam scholasticam. en hann segi þetta þann logit hafa eðr diktat sem snarat hefir (Stjórn 40.30–32)
[Den som nu vill kalla detta lögnaktigt, må han då läsa Historia Scholastica innan han påstår att den har ljugit eller diktat som har vänt [ↄ: översatt].]
Quote from: Google Translate
[Anyone want to call this a lie, let him read the history Scholastica before he claims to have lied or dictation that has turned [ↄ: translated].]
It appears to mean something broad like "note".
« Last Edit: September 14, 2014, 07:58:53 PM by djr33 »
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Offline MalFet

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Re: Use of <ɔ> as abbreviation in older European philology?
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2014, 07:59:10 PM »
I couldn't do more than guess here, since I can't read the text, but is there some kind of contrast being drawn between "ve" and "ved"?

Online Daniel

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Re: Use of <ɔ> as abbreviation in older European philology?
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2014, 08:18:16 PM »
My best guess is that it's saying they're equivalent in this context, possibly even that 've' is a misspelled version of 'ved'. So it might mean something like [sic]+correction. Or just that they're both possible.
I don't think 've' is a separate word, just a variant. But my 1800s Danish knowledge is basically nonexistent unfortunately.
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Offline freknu

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Re: Use of <ɔ> as abbreviation in older European philology?
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2014, 12:53:30 AM »
Some consonants have a habit of disappearing finally, so in this case literary "veð" (from Old Norse við, viðr "at; with" from Proto-Germanic *wiþr "again; against") becomes "ve" in speech; similar to how Swedish literary "med" becomes "me" in speech.

I don't think I've seen these "Claudian" letters before, though.

And EGADS am I horrible at reading blackletter!

Online Daniel

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Re: Use of <ɔ> as abbreviation in older European philology?
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2014, 03:54:51 PM »
Quote
And EGADS am I horrible at reading blackletter!
I think it's incredibly difficult, especially with the not so perfect scans. The worst ones were the <y> (as in 'Fylde') and <x> (as in 'ex'=example) symbols, which didn't appear too often and had me confused for about 20 minutes. In fact I was only convinced of the values I had assigned those letters after I finished translating the paragraph :)
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Online Daniel

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Re: Use of <ɔ> as abbreviation in older European philology?
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2014, 11:35:07 PM »
Hmmm... more uses of the strange symbol on pages (by the same author as in the first post) here:
https://archive.org/stream/norskordbogmedda00aase#page/920/mode/2up
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Offline freknu

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Re: Use of <ɔ> as abbreviation in older European philology?
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2014, 07:08:40 AM »
It might be a bit of a stretch, but the Tironian "et" <⁊> was fairly common in Old Norse manuscripts, I think. Perhaps it was later used to introduce notes with "and, also".
« Last Edit: September 17, 2014, 07:31:31 AM by freknu »

Online Daniel

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Re: Use of <ɔ> as abbreviation in older European philology?
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2014, 07:26:44 AM »
The backwards C is an et? That's as good a guess as any. What I don't understand is why there would be a special symbol used so rarely. If it just said "c" and no one knew what that meant it could just be a strange author. But a backwards C that no one else knows? That's a really strange author :)
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Offline freknu

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Online Daniel

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Re: Use of <ɔ> as abbreviation in older European philology?
« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2014, 08:38:24 AM »
Ok, so it looks like the meaning is 'con' or 'contra', as MalFet thought earlier.

Also found here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scribal_abbreviation
Quote
Letters lying on their sides, or mirrored (backwards), often indicate female titles, however, a mirrored C, Ɔ, stands generally for con or contra (the latter sometimes with a macron above, "Ↄ̄").

So I guess in this case it means "as opposed to" (contra) in the sense of "as a vernacular form of", so "ve" is used instead of "ved"?
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Offline freknu

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Re: Use of <ɔ> as abbreviation in older European philology?
« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2014, 09:00:03 AM »
"ve" is used instead of "ved"?

Seems like the best conclusion so far!