The Ormulum ProjectCoding conventions

Most of the passages from the Ormulum presented here can be read without any special fonts installed; the coding conventions needed to cope with Orm’s special characters without special fonts are described below. For the best result, however, it is recommended that you download the ‘OrmDemo’ and ‘Orrm’ font families. The extract from the coming diplomatic edition will certainly be unintelligible without the ‘Orrm’ fonts.
1. Yogh  
The yogh, which in Orm’s hand is written like a lower-case <t> with an additional curved stroke below the baseline, will be represented by the number 3 (lower-case yogh) and the number 5 (upper-case yogh). 


More about the yogh...
2. The paragraphus 
The paragraphus in Orm’s hand has the shape of an upper-case gamma with at least one oblique stroke. The size and the number of strokes may vary considerably (with more strokes typically marking more major divisions within the text). These distinctions will only be represented in the diplomatic edition; elsewhere the character <> will be used to represent the paragraphus


More about the paragraphus...
3. The tironian sign for et. 
The tironian sign for et, used as an abbreviation of annd, will be represented by the ampersand, <&>


4. Punctuation marks 
Four punctuation marks occur in the extracts shown here: the punctus, the punctus elevatus, the positura and the dash. 

The punctus looks like a full stop and is represented by one. 

The punctus elevatus looks rather like a semicolon rotated both vertically and horizontally; it will be represented by a semicolon. 

More about punctuation...

The positura looks like a semicolon followed by a raised punctus; it is here represented by an exclamation mark. 

The dash, a short and rather thick horizontal stroke used to mark a pause or the beginning of a parenthetical insertion, is here represented by an en-dash <>

More about punctuation...

5. Accent marks 
Vowels can be marked by one, two or three acute accents, normally to indicate vowel length. The word ut ‘out’ is almost always written with two accent marks. In these extracts, a single accent mark is represented by an acute accent (e.g. rédenn), whereas double accent marks are represented by diaeresis (e.g. wrät, üt). 

6. The breve 
Occasionally, Orm uses a breve (a curved stroke) above a vowel to indicate that the vowel is short. This is usually (but not consistently) done to disambiguate pairs of homographs, e.g. làte ‘late’ (short vowel) and láte ‘manner’ (long vowel). The breve will be represented here by a grave accent (as in làte). 

7. Stacked characters. 
Orm often writes two identical characters, not consecutively, but stacked one on top of the other. In the case of thorn, the two characters are typically written with just one stem. Stacked characters will be represented only in the diplomatic edition, with one exception. 

In one case only do stacked and nonstacked character groups represent different sounds: the nonstacked group <3h> occurs only in the word 3ho ‘she’, with the pronunciation /hjo:/. Everywhere else the stacked group <3h> is used to represent a voiced velar fricative, as in foll3henn ‘follow’. 


8. Abbreviations. 
All abbreviations in Orm’s text have been tacitly expanded except in the diplomatic edition, where all the abbreviation and suspension marks have been retained. 

9. Erased characters. 
In the illustrations of Orm’s text revision, italics have been used to indicate erased characters (here, <o> in the digraph <eo>). These <o>’s were erased before Stage 3 was reached, but it is impossible to time the erasure in relation to Stages 1 and 2.

In the diplomatic edition, color coding is used to indicate erasure and other changes to the text. See further the introduction to the demo version of the diplomatic edition

NB! For copyright reasons the illustrated characters could not simply be scanned from the microfilm of the MS. The illustrations above were scanned from an original created using a modern calligraphy pen with a 2 mm nib and greyish blue ink (where Orm’s ink is normally dark reddish brown (verging on black)).