Printing History Terminology 101

This week, I’ve been clearing out some of my laptop’s old files. My desktop folders are filled with old coursework that I’d forgotten about, as well as old photos of me with some very questionable hairstyles.

One of the documents I stumbled across was a glossary of printing history terms that I had made as a study aid for my SMC228 Bibliography & Print Culture course at the University of Toronto. You know, that course that got me interested in book history.

Looking through the glossary, I realized that I continue to use a lot of these terms in my current work. I take a lot of them for granted, but most of them were completely foreign to me when I first learned them. For that reason, I’m copying and pasting my homemade dictionary here, so others can learn the words that I have come to love so much.

Note: Very few edits have been made here, my friends. Because of this, some of these definitions are not nearly as comprehensive as I would like them to be (e.g. ‘codex’ – what was I thinking?!). Regardless, I hope you find some this glossary at least somewhat useful, even if just as a starting point.

Second note: Some of these definitions are lifted entirely, or heavily, from William Proctor Williams and Craig S. Abbott’s An Introduction to Bibliographical and Textual Studies (fourth edition). This was our course textbook. It’s a darn good book, too, and should be on every beginner and seasoned bibliographer’s bookshelf.

So, let’s get to it. 19-year-old Leah’s dictionary of printing history:

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Sunday Book-Thought 49

So far in this chapter we have emphasized two main points:

  1. Meaning arises in listening to the commitment expressed in speech acts.
  2. The articulation of content – how we talk about the world – emerges in recurrent patterns of breakdown and the potential for discourse about grounding.

From these points, we are led to a more radical recognition about language and existence: Nothing exists except through language.
We must be careful in our understanding. We are not advocating a linguistic solipsism that denies our embedding in a world outside of our speaking. What is crucial is the nature of ‘existing.’ In saying that some ‘thing’ exists (or that it has some property), we have brought it into a domain of articulated objects and qualities that exists in language and through the structure of language, constrained by our potential for action in the world.
Terry Winograd and Fernando FloresUnderstanding Computers and Cognition: A New Foundation for Design (Boston: Addison-Wesley, 2000 [first published Norwood, NJ: Ablex Corporation, 1986), pp. 68-69