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The Hypothesis

Special characters/abbreviations

  • ȝ (yogh)  Ȝ (capital yogh)                                         

  • þ (thorn)   Þ (capital thorn)   

  • Ꝑ (Per/Par)  <am>Ꝑ</am><ex>Per</ex> or <am>Ꝑ</am><ex>Par</ex> 

  • ꝑ (per/par)  <am>ꝑ</am><ex>per</ex> or <am>ꝑ</am><ex>par</ex>

  • ꝓ (pro ) <am>ꝓ</am><ex>pro</ex>    

  • Ꝓ (Pro)  <am>Ꝓ</am><ex>Pro</ex>                                                

  • superscripts: ᵃ ᵇ ᵈ ᵉ ᵍ ʰ ⁱ ʲ ᵏ ˡ ᵐ ⁿ  ᵒ ᵖ ʳ  ˢ  ᵗ ᵘ ᵛ ʷ ˣ ʸ

  • n̄ m̄ p̄ ā ē ō ū r͗ p̄ p͒ ƚƚ abbreviating nothing 

  • n̄: this requires special treatment

    • No abbreviation n̄ (in̄ upon̄ doun̄ gypoun̄ -- prepositions adverbs nouns in -oun̄)

    • Where abbreviation u+n is possible (condicion̄; nouns in on̄):

      • appears u: <am rend="ū">ıı̄</am><ex>un</ex>

      • appears n: <am rend="n̄">ıı̄</am><ex>un</ex>

      • appears neither n nor u: <am>ıı̄</am><ex>un</ex>

  • ā abbreviating n:   a<am>̄</am><ex>n</ex> 

  • ā abbreviating m:   a<am>̄</am><ex>m</ex>

  • ē abbreviating n:   e<am>̄</am><ex>n</ex> 

  • ē abbreviating m:   e<am>̄</am><ex>m</ex> 

  • ī abbreviating n:   i<am>̄</am><ex>n</ex> 

  • ī  abbreviating m:   i<am>̄</am><ex>m</ex> 

  • ō abbreviating n:   o<am>̄</am><ex>n</ex>  

  • ō abbreviating m:  o<am>̄</am><ex>m</ex>

  • ū abbreviating n:   u<am>̄</am><ex>n</ex>  

  • ū abbreviating m:  u<am>̄</am><ex>m</ex>

  • p̄ abbreviation pe: p<am>̄</am><ex>e</ex>

  • p͒ abbreviation p: p<am>͒</am><ex>e</ex>

  • ȳ abbreviation n:   y<am>̄</am><ex>n</ex>

  •  superscript vowel: usiually r+vowel/vowel+r except for er/re:  --  

    • ar/ra  <am>ᵃ</am><ex>ar</ex> or <am>ᵃ</am><ex>ra</ex>

    •  ir/ri  <am>ⁱ</am><ex>ri</ex> or <am>ⁱ</am><ex>ir</ex> 

    • or/ro <am>ᵒ</am><ex>ro</ex> or <am>ᵒ</am><ex>or</ex>

    • ur/ru <am>ᵘ</am><ex>ru</ex> or <am>ᵘ</am><ex>ur</ex>

    • ur/ru: a special form based on the Latin abbreviation for -ur-  <am></am><ex>ur</ex> (NOTE! may require Junicode font to view)

    • also: au in <am>ᵃ</am><ex>au</ex> (eg eu<am>ᵃ</am><ex>au</ex>ngelist

  • er/re  <am>̉</am><ex>er</ex>  or <am>̉</am><ex>re</ex>

  • final r with a mark that migiht be an abbreviation: eg hir͗  transcribe without the encoding for <am> and <ex>. Only in extraordinary circumstances you might transcribe as hir<am>͗</am><ex>e</ex>, but consult first.

