ABBREVIATIONS:(Redirected from INITIALS.)
The oldest term for abbreviation,
Abbreviations really begin with the development of the Hebrew alphabet out of ideographic pictures. Hence, they must date from the earliest times. The modern letters were originally signs or symbols. After the symbols had become letters, representing not only concepts, but sounds, the names were, nevertheless, retained and transferred to the corresponding sounds. The time when that transfer took place is unknown; but it may be assumed that even for some time later ideograms for well-known words were still used. By analogy with those ideograms the use of conventional signs for frequently recurring words probably came into vogue, and this was the beginning of Abbreviations (compare Perles, "Analekten," p. 10). Abbreviations are found in Punic, Assyrian, and Minean inscriptions, and also in an Aramaic inscription of the year 526
Thus, on the Maccabean coins are found the Abbreviations א for "first year":
On the Maccabean coins there is no sign to denote abbreviation. This may be due to lack of space. However, such a practise is met with much later; compare the Bible fragments published by Neubauer ("Jew. Quart. Rev." vii. 363) and
Words are abbreviated in various ways. Distinction must be made chiefly between the abbreviation of a single word and that of more than one. Single words may be abbreviated in the following ways:
V01p040063.jpg: When a single word consists of only two letters it is very rarely abbreviated; for example, V01p040064.jpg. When it consists of more than two letters, one or more of the final letters are dropped: for example, V01p040065.jpgor V01p040066.jpg= V01p040067.jpgor V01p040068.jpgor V01p040069.jpg= V01p040070.jpgor V01p040071.jpg. Words beginning with a preposition or conjunction or verbs in the imperfect can not be abbreviated to one letter: for example, V01p040072.jpg, V01p040073.jpgCompound names are treated sometimes as two words, and so abbreviated: for example, V01p040074.jpg= V01p040075.jpg.
V01p040076.jpg: The middle of a word is omitted, both ends remaining: for example, V01p040077.jpg("Am. Jour. Semit. Lang." xv. 162); V01p040078.jpg(in the same place); V01p040079.jpg("Jew. Quart. Rev." xi. 646); V01p040080.jpg(in the same place). This mode of abbreviation is very rare.
V01p040081.jpg: A middle letter stands for the whole word. Of this kind only one example is known, namely, V01p040082.jpg(compare Perles, op. cit. p. 16).
V01p040083.jpg: The beginning of the word is omitted; for example, V01p040084.jpg("Am. Jour. Semit. Lang." xv. 162), V01p040085.jpgor V01p040086.jpgbefore family names; especially common in the Arabic period, but affected also by some modern writers.
- (5) The name of God is now usually written
V01p040087.jpg; but in antiquity it was written in a great many ways, too many to record here (see Tetragrammaton).When there are two or more words, the following modes of abbreviation prevail:
V01p041001.jpg:(a) The initial letter of every word, whether it be a radical or a formative element or an inseparable particle, is retained—the rest is omitted; for example, V01p041002.jpg V01p041003.jpg. It is to be noticed, however, that, if the first word of the combination begins with an inseparable particle, such particle is not counted; for example, V01p041004.jpg= V01p041005.jpg. An exception to this rule is the article in combination beginning with V01p041006.jpgfor example, V01p041007.jpg V01p041008.jpg, and V01p041009.jpg, but more usually written V01p041010.jpg.(b) Two letters are retained of one or several words; for example, V01p041011.jpg V01p041012.jpg; V01p041013.jpg.(c) When the first or last word of the combination is short, it is sometimes retained in the abbreviation entire; for example, V01p041014.jpg; V01p041015.jpg.(d) When an abbreviation is formed of a larger complex of words the resulting lengthy abbreviation is rarely written in one group (for example, V01p041016.jpg), but is frequently broken up into two or more groups; for example, V01p041017.jpg= V01p041018.jpg= V01p041019.jpgThis splitting up into groups is at times guided by no principle (for example, V01p041020.jpg), but more frequently the tendency is apparent to form such groups as would make sense when read as entire words, or would represent a series of numbers, or would give a certain assonance; for instance, V01p041021.jpggives the words V01p041022.jpggives the words V01p041023.jpg V01p041024.jpggives the words V01p041025.jpg V01p041026.jpgyields an assonance when pronounced V01p041027.jpg(compare Pronunciation, below); V01p041028.jpggives the serial numbers 21, 22, 23.(e) In longer groups, particles and sometimes one or more whole words may be left unrepresented; for example, V01p041029.jpg V01p041030.jpg(Lowe, "A Fragment of the Talmud," fol. 1a, col. 1, 1. 21).