Thursday, 27 June 2019

notae tironianae

Absent any comprehensive and systematic stenographical short-cuts except for what could be improvised and some legal jargon that were purposefully opaque to stave off the non-credentialed, the catalogue of glyphs, growing to some five thousand symbols, created by Marcus Tullius Tiro (*94 – †4BC) was a highly useful innovation.
An enslaved clerk who was later freed to continue working as the Roman orator and statesman Cicero’s, his former master, personal secretary, Tiro was able—through his notes—to facilitate the dictation and capture the thoughts of the philosopher and statesman, and the method was quickly disseminated. Taught in medieval monasteries, the extended character set grew to some thirteen thousand shorthand symbols that made for an abbreviated syllabary, which could be further modified and combined to compress whole sentences and still retain the words verbatim. Falling out of favour with the proliferation of the printing press, a few Tironian notes are still in use today—notably the ⁊ (the glyph for et, and) is used extensively on signage in Scotland and Ireland where the sign is called the agusan and agus respectively.