Arts & Humanities, Linguistics; orthography; grammaticography; punctuation; antiquity; humanism
This paper researches the as yet unstudied topic of orthographic content in antique, medieval, and Renaissance grammar books in European languages, as part of a wider research of the origin of orthographic standards in European languages. As a central place for teachings about language, grammar books contained orthographic instructions from the very beginning, and such practice continued also in later periods. Understanding the function, content, and orthographic forms in the past provides for a better description of the nature of the orthographic standard in the present. The evolution of grammatographic practice clearly shows the continuity of development of orthographic content from a constituent of grammar studies through the littera unit gradually to an independent unit, then into annexed orthographic sections, and later into separate orthographic manuals. 5 antique, 22 Latin, and 17 vernacular grammars were analyzed, describing 19 European languages. The research methodology is based on distinguishing orthographic content in the narrower sense (grapheme to meaning) from the broader sense (grapheme to phoneme). In this way, the function of orthographic description was established separately from the study of spelling. As for the traditional description of orthographic content in the broader sense in old grammar books, it is shown that orthographic content can also be studied within the grammatographic framework of a specific period, similar to the description of morphology or syntax. We found that 4 out of 5 antique, 11 out of 22 Latin and 5 out of 17 vernacular grammarians describe orthographic content in the narrower sense.