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ARBITRARY SIGNS. Although the subject of arbitrary characters has been once disposed of,—and though their introduction as a component or necessary part of the system of short writing, is strongly reprobated, still it is thought right to present the young reader with some of the arbitrary signs most frequently employed in the sciences and arts, independent of short hand. Indeed, many of these have, by their universal conventional sanction and use, become parts of our written, or printed language, and as such, should be known to every young man, who aspires to a respectable education.
The written language of the Chinese is a language of figures, every object or notion being expressed by a paro, ticular sign.
We, also, for the sake of brevity and precision, use, in several sciences, certain signs: for instance,
Astronomical Signs. O Sun ; ) Moon; Earth ; Mercury ; f Venus; s Mars; À Vesta ; $ Juno; & Pallas ; Ceres; 4 Jupiter; 5 Saturn; Hi Herschel.
The twelve Signs of the Zodiac. p Aries; 8 Taurus ; I Gemini ; oo Cancer; 1 Leo; m Virgo; ~ Libra ; m Scorpio; Sagittarius; 19 Capricornus ; Aquarius; # Pisces.
Mathematical and Arithmetical Signs, &c.: Roman cyphers; I, 1; II, %; III, 3; IV, 4; V,5; VI, 6; VII, 7; VIII, 8 ; IX, 9; X, 10; XX, 20; L, 50; C, 100; CC, 200; D, 500; M, 1000, &c.
In Algebra, the first letters of the alphabet, a, b, c, commonly denote given magnitudes, while the last letters x, y, :, &c. stand for unknown magnitudes, which are to be found. Furthermore, + (plus) more,-(minus) less, sig
nifying addition and subtraction ; x denotes multiplication; • division,
equality, v root (radix.) Also: o degree ; 'minute; "second;''' third ; &c.— Chemical Signs : Fair; earth A ; V water; A fire; ) silver ; O gold; f copper; J. iron ; h lead; 4 tin ; $ quicksilver; nitre ;
salt; $ sulphur tartar. Geometrical and Trigonometrical Signs : L angle; A triangle ; square; O circle; in similarity ; | or # parallel; ~ equality and similarity, or coincidence; A > B, A greater than B.-Formerly there were more signs and abbreviations used in scientific works than at present. In Prussia, the use of signs in medical prescriptions has been abolished, on account of the danger of their being confounded.
The following are a few of the many signs used in music
The most important signs used by the Proof-reader and Printer for correcting errors of the Press.- When a wrong word or letter occurs, a mark is made through it, and the
proper word or letter written in the margin against the line in which the error occurs. If a word or letter is omitted, a caret (4) is placed under the place where it should have stood, and the omission is written in the margin. If a superfluous letter occurs, it is crossed out, and the character s signifying dele, written in the margin. Where words are improperly joined, a caret is written under the place where the separation should be made, and the character # written in the margin. When syllables are impro
perly separated, they are joined by a horizontal parenthesis ; as duty. This parenthesis is to be made in the margin, as well as at the break.
When words are transposed, they are to be connected by a curved line, as,
is when set up for 'is not,' and the letters tr. are to be written in the margin. When a letter is inverted, the mistake is pointed out by such a a character as in the margin. When marks of punctuation are omitted, a caret A is put where the mark should have been inserted, and the comma or period, &c. is placed in the margin, thus, ,l If a mark of quotation has been omitted, the caret is made as before, and a character of this sort V or V placed in the margin. Words which are to be printed in italics are marked beneath with a single line; as, office: if in small capitals, with two lines; as GREECE: if in large capitals, with three, as JAMES. Where these marks are used in correction, the abbreviations Ital., small caps, and caps, should be written in the margin. Where a word printed in Italics should be altered to Roman letters, a line is to be drawn under it, and the abbreviation Rom. is to be written in the margin. Where a corrector, after altering a word, changes his mind, and prefers to let it stand, dots are placed under it, and the word stet is written in the margin. When a hyphen is omitted, a caret is made under the place where it should be, and such a character as this (-), placed in the margin. The omission of a dash is pointed out in the same way, only the enclosed line in the margin is made longer. (-) When a break is made, so as to produce a division into paragraphs, where this was not intended, the end of the one and the beginning of the other paragraph are connected by a curved line N, and the words no break are to be written in the margin. Where a new paragraph is to be made, a caret is inserted, and this mark I placed in the margin.
I might pursue the subject much further, but not in conformity with the design of this publication, which is, chiefly, to communicate a practical system of quick writing ; and, as necessarily connected with this object, to warn my readers against the hasty adoption of plausible theories, from which they can in fact derive no benefit.
I have given, in a previous page, instead of many hundred crooked marks once familiar to me, only four characters merely as a specimen. To these, my readers are at liberty to add such others as they may consider applicable to their particular profession or business. But even with this limited object in view, it is extremely desirable that only such signs be appropriated, as will be most likely to suggest the words or ideas which they are to represent in writingespecially, if it can be effected without too great a sacrifice: and the signs should be so allied to the words or ideas of which they are the signs, as naturally to present themselves to the mind on every recurrence of those words or ideas.
It is quite evident that no very considerable number will be found to pass this ordeal, and to be at the same time sufficiently simple and concise, to warrant their practical use, as a saving of labour, time, or space : and these, confined to the individual convenience of their particular inventors, will be quite harmless ; unless at an unlucky moment, when the memory fails to point out the original association in the mind, the signs too, should fail to call up the ideas which the writer may have given them in charge.
It will, however, afford some amusement and gratification, to those who fancy themselves the happy inventors, or discoverers of signs so well fitted for the purposes to which they apply them. I have rayself enjoyed many pleasant hours in this exercise ; and have not only learned hundreds of signs which others had invented, but have contrived other hundreds of my own. As an offset, however, for the gratification thus enjoyed, I have since wasted many tedious
days, in trying to unlearn those signs, which my experience has proved to be worse than useless.
It is not to be supposed that all can see and think alike upon any subject, and much less upon the practical minutiæ of short-hand ; and having given my own views, as the result of an extensive experience, I shall leave the subject, after a few more hints respecting the four signs above mentioned--as I have the vanity to believe, that none can be more happily conceived.
The circle o is used to represent the world. By placing a dot in it we may read in the world ; if at the left, :O before the world ; or thus Ò over the world ; thus ( under the world ; thus O. after the world. And, as Mr. Gurney, a distinguished English stenographer has suggested, by drawing a line across the circle, thus, we may read from one end of the world to the other.
The † will be readily acknowledged by all, as the most appropriate sign for the words Jesus Christ, which, in scripture or pulpit style, are of frequent occurrence. With almost equal propriety may the term Christianity be represented by a cross X ; but for distinction sake, two oblique lines. have been appropriated instead of the horizontal and perpendicular. Again, following up the analogy, the cross, with a very little addition, is made to represent the Christian religion, viz. one of the oblique lines is double. X This is quite natural, as the term to be expressed, is compounded of two terms, represented by two single crosses.
Mr. Gurney, a celebrated reporter in the British parliament, in his own work upon short-hand, when speaking of arbitrary characters, says
“ A principal advantage, in this system of short-hand, consists in the small number of arbitrary and contracted characters; and in their conspicuity, by which they will be soon understood, fixed in memory, and read again at first sight," He afterwards introduces the capital letters of the com