9 Replies Latest reply on Dec 11, 2018 4:52 PM by Victoria Van Hyning

    abbreviations/shorthand in letters

    suzanne piecuch Wayfarer

      Do I transcribe abbreviated words as they appear, or do I write them out?

       

      For example, Penn'a for Pennsylvania, or Secy of War for Secretary, or closing salutations like Rspy Yours for Respectfully Yours...

       

      Thank you!

        • Re: abbreviations/shorthand in letters
          Victoria Van Hyning Adventurer

          Great question Suzanne,

           

          We haven't yet offered clear guidance on this and I confess I'm always in two minds about it. I think that from a search perspective, it's best to transcribe the whole word instead of the abbreviation, but I can also see that people who are interested in linguistics might be disappointed to find that original abbreviations were not preserved. That said, I lean more towards expanding to the whole word.

           

          What do you think?

           

          Victoria, Community Manager

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            • Re: abbreviations/shorthand in letters
              suzanne piecuch Wayfarer

              Thank you for your reply, Victoria....

               

              I like the idea of deferring to both minds, but agreeing on how best to do it.

               

              For example, how about if we transcribe it exactly, "Respy Yours" and also have either a bracketed, asterisked, parenthetical or otherwise delineated "[Respectfully Yours]"? I think I might have done that one of my transcripts.

               

              Penna is an odd one, in that the "a" is usually a superscript, but writing it out normally works fine, I think.

               

              I like the linguistics aspect and think we should honor it, especially as abbreviations are a historical peek in themselves to writing conventions. But I also respect the fact that people who have not seen the shorthand before might be puzzled; not to mention the search function.

               

              As I see more of these letters, I am wanting to go back and correct the few that I have pending for review. As I have time I might get back to you to release those.

               

              I very much look forward to being involved in this project; it brings me lightness of heart.

               

              Suzanne.

                • Re: abbreviations/shorthand in letters
                  Victoria Van Hyning Adventurer

                  Hi Suzanne,

                   

                  So glad the project brings 'lightness of heart'! Quite the compliment!

                   

                  I think your proposed idea to have it both ways--the abbreviation and the expansion in brackets makes a lot of sense. That said, I don't want to add a new burden to the review process or encourage you to go back and make changes. Better onwards and upwards.

                   

                  I'll try to take some time today to raise this particular point with colleagues at the Library and see if we can agree on a convention and then add it to the transcription instructions.

                   

                  More soon,

                  Victoria

                    • Re: abbreviations/shorthand in letters
                      Beth Graham Wayfarer

                      I think we should preserve the abbreviations without extra stuff in brackets clogging up the transcription. If the abbreviation refers to an important word/theme (Respy wouldn't be, but Secy of War might well be), we can use the tags to add in the full word.

                       

                      Beth -- who will of course  bow to what the transcription rule evolves into!

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                        • Re: abbreviations/shorthand in letters
                          Victoria Van Hyning Adventurer

                          Thanks Beth. Yes, Lauren Algee and I were discussing this earlier and thinking through the complexities once again. In brief, there's no single method for transcribing that meets the need of every user or academic discipline, and there are arguments on every side for how/why/whether to transcribe something a particular way. For now, use your best judgement but don't impose it too heavily during the review process. We'll try to come up with a clearer strategy in the new year. Thanks for taking part and for your patience as we continue to think through this challenging area of paleography and scholarly editing!

                           

                          -Victoria

                  • Re: abbreviations/shorthand in letters
                    Jennifer Parker Wayfarer

                    Because of the linguistic aspect, I try to preserve both abbreviations and the original spellings.  Are we supposed to be "translating" the documents into modern English instead?