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January 1975

Abbreviated Writing

Am J Dis Child. 1975;129(1):15-16. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1975.02120380007001

On first visiting Italy one is struck by the liberal display of a certain abbreviated inscription that, on inquiry, turns out to have been in common use in ancient times. The letters SPQR serve as a constant reminder of the antiquity and glory of Rome, but only to those schooled in Latin and ancient history. One also finds that the letters INRI adorn a number of Renaissance paintings, the meaning of which was undoubtedly better known to the medieval than to the modern (non-Italian) citizen. And how many nontheologians understand the meaning, or know that there are two possible meanings, of the letters IHS, which have for centuries appeared on church altars?

Hence, abbreviated phrasing is not new. I do not know how common it was in olden times, but there is no doubt that it is under acceleration now. As far as scientists are concerned, perhaps the real instigators

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