Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A little place in  history...

I have received e-mails and comments in ALL CAPS.  After long enough, we who read mostly electronically can hear shouting in our head when reading such documents.

Therefore, I pause today to honor the guy who thought up small letters.

Lower case (also lower-case or lowercase), minuscule, or small letters are the smaller form of letters, as opposed to upper case or capital letters, as used in European alphabets (Greek, Latin, Cyrillic, and Armenian). For example, the letter "a" is lower case while the letter "A" is upper case.
Originally alphabets were written entirely in capital letters, spaced between well-defined upper and lower bounds. When written quickly with a pen, these tended to turn into rounder and much simpler forms, like uncials. It is from these that the first minuscule hands developed, the half-uncials and cursive minuscule, which no longer stay bound between a pair of lines [1].
These in turn formed the foundations for the Carolingian minuscule script, developed by Alcuin for use in the court of Charlemagne, which quickly spread across Europe. Here for the first time it became common to mix both upper and lower case letters in a single text.
The term "lower case" comes from manual typesetting. Since minuscules were more frequent in text than majuscules, typesetters placed them in the lower and nearer type case, while the case with the majuscules (the "upper case") was above and behind, a longer reach. [More]
I love the explanation of how the term "lower case" originated.  Another dazzling conversational opener.

1 comment:

Jay said...

The fact you state this is a "wonderful conversation-starter" is truly an indication you, sir, are an enginerd.