A note on f116r

Studies of punctuation in manuscripts is difficult and nothing too definite can be said apparently.

Still, I’d like to record the following small observation (possibly made earlier elsewhere, but I couldn’t find it then):

there are two points on the last cross of the two-line “prayer” on f116r, that’s the one after the word ‘maria’ and the points are top right and bottom right corner.

It looks to be original, not a later emendation.  So, it could act like a final ‘full stop’ punctuation.

Now, the link mentionned above says colon punctuation appeared “in the late 14th century to mark either a full or a medial pause”. So at least nothing anachronistic here, since the VM was made after that.

It perhaps doesn’t help much to identify who wrote that text (the peculiarities of the letters, like the funny shape of the ‘a’, are probably a much better lead).

But, perhaps, if we’re lucky, this kind of final-cross-with-punctuation is something a bit wider, let’s say something specific to a certain region, or religious order, rather than just a particular scribe.  If I ever find another instance somewhere, I’ll mention it here.


9 Responses to A note on f116r

  1. nickpelling says:

    It’s tricky – you’re right on the edge of signal/noise here, what with the last ‘+’ looking like it might be emended. Personally, I’m just as fascinated by the trail of dots (tears?) under the first ‘a’ of ‘maria’. 🙂

    • Thomas Sauvaget says:

      Yes, it’s probably just a detail really. As for the trail of dots, is it under the ‘a’, or perhaps above the final ‘o’ (ink color matches better there)? In any case, it’s quite puzzling indeed.

  2. I cannot see the dots, but if there were three of them I should like to know.

  3. ignore previous comment. I think this line of dots is the way the m/s indicates the end of a passage. It is used again in the astronomical section. The convention is indicative, I think. In old Tamil and Brahmi works, I’ve see three dots used to indicate terminus, but not a line like this. I’ll hunt it.

  4. Coptic manuscripts usually use two dots, but here’s an example where in one case three dots are used. The same ms has crosses scattered through: not uncommon

    I’ve also found an old Khmer inscription where the end of each paragraph (only) is marked by two concentric circles, the outer given a fringe of equally spaced lines. Makes the whole look like a child’s drawing of the sun. (No picture, sorry).

    • Thomas Sauvaget says:

      The VM is clearly of european origin, marginalia included, so I’m not really interested by comparisons with manuscripts from too far away, in fact.

  5. It’s perfectly reasonable to have no interest in the manuscript except as an object. I tend to think more in terms of what it is about, since its manufacture in medieval Europe tells us nothing about its content, origin, peculiar script, nor subject-matter.

    Being interested in its content, as well as its form, I do tend to consider broader horizons. No criticism of either of us, I think.

  6. I might add, though, that the influence on western monasticism, and scribal traditions, of regions at least as distant as Coptic Egypt, Armenia and Ireland is widely accepted, as I rather thought you’d know. The adoption of the colon in Europe is attributed to direct influence from Coptic Egypt, where it is first attested, just as the use of the red dot in Ireland came from the same source. Comparative study is not unusual, I think.

  7. thomas spande says:

    On the point of punctuation. Armenians used the colon as we would a period. However much early Armenian has none at all and the ends of paragraphs indicate the end of a sentence. Spaces between sentences indicate where a period would have gone. Cheers, Tom

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