  • ł abbreviation let in łre=letre: <am>ł</am><ex>let</ex> 

  • ⁊ Tironian note <am>⁊</am><ex>and</ex>; 

  • etc   <am>⁊c̉</am><ex>et cetera</ex>

  • ʆ sir/ ser -- <am>ʆ</am><ex>ser</ex> 

  • ƚƚ abbreviating final e: a<am>ƚƚ</am><ex>lle</ex>

  • ꝭ final -is -es <am>ꝭ</am><ex>es</ex>

  • ꝰ us  <am>ꝰ</am><ex>us</ex>

  • ꝯ con  <am>ꝯ</am><ex>con</ex>           

  • Ꝯ Con <am>Ꝯ</am><ex>Con</ex>   

  •   <am></am><ex>ur</ex>

  • quod <am>ꝙ</am><ex>quod</ex> or q<am>ᵈ</am><ex>uod</ex> or <am>qd</am><ex>quod</ex>  

  • Quod  <am>Ꝙ</am><ex>Quod</ex> or Q<am>ᵈ</am><ex>uod</ex> or <am>Qd</am><ex>Quod</ex>

  • <am>Iħu</am><ex>Ihesu</ex> or <am>Iħc</am><ex>Ihesu</ex>  for the common abbreviation for Jesus

  • <am>iħu</am><ex>ihesu</ex> or <am>iħc</am><ex>ihesu</ex> for the common abbreviation for Jesus

  • <am>Ierlm̄</am><ex>Ierusalem</ex> for Jerusalem

  • <am>ierlm̄</am><ex>ierusalem</ex> for Jerusalem

  • <am>pr̄</am><ex>pater</ex>

  • <am>nr̄</am><ex>noster</ex> 

  • xpristo <am>xp̄</am><ex>christ</ex>o

  • <am>bn̄dicyte</am><ex>benedicite</ex> or <am>bn̄dicite</am><ex>benedicite</ex>

  •  ecclesiaste    <am>eccliāste</am><ex>ecclesiaste</ex> 

  • ecclesiaste <am>eccłiaste</am><ex>ecclesiaste</ex> 

  • ꝫ abbreviating final ue/us/es: <am>ꝫ</am><ex>ue</ex> or <am>ꝫ</am><ex>us</ex> or <am>ꝫ</am><ex>es</ex>

  • þᵗ that þ<am>ᵗ</am><ex>at</ex>

  • -orum (Latin): <am>ꝝ</am><ex>orum</ex>

  • omnium: o<am>ıı̄ıı̄</am><ex>mnium</ex>

  • with (wᵗ): w<am>ᵗ</am><ex>ith</ex>

  • David: <am>dd</am><ex>Dauid</ex>

  • <am>corp̄s</am><ex>corpus</ex> 

  • where we have no abbreviation mark: just use <ex></ex> to hold the expansion

  • for running heads with special characters in the Ellesmere manuscript: <fw type="header" place="tm"> ~ for the final flourish character  ❡ for the treble clef type character </fw>

Unreadable, unclear, supplied or damaged text 

  • <gap quantity="4" unit="chars" reason="illegible" />: you cannot read the text at all: (four characters unreadable>; 

  • <gap quantity="4" unit="lines" reason="illegible" /> (four lines unreadable)

  • <unclear reason="damage">damaged text</unclear>:You can read the text, but there is some degree of uncertainty about the transcription. This is not personal uncertainty, but lack of clarity because of physical damage to the manuscript or a low quality image. 

  • <supplied reason="illegible">supplied text</supplied>:Text is supplied 

  • <damage agent="water"><gap quantity="4" unit="chars" /></damage>:The document is damaged, and you cannot read it at this point

  • <damage agent="water"><unclear>damaged text</unclear></damage>:The document is damaged, but you can read with some degree of certainty 

  • <damage agent="water"><supplied>supplied text</supplied></damage>: The document is damaged, and you have provided some text at this point

Other possible damage agents could be fire, rodents or anything else that might affect parchment or paper. 

Deleted, added, altered, underlined, underdotted text

In the first stages of transcription, in cases of apparent deletions/additions/substitution of text we record how the text appears, thus:

  • <hi rend="strike">text struck through</hi>; 

  • <hi rend="ud">text underdotted</hi>; 

  • <hi rend="ul">text underlined</hi>; 

  • <hi rend="er">text otherwise erased, eg rubbed out</hi>

  • <hi rend="strike ud">strike through and underdot</hi>

  • <hi rend="ul">underline</hi>

  • <hi rend="sup">\text added between lines/</hi>

Ornamental capitals, 'marked' text

<hi rend="orncp1">A</hi>ire.   1=number of lines
<hi rend="unexcp1">A</hi>ire.   1=number of lines

<hi rend="orncp5-up">W</hi>  5=number of lines "up" = the capital goes above the text. 

'Emphatic' text, eg a: <hi rend="other">This text is set to be different from the rest.</hi> (see Tc1 22v)

Line breaks 

  • If the line break occurs between words: simple <lb/>. Make sure you have a space after the last word in the preceding line.