(f) A species of Abbreviations consists in the use of the letters with numerical value. Such use goes back to antiquity, and was already known to the authors of the Biblical books (compare Holzinger to Gen. xiv. 14, and Bertholet to Ezek. iv. 5, in Marti's "Kurzer Hand-Kommentar zum Alten Testament"). On this use is also based the hermeneutic rule of Gematria. These letters with numerical value may be written by themselves, as, V01p041031.jpg= 310; V01p041032.jpg= 613; or together, with the Abbreviations of words, as, V01p041033.jpg V01p041034.jpgIt is further to be noticed that in modern times the use of V01p041035.jpgfor 15, 16 is avoided (such groups being part of the divine name) and V01p041036.jpgsubstituted in their stead. In some cases the numeral V01p041037.jpgis written V01p041038.jpgand pronounced V01p041039.jpgwith allusion to the meaning "alive," "living," which the word has in Hebrew.(g) V01p041040.jpg: Sometimes the final letters of several words are combined into a group. This, where the initials make no sense, is done for mnemotechnic purposes; for example, V01p041041.jpg V01p041042.jpg.(h) V01p041043.jpg: When quoting Scriptural passages, on account of religious scruples, only the first word is written out in full, the rest being given in Abbreviations. This mode is especially common among Karaitic authors (compare "Jew. Quart. Rev." vii. 363).(i) V01p041044.jpg: The mystic combination of letters, to which dynamic powers were attributed, dates from the early Gnosis, and was very common in the Middle Ages. This kind of abbreviation does not properly belong to our subject. On the origin of such V01p041045.jpg, compare Grätz, "Gnosticismus im Judenthum," p. 106, and V01p041046.jpg, viii. 90; see also the articles Cabala and Notarikon.
- (1) Owing to the fact that Abbreviations were frequently formed into groups which, when read as a word, gave a meaning and were used as a help to the memory in oral study, all kinds of Abbreviations, even such as have no meaning when taken as words, came in later times to be pronounced with supplied vowels; for example,
V01p041047.jpg(B. B. 46b), V01p041048.jpg(, vii. 96), V01p041049.jpg(ib. 98). This is especially common with names of authors and books; for example, V01p041050.jpg; Equally frequent is such pronunciation of numbers, especially of more than two places; for example, V01p041051.jpg.
- (2) Such pronounced Abbreviations are accepted in modern literature as real words, and even form derivatives. They are used both in prose and in poetry, and the abbreviation signs are not always written —a source of perplexity to the uninitiated. Compare
V01p041052.jpg, "the heresy of Shabbethai Ẓebi," from V01p041053.jpg, the initials of that name (Gottlober, "Toledot haḲabbalah," p. 11); V01p041054.jpg, "a poem the numerical value of whose letters in every line is equivalent to the date of the year in which it was composed" ( V01p041055.jpg, p. 30, note):618 = V01p041056.jpg618 = V01p041057.jpg618 = V01p041058.jpg618 = V01p041059.jpg(Gottlober, "Toledot ha-Ḳabbalah," p. 31). This poem yields the V01p041060.jpg, "the date of the year with the omission of the thousands." Hence, 618 = 5618 A.M. = 1858 B.C. (see also "Luaḥ Aḥiasaf," ii. 31; Dolitzky, "Shire Menahem," p. 105).
Abbreviations may be divided into general and special. To the latter class belong discretionary Abbreviations formed for special cases or by certain authors; while the general Abbreviations, through their connection with the history of culture and of literature, have become monuments of ideas and of sentiments, and have come to possess historic significance (compare Zunz, "Z. G." p. 450). The oldest regular uses of Abbreviations as found in the Talmud are:
- (1) The abbreviation of the name of God (see § (5), above).
- (2) As mnemonic signs, for a help to the memory in oral study. This latter kind of abbreviation was especially called
V01p042001.jpg(see Terminology, above). Instead of these V01p042002.jpgrepresenting words, they sometimes represent numbers (Mishnah, Men. xi. 4; see also R. Judah in Pesaḥ Haggadah and Sifre, V01p042003.jpg, 301). For the mnemonic signs of the Talmud, compare D. Pardo, "La-Menaẓeaḥ le-David," Salonica, 1765 or 1795; Pinner's introduction to his German translation of Berakot, p. 22; J. Brüll, "Doresh le-Zion" (Mnemotechnik of the Talmud), Vienna, 1864; F. Lebrecht in "Hebr.Bibl." vii. 99-102; also Rapoport in "Kerem Ḥemed," vi. 252.Especially numerous is this kind of Abbreviations in the Masoras and in grammatical literature. On the mnemonic signs in the Masoras, compare Frensdorff's glossary in his "Die Masora Magna"; on some of the mnemonic signs in grammar compare D. Rosin in "Jew. Quart. Rev." vi. 475-501. A complete list, both of Masoretical and grammatical mnemonic signs, will be found in the appendix to the writer's "Dictionary of Philological Terminology in Hebrew and Aramaic," now in preparation. Mnemonic signs are also commonly used in calendars.
