Abbreviations at beginning of Latin words

You start to decipher the old Latin document or register entry containing your ancestor’s name. You have even found a dictionary or glossary to look up the words. Then you meet some weird lines or symbols and some letters are missing to make up a known word.

See part 1. and 2. of the series “Why is it so hard to read old handwriting?” on our FB-page with the hashtag #sohardtoreadoldhandwriting.

You may see slightly different Latin abbreviations in different regions and times.

These are taken from documents genealogists researching in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy’s wider region can meet.

We are addressing now only those abbreviations shortening the word on one spot.

If in a word there are letters eliminated on more than one spot, we call it a contraction. We will discuss those in an other blog post.

We cathegorize abbreviations in this blog post not really scientifically, but according to the needs of genealogist:

Abbreviations you will meet tipically

1. at the beginning of a word

2. at the end of a word

3. one-letter-abbreviations of words

1. Abbreviations at the beginning of words

The most common things abbreviated at the beginning are these prefixes: pro-, per-, prae-, con/com-

Hover over the image to see the transcription!

Observe the different lines and curves in case of  pro/per/prae!

The sign abbreviating con/com- resembles a 9.

And as a bonus here is another abbreviation possibility for con/com-. The line above means that one nasal (i.e. n or m) is omitted here.

We would love to hear your success stories in reading Latin! Share them with us on FB in our open group Searching for ancestors in Latin church registers! You can also ask there if you see abbreviations at the beginning of words not listed here.

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We wish you the best of luck in your research,

Judit and István

Historia Translation

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P.S. Have you found a Hungarian, Latin or German text and don’t know whether it is worth translating? We can make you an abstract from it! You can learn who wrote it and to whom, when and where it was written, as well as what it’s about, so that you can decide whether or not you want to have it translated. For details, see our webpage:

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