An Electronic Dictionary of
Medieval Latin Abbreviations.


  1. Introduction
  2. Finding and Starting Abbreviationes™
  3. Searching for an Interpretation of an Abbreviation
  4. Display of Results
  5. Navigating through the Results
  6. Conducting Advanced Searches
  7. Auto-browsing at the Expert Level
  8. Printing Results
  9. The Help File
  10. Keyboard Maps


 Developed in Bochum University in Germany, Abbreviationes™ is the first electronic dictionary of medieval Latin abbreviations. It consists of a database which has two files associated with it: a data file (Main Dictionary) and a keys file (Main Dictionary keys), and a database program which provides the facilities for creating and accessing disk-based databases: the Abbreviationes™ application itself. In its current release the database contains nearly 50,000 entries. The application is fast, powerful and easy to use. An important supplement to the extensive database of the program is the Fuzzy Expert System tool. This search tool helps the user to consider other possibilities when making an identification mistake or when not certain about the exact reading of a symbol or a number of them in a manuscript.
 The publishers of the program list the following reference books on abbreviations as part of the database of Abbreviationes™:

Aristoteles Latinus
 De interpretatione vel Periermenias (translatio Boethii)
óParis, Bibliotheque Nationale, Cod. lat. 13956, ff.6v13v (9th century) óParis, Bibliotheque de l'Arsenal, Cod. 912, ff.62r81v (llth century)
óBerlin, Staetsbibliothek, Cod. lat. qu. 475, ff.36r-45r (14th century)
óNapoli, Biblioteca Nazionale, Cod. Vm.E.6, ff.l3ra16vb (14th century)
De interpretatione vel Periermenias (translatio Guillelmi de Moerbeka)
óCitta del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica, Cod. Vat. lat. 2067, ff. 71ra-
111rb (Ammonius in Periermenias cum textu Aristotelis) (13th century)
Albertus Magnus, Speculum astronomiae
óMunchen, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Cod. lat. 18175, ff.l25ra133va
(15th century)
 Located on one of the Macintosh machines at LETRS, the program can be accessed and used at any time during the operation hours for the facility.

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Finding and Starting Abbreviationes™ :

From the Apple Menu, go to the folder Electronic Texts. Then select Abbreviationes.  When the program starts, you will be prompted to open a dictionary.


At this point, go to File and select Open, and from the sub-menu, select Query. (Alternatively, you can use the Macintosh combination Command-O).

In the upcoming dialogue box, you will see the title Main Dictionary highlighted (if not, make sure that it is highlighted). Click Open and you are ready to start your search.

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Searching for an Interpretation of an Abbreviation:

After starting the program, the default setting will be entering abbreviations in the input box and searching for their interpretations.

 The option exact match will also be selected. This option can be changed to fuzzy match. Furthermore, instead of starting with an abbreviation, reverse lookup is available (i.e.: entering a word that is commonly abbreviated in manuscripts and finding the symbol(s) associated with it). The two fields for selecting the type of entry (word or abbreviation) and the scope of the search (exact or fuzzy matches) are on the right-side half of the window open in front of you now.
 It is recommended that you set your search parameters before entering words or abbreviations. Even after viewing results from a search, it may be a good idea to clear the entry field completely before changing the search parameters. This practice can help reduce instances of the program crashing during operation.
 After setting the parameters for your search, type in your search string and hit Return on the keyboard.
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Display of results:

If/when matches for your search are found, you will see in the left-side half of the window a small page that will contain the following items (from top to bottom):

1. the abbreviation as it may be written in your manuscript,
2. the abridged form of the abbreviation in brackets (your input),
3. the transcription,
4. the time when this abbreviation was used and (optional) a sample
manuscript where you can find this abbreviation.

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Navigating through the results:

At the bottom of the right side of the results window (see above), you will be able to see a line of four buttons. The two in the center are meant to take you to the entries immediately following or preceding one that resulted from your search. The other two (on the outside) take you to the very beginning or the very end of the dictionary.

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 Conducting advanced searches:

 Abbreviationes™ allows you to enter characters in a few more fonts in addition to the default (normal) font. Please ask a LETRS consultant to help you access the keyboard maps (from the manual) for additional information on these fonts.
 For an advanced and more specific search, you will need to go to the expert level function. Switching between the expert and novice levels can easily be done from the sub-menu under Tools. Choose Go to expert. Once in that level, you will be able to see the function Find under Edit. The shape of the window will change.

On the left, you will see four entry fields corresponding to the four fields for the display of results (see above). On the right you will see four buttons. The top button (usually with the word 'normal' selected) is for choosing the font you deem suitable. After selecting the font, enter your search characters as they appear on the manuscript (please refer to keyboard maps) and click on the key Find at the bottom of the right side of the window.
 If you wish your search to be more specific, you can click on the button Options (only after typing in one search string at least).

The new window appearing will enable you to specify whether your search string should(n't) be included in the search involving multiple strings or whether  Abbreviationes™  should try to find your search string at the beginning of an entry or at the end or anywhere in the entry.

Once you finalize the parameters for your search, hit OK, and then Find on the window to which you will be taken back. You should be able to see the following window indicating that the search is in progress:

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Auto-browsing at the expert level:

Once a result is displayed in the right-side half of the expert search window, you will see an additional set of four buttons below the four buttons described above under "Navigating through the results". The new four buttons function for (from left to right) Fast Backward, Backward, Forward, and Fast Forward. A click on either of them is enough to activate the auto-browsing function. To stop this function, click anywhere inside the window or hold down the Command key and type . (period).

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Printing results:
When you see the result you need in the front window, you can print out the information associated with it by going to File and selecting Print Window. Only one window at a time can be printed out.

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The help file:

Under the Help item on the Main Menu, you'll find a brief description of the program and its functions. Moreover there is a handy list of short-cut key strokes and combinations.

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Last Updated: 3/17/98
Comments: Library Electronic Text Resource Service /
Indiana University