Rule for archaic "r"?

akma's picture

The forums have occasionally touched on the rules for using a long-s or an eszet, but I don't recall having seen a treatment of the rules -- or lack thereof -- for the archaic "r" in such blackletter texts as the Great Bible.

I came across this glyph when I sought out Cranmer's Preface to the Great Bible, wherein the more familiar "r" glyph and the less familiar one seem to be mingled without a predictable rationale. Have my powers of inference failed me, or did typesetters use whatever came out of the font?

paul d hunt's picture

the half r follows "round" characters such as b, p & o.

James Mosley's picture

This is what John Smith said in his Printer’s Grammar (London, 1755).

If you were being picky you might object that in this kind of textura black letter lower case letters like b and d do not round off behind, but if the type maker says they do why should we make trouble? In more rounded gothic types the ragged r does in fact fit rather neatly behind these letters.

andreas's picture

The "round-r" was used after the letter o (or) but later after letters with a "round" right side too. e.g. o,b,p But it's not a very hard rule. Also used on rr-combination and on abbreviations. German wiki article

You will get a lot of hits for "rundes r". How its called in English?

akma's picture

Thank you all (especially James, for introducing the contemporary testimony) -- that's one I would not have divined without your guidance.

akma's picture

(Double post caused by hyperactive Bluetooth mouse)

But erroneous entry redeemed for usefulness by follow-up question:

I’ve been reading through Smith's Printer's Grammar, and have not found anything therein about another typographical gesture with which I'd been unfamiliar before reading the "Preface" -- namely, the diacritical use of a tilde to abbreviate a vowel-m or vowel-n construction. Was this solely a convenient abbreviation? Does it occur more often at some points than others? Why would such a conventional typographical device eventually die out?

andreas's picture

So now the ragged r has a wiki entry.

guifa's picture

In English it's generally called an R-rotunda, at least, this is how I've always heard it refered to as.

As for the tilde, yes, in Spanish, at least, it was just an abbreviation. Instead of using a hyphen, if they only needed a letter or two to fit everything on a line, then an, en, in, on, un, am, em, im, om, and um could be replaced by their respective vowel + ~. As well, q+tilde could be used for the very common construction que. For example in this sonnet, note the only two lines with tildes are the ones that extend to all the way to the right margin. "en" appears in the first line, but has a tilde on the second (and vos veo loses some of its spacing too). Ditto for "que" appearing in full on the 7th. If you look at the italic script on some of the other pages, you'll notice the tilde looked more like an breve when it was italicised.

Since nn was relatively common, it also got the tilde treatment. Although I'm not as familiar with the Portuguese practice, I presume it to be relatively similar, and as time went on for both languages, the use for the tilde wasn't quite as great. So in modern Spanish publishing it's never used, although in handwriting you'll occasionally see q's and c's using it for que and con respectively (although it's more likely to look the same as what's used for the acute, as this is how the n-tilde is writ by most Spanish-speakers I know). The n-tilde stuck around because it came to be viewed not as much as an abbreviation, but as a separate letter since it had a completely different sound than before. Presumably, for this reason the tilde is still used in Portuguese, where in a word that Spanish and Portuguese once shared like capitanes, the n was no longer pronounced in Portuguese and instead affected the vowel by causing nasality. So, it's now writ capitães and represents a more unique sound. Why it's not as used on the u or i, when those can still be nasalised, I don't know.

In any case, yet another use of the tilde was an all purpose abbreviator:
El exclntmº señor Don Quixote de la Mancha.
Where /------/ is one big long tilde. I recall Cyrillic having a similarly formed, if not same semantically-speaking, character.

«El futuro es una línea tan fina que apenas nos damos cuenta de pintarla nosotros mismos». (La Luz Oscura, por Javier Guerrero)

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