  • If the line break occurs within a word: with a hyphe -- <lb rend="hyphen" break="no"/>; without a hyphen <lb break="no"/>


We transcribe capitals when the letterform in the manuscript is emphatic, that is, different from the regular lower case letter. However, we always transcribe a capital at the beginning of the line, whether the letter is upper or lower case. 


  • Use the n attribute to carry the information that it is a rubric: IRE, MRE, FRE for initial, medial or final rubrics respectively, eg <l n="IRE">þe goode wyues tale of bathe</l>

  • Medial rubrics have a line number attached to them, thus: MRE802 is the medial rubric after line 802, thus: <l n="MRE802">¶ here endeþ þe <am>ꝓ</am><ex>pro</ex>loge of þe gode wif of Baþe</l> (where the prologue goes on!)

  • Distinguish the language of rubrics: English, French, Latin and macarronic (for mixed language rubrics). These are tagged as E, F, L and M respectively (e.g. IRE IRF IRL IRM). 

  • If you have rubrics in red you can add the colour to the encoding <l n="FRE" rend="red">Hiere endeth The Millers tale </l></div>


  • To indicate empty space in the source text (for example, left for a word to be filled in later: <space quantity="1" unit="chars"/>

  • The default value of "unit" is "chars", so one could simply write <space quantity="1"/>.  If you want to indicate that an empty space of a number of lines, use <space quantity="1" unit="lines"/>.

  • So, for example, one could use <space quantity="30" unit="lines"/>, for a place in which there are thirty lines that have been left blank.


  • <note type="ed" resp="BB">An editorial note</note>

  • <note type="tr" resp="PR">A transcription note</note>

Editorial notes will appear as footnotes in the preview window, with a hypertext link to the note appearing in the text.

Please do not abuse notes. These are only to be employed where required for editorial purposes.


  • <note place="margin-left">Marginalia</note>: left margin

  • <note place="margin-right">Marginalia</note>: right margin

  • <note place="tm">Marginalia</note>: text written in the top margin of the source text, centre

  • <note place="tl">Marginalia</note>:top margin, left

  • <note place="tr">Marginalia</note>:top margin, right

  • <note place="bm">Marginalia</note>:bottom margin, centre

  • <note place="bl">Marginalia</note>:bottom margin, left

  • <note place="br">Marginalia</note>:bottom margin, right

Running heads, footers, catchwords, signatures 

  • <fw type="sig" place="bm">Signature</fw>: a signature, in the bottom margin, centre

  • <fw type="header" place="tm">Header</fw>: a header, in the top margin, centre

  • <fw type="catch" place="br">Catchword</fw>: a catchword, bottom right

  • <fw type="footer" place="bl">Footer</fw>: a footer, bottom left

  • <fw type="pageNum" place="tr">1</fw>: a page number, top right

Word Division 

Transcribe words as they appear in the manuscript. When two words, which are usually written separately in English, are run together, transcribe them together. 

Scribal corrections, etc

We are especially interested in cases where a scribe introduces significant corrections into the manuscript (addition or deletion; indication of an alternative reading). 

The most common case is when a scribe writes something, realizes it is wrong, and immediately deletes it. Thus, he/she writes "man", realizes the mistake, and deletes it:

<app><rdg type="lit"><hi rend="ud">man</hi></rdg><rdg type="orig">man</rdg><rdg type="mod" /></app>

Note the use of <rdg type="mod" /> to indicate the empty element: that is, after modification, the word is deleted.

For more complex cases, see the separate section on the app tag.

Transcribing prose

The first task in transcribing prose is to divide the text into lines, simply by putting a carriage return in the transcription at the end of each manuscript line. This will make it much easier for you just to read the text! You should then put a <lb> element at the beginning of each manuscript line (see on Line Breaks above).


Transcribe punctuation as it appears in the manuscript. Leave a space before a virgule or a period, but not if the period is part of  a numeral. Numerals should be transcribed without spaces. 

  • / Virgule -- use a regular slash / . NOTE. When the virgule is attached to the preceding or following word we do NOT transcribe it. In those cases, we treat it as decorative and ignore it

  • ·  Mid dot

  • ¶ Paraph mark

  • ⸫ Three dots (a trifinium)

  •   (punctus elevatus: if you have junicode this will display fine)

  • ▽ Wedge mark (a version of a virgule) found mostly in prose in Hg etc.

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