Online Tuition in the Palaeography of Scottish Documents

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'sic braw secretarie hand'

The lowercase Secretary Hand letters which give most trouble to beginners are the letters a, b, c, d, e, h, r, s, t and w.

Secretary Hand letters a, b, c, d, e, h, r, s, t, and w

Note that these will not be the only forms of the letters you will come across, but these forms are amongst the most common.

Reading old documents is like playing golf. The palaeographical equivalent of teeing-up and addressing the ball is to pause before plunging into the document and prepare yourself for what is in store. This short routine will increase your reading speed by reminding you of the most common differences between Secretary Hand letters and modern letters, and reminding you to expect Scots words and phonetic spelling.

Before you start reading any document with Secretary Hand, mentally rehearse the phrase sic braw secretarie hand, which means such nice secretary hand. This primes you to look out for Scots words like sic and braw, phonetic spelling like secretarie and the common Secretary Hand letters.

a contemporary attempt at sic braw secretarie hand

Practice writing this phrase (sic braw secretarie hand) on some scrap paper. Don't worry about being neat - you will come across very sloppy handwriting in original Scottish documents in due course, so you may as well get used to seeing badly formed Secretary Hand letters now! When you have written the phrase half a dozen times continue to the final page of the tutorial.

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