Spacing Between Written Words was Invented by Irish Monks

In a Nutshell

Nowadays, it’s common practice to use a blank space when writing to distinguish one word from another. You’re probably thinking – “Well how else would I be able to read it?” But, hundreds of years ago, you’d typically find many languages writing with words joined together in a long sequence. A select few would utilize interpuncts, but most would adopt the ‘scriptio continua’ method. That was until the Irish monks got involved with Latin…

The Whole Bushel

The Irish monks have been responsible for many significant developments throughout history; they discovered America, taught the English how to read properly and now it’s thought that they honed the Latin language too. That may sound a little bit strange to you, considering it was the Romans that created the language and Ireland was never considered to be a part of the Roman empire.

But, they took control of it when it eventually spread to their shores. That was believed to be back in the 5th century. It was at a time where Christianity was establishing itself as a widespread religion and was starting to travel around the world. So, when Christianity hit Ireland, the Latin language did as well.

However, there was a huge problem. None of the Irish monks could understand a single word of any of the scripts. They were bemused by the fact that all the text was just one, big, continuous line without any dividers. For a while, they were forced to struggle with both the surge of Christianity – a brand-new ideology – and the complex Latