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Liz Gabay wrote:
>  Because the words are not
> always separated in the usual places, and because the scribes used lots of 
> abbreviations you have to know quite a bit of Irish to transcribe these 
> manuscripts. 

That is a good point. What that means is that when you read a printed 
transcription of a text you are, to some small degree or other, reading 
something already influenced by transcriber's own ideas about how it 
should be translated. In choosing word division, and deciding whether a 
given letter is a 't' or a 'd' and so on, will be guided to some extent 
by what they think gives 'sense' to the manuscript.

That is one of the reasons why transcriptions often indicate to a very 
minute degree whether a letter is written in the normal alphabet 
(printed by the transcriber in Roman font) or in some contracted form 
(printed in italics). So for example, in the MS 'i crich' here, the 'r' 
would often be printed in italics, from which the experienced reader 
will be able to deduce that the 'i' appears as a superscript letter. To 
my mind this is often overdone, because many of the contracted forms are 
just as unambiguous as the 'normal' ones. But it is handy when a 
n-stroke is printed with an italic 'n', because it might in fact turn 
out to be a suspension stroke instead. (Expanded suspensions should 
always be printed in italics since they are inherently ambiguous. 
Unfortunately, that isn't really convenient in posts to the List. One 
method I have used in the past is using capitals instead, but that 
seriously reduces reader comprehension when there are lots of suspension 
strokes.)

Neil