Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Greek Tachygraphy (shorthand)

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  PAPYRUS, GREEK TACHYGRAPHY. Three fragments written on both sides, totalling 35 lines, [probably Egypt, 3rd to 4th century], significant examples of ancient Greek tachygraphy or shorthand, approx. 150 x 65mm, 150 x 35mm, 90 x 60mm, with six further very small fragments, two with writing, fragile, unexamined out of glass frame. Provenance: Ajasse sale, Lyon, 12 May 2005 -- the collection of Albin Schram.

Christie's  Lot 1 /Sale 7590,  Price Realised (pounds) 1,250 ($2,444)

Evidence of shorthand systems for writing Greek has survived from the 4th century BC but Greek tachygraphy is less well documented than the Tyronian system for Latin developed in the 1st century BC on the Greek model. Papyri discovered in Egypt, most famously from Oxyrhynchus and Antinoopolis, have proved an extremely valuable source of information since they include manuals of shorthand as well as tachygraphic texts (see H.J.M. Milne, Greek Shorthand Manuals, 1934). Yet their number is comparatively small and they have often survived in a more fragmentary state than the present items. As more is known about Greek shorthand, debate is growing on its possible role and influence in the transmission of texts, particularly of those now known as the New Testament.
(Anon, - Christie's Selling page)


Classical antiquity

The earliest known indication of shorthand systems is from Ancient Greece, namely the Parthenon in which a stone from mid-4th century BC was found. The marble slab shows a writing system primarily based on vowels, using certain modifications to indicate consonants. Hellenistic tachygraphy is reported from the 2nd century BC onwards, though there are indications that it might be older. The oldest datable reference is a contract from Middle Egypt, stating that Oxyrhynchos gives the "semeiographer" Apollonios for two years to be taught shorthand writing. Hellenistic tachygraphy consisted of word stem signs and word ending signs. Over time, many syllabic signs were developed.
- Wikipedia article Tachygraphy

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