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Monday, July 25, 2011

Syriac double dot: identified as world's earliest question mark


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A Cambridge University manuscript specialist has identified what may be the world's earliest example of a question mark.
Dr. Chip Coakley revealed the symbol in question is two dots, one above the other, similar in appearance to a colon, rather than the familiar squiggle of the modern question mark.
The double dot symbol appears in Syriac manuscripts of the Bible dating back to the fifth century. Syriac is a language of the Middle East with a large Christian literature and its golden age was in the centuries before the rise of Islam.
The manuscripts have their special points of interest and one of them is the way the graceful and flowing Syriac script is peppered with dots.
Some of these dots are well understood, but some are not, so Coakley, who teaches Syriac to students in the Divinity and Middle Eastern Studies faculties, tried to make sense of it.


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