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scriptura continua

Subject Linguistics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631214816.1999.x


Writing without word separation. This term usually refers to Greek and Latin epigraphic monuments and manuscripts which were written in this manner, although in the earliest Greek inscriptions word boundaries were marked by interpuncts ( Figure 5 ). There is general agreement among reading Figure 5 Scriptura continua: two lines from a manuscript of Virgil in rustic capitals specialists that word separation facilitates reading. Why then was this simplification of the reading process ever given up, to be reintroduced only in the early Middle Ages? Two main factors were responsible for this development. First, while word separation was essential in the Semitic consonant scripts, the addition of V letters to the north Semitic alphabet that the Greeks adapted to their language made it possible to dispense with word separation in writing. The text could still be interpreted, although the reader had to take over what formerly was the writer's task, to divide the written string of letters into words. Second, in antiquity, reading was typically aloud and not associated with the swift consultation of books. Rather than speed, scrutiny was valued. Many texts were recited over and over again. Since the message of a text was recovered through oralization, reading was still a practice which was closely associated with rhetoric. It was only when reading material became more plentiful and the ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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