Tittles and Scriptorium Monks
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Fri, 17 Apr 98 19:19:13 -0700
Subject: Tittles and Scriptorium Monks
Forwarded-by: Jens Alfke <firstname.lastname@example.org>
[forwards busy dotting "i"s and crossing "t"s]
On Thu, 16 Apr 1998, email@example.com (Carl Edlund Anderson) wrote:
Whence the dot on the lower-case "i"? It doesn't appear in medieval
lettering, that I know of?
The dot began life as a very thin stroke, similar to an acute accent,
written above the stem of a lowercase i in mediaeval textura (square
blackletter) manuscripts. The purpose of the mark was to distinguish the i
from the near identical stems of an adjacent n, m, u, et al.
On a related note, scriptorium monks amused themselves by coming up with
words made up entirely of almost identical vertical strokes. When written
in a compressed textura hand with tight letterspacing such words become
completely illegible. The following is may favourite example, although the
l, o and t in the last word make it an impure sample:
mimi numinum nivium minimi munium nimium vini
muniminum imminui vivi minimum volunt
which roughly translates as:
The very short mimes of the snow gods do not wish
at all that the very great burden of distributing the
wine of the walls will be lightened in their lifetime.
Scriptorium monks didn't get out much.
John Hudson, Type Director
© 1998 Peter Langston