- (3) In vituperative language Abbreviations are used for the purpose of euphemy (compare Meg. 25b;
V01p042004.jpgor V01p042005.jpg"the lewd woman").In later literature we find the frequent and habitual use of Abbreviations in the following cases:
- (4) In the standing formulas for blessing, wishing, praying, and imprecation, and in standing phrases concluding a composition, which formulas frequently consist of Biblical verses or phrases. This kind of sigla, having developed different characteristics according to various times and countries, since it was employed in epigraphs, documents, on tombstones, etc., has become an important part of Hebrew paleography. On this see Zunz, l.c.; Steinschneider in the "Jahresberichte der Geschichtswissenschaft," i. 43, ii. 59, v. 36; and the same, "Zur Literatur der Hebräischen Paläographie" in "Centralblatt für Bibliothekswissenschaft," 1887, pp. 158 et seq.
- (5) In the quotation of names and titles of authors and especially in the books or treatises and chapters of the Talmud titles. The titles of Hebrew books are, in a sense, proper names, usually consisting of a Biblical phrase of two words, whose initial letters are used in quoting them, even without mention of the author (see Titles).The names of authors consist mainly of their first names with the addition of
V01p042006.jpg"son of," followed by the name of their father. In the Middle Ages it became the custom to add to the name of every author the title V01p042007.jpg, abbreviated to V01p042008.jpg, and from this have arisen Abbreviations of the names of famous and popular authors; as V01p042009.jpgMoses Maimonides, V01p042010.jpgSolomon ben Isaac, etc. In some cases real family names have grown out of such or similar Abbreviations, especially in more modern times when the Jews were required by the various states to adopt them. Thus, the name "Brill" or "Brüll" is V01p042011.jpgBen Rabbi Judah Loeb ha-Levi; "Katz" is V01p042012.jpg; "Sack" is V01p042013.jpg; "Segal" is V01p042014.jpgIn Germany and in France it was customary in the Middle Ages to abbreviate names so as to form a word denoting some personal quality; as, V01p042015.jpg"head" for V01p042016.jpg. Lack of knowledge in such mattters has produced some very ridiculous misunderstandings. A list of such names is given by Steinschneider in the introduction to his "Catalogus Librorum Hebræorum in Bibliotheca Bodleiana" and in his "Hebräische Bibliographie," xvi. 6, xxi. 103. On the titles of Hebrew books compare Schechter, "Studies in Judaism," pp. 270-281.
- (6) In the technical expressions of various disciplines Abbreviations are frequently used according to the needs of the particular subject. They are, however, invariably made on one or other of the principles indicated above.
- The older literature on Abbreviations will be found enumerated in Wolf, Bibl. Hebr. ii. 574-590, iv. 250-267;
- H. J. Köcher, Nova Bibl. Hebr. ii. 136 et seq., Jena, 1782;
- Zunz, Z. G. p. 448;
- Steinschneider, Gab es Eine Hebr. Kurzschrift? p. 8 (this is a reprint from Archiv für Stenographie, 1887, Nos. 466 and 467);
- P. Perreau, 1700 Abbreviature e Sigle Ebraiche, Chaldaiche, Rabbiniche, Talmudiche . . . Autografia Edizione di 60 Esemplari, Parma, 1882, augmented under the title Oceano delle Abbreviature e Sigle Ebraiche, 1883, Autogr. 2a Edizione di 60 Esemplari Notevolmente Accresciuta;
- and an appendix to this, Appendice all' Oceano delle Abbreviature, 1884, Autogr. Ed. di 60 Esemplari (an exhaustive review of the last two works was published by D. Kaufmann in the Göttinger Gelehrte Anzeigen, 1884, pp. 749-755);
- Joseph Ezekiel,
V01p042017.jpgA Handbook of Hebrew Abbreviations with their Explanations in Hebrew and English, etc., Bombay, 1887;
- Philip Lederer, Hebräische und Chaldäische Abbreviaturen . . . ins Deutsche Übersetzt und Erläutert, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1894;
- G. H. Händler,
V01p042018.jpgLexikon der Abbreviaturen, Anhang zum Aramäisch-Neuhebräischen Wörterbuch von Gustaf H. Dalman, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1897(of which the author is now preparing a revised, separate edition);
- A. Bernstein, Sefer Roshe Tebot, London, 1896.
The fragments of two Bible manuscripts of Egyptian origin, which were discovered by Neubauer and deciphered by Friedländer, show a manner of writing in an abbreviated form hitherto unknown; another example was exhibited at the Oriental Congress at Rome, October, 1899, by Dr. C. D. Ginsburg. Only the first word of each verse is written out in full; of the remaining words only one letter (not necessarily the initial letter) is given. This method of abbreviation seems to be what the Talmud designates by the term
- Jew. Quart. Rev. iii. 363, 564-566.