Obelism

Obelism

[ob-uh-lahyz]
Obelism is the practice of annotating manuscripts with marks set in the margins. Modern obelisms are used by editors blue-penciling a manuscript or typescript. Examples are "stet" (which is Latin for "Let it stand," used in this context to mean "disregard the previous mark") and "dele" (for "delete").

The obelos symbol gets its name from the spit, or sharp end of a lance in ancient Greek. An obelos was placed by editors on the margins of manuscripts, especially in Homer, to indicate lines that were doubtfully Homer's. The system was developed by Aristarchus and notably used later by Origen in his Hexapla. Origen marked spurious words between obelos and metobelos.

There were many other such shorthand symbols, to indicate corrections, emendations, deletions, additions, and so on. Most used are the editorial coronis, the paragraphos, the forked paragraphos, the reversed forked paragraphos, the hypodiastole, the downwards ancora, the upwards ancora, and the dotted right-pointing angle, which is also known as the diple periestigmene. Loosely, all these symbols, and the act of annotation by means of them, are obelism.

These nine ancient Greek textual annotation symbols are also included in the supplemental punctuation list of ISO IEC standard 10646 for character sets.

Unicode encodes the following:

  • U+2058 FOUR DOT PUNCTUATION
  • U+2059 FIVE DOT PUNCTUATION = Greek pentonkion
  • U+205A TWO DOT PUNCTUATION
  • U+205B FOUR DOT MARK
  • U+205C DOTTED CROSS
  • U+2E0E EDITORIAL CORONIS
  • U+2E0F PARAGRAPHOS
  • U+2E10 FORKED PARAGRAPHOS
  • U+2E11 REVERSED FORKED PARAGRAPHOS
  • U+2E12 HYPODIASTOLE
  • U+2E13 DOTTED OBELOS
  • U+2E14 DOWNWARDS ANCORA
  • U+2E15 UPWARDS ANCORA
  • U+2E16 DOTTED RIGHT-POINTING ANGLE = diple periestigmene

See also

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