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Gothic Textualis: Transcription

Section 1: Working with Gothic Script

This transcription lesson gives you three transcription exercises, for plenty of practice with the challenges of Textualis.

As you learned in the paleography lesson on Textualis, the key characteristics of the script include lateral compression and a very regular rhythm of parallel minims whose feet are all finished the same way. These are the features that can make the script tricky to transcribe.

In earlier medieval scripts, you encountered forms of individual letters that were easy to mistake for other letters — an a that looks like a u or like cc, for example, or an s that looks like an f or an r. In Textualis, the bigger problem is that the letters are so close to each other, and so many of them are made up of minims. It is often necessary to count minims to figure out how to disentangle i m n and u from one another — and as you know, those letters are used a lot, and used in combination a lot, in Latin.

The first transcription exercise in this lesson is actually one of the Protogothic manuscripts you saw in this unit's paleography lesson. It will give you a chance to practice dealing with lateral compression and minim-confusion in a script that consists mainly of familiar Caroline letterforms.

The second manuscript you'll transcribe is a very formal Textualis from the 14th century, which will give you practice with extremely regular minims with lozenge-shaped feet, as well as other Gothic features like biting, the 2-shaped r, and the 7-shaped Tironian et in its later Gothic form.

The third manuscript contains all of those forms, but in a script with a markedly less careful ductus and letters that almost all touch each other. If you've completed the first two exercises, your eye should be ready to tackle this one.