Session 3: Braille Punctuation and Special Symbols (Composition Signs)
|capital sign, single|
|capital sign, double|
|italic sign, single|
|italic sign, double|
Special symbols, called composition signs in the literature, are symbols that are not found in print. These symbols have the purpose of helping the braillist to "compose" or change the appearance of other braille cells. The most common of the composition signs are the capitalization signs and the letter signs.
The capital sign, when it preceeds a letter, changes that letter from lower- to upper case. For example, in the name "Sam":
The capital sign can also appear in the middle of a word, such as might be found in the name "McClean":
The double capital sign is used when the entire word is capitalized. The effect of a double capital sign is not cancelled by the presence of a hyphen or other punctuation mark, such as in the example "McNAB-SAM":
The capital or double capital signs do, however, need to be repeated after an oblique stroke ("/"), as is found in the terms USAF/USMC, or in the expression "RRG/ec".
Italics signs are used in the same manner as capital signs -- they change normal print to italics. The single italics sign changes the word immediately following the italic sign, while the double italic sign italicizes the entire phrase following the signs. For example, the word "Life":
The single italic sign is used in front of each word if there are three (3) or less consecutive words, such as in the phrase "italics are fun". However, if there are more than three consecutive italicized words, such as in the phrase "The House of Representatives", the double italic sign is used in front of the first word of the phrase and the single italic sign is used in front of the last word of that phrase.
In cases where you have a list of publications, such as book titles, in a series, the double italic sign is used in front of each new title, and the single italic sign is used in front of the last word of the last title in the series. If incidental words, such as "the" appear in the series but are not italicized in print, they are transcribed in braille as if they were italicized.
There will be cases where italicized items that appear consecutively are italicized for different reasons. They should be italicized separately. An example is: The main component of braille is the contraction. The is an example of a contracted word.
Letter signs are used to ensure that the symbol following the letter sign is interpreted as a letter, and not as a number or some other contraction. For example, in the notation "4a", you would need to use the letter sign to negate the effect of the number sign:
Without the number sign, the cells above would be interpreted as "41".
The letter sign is also used to help avoid confusion over if a single letter is supposed to be a letter or a contraction. We'll revisit the letter sign when we talk about those contractions.
The termination sign is used to negate the effect of a composition sign, typically the capital sign or the italics sign. For example, in the word "bACk", you would use the termination sign:
In this case, the termination sign negates the effect of the double capital sign in the middle of the word (don't ask me why they would be capitalized in the first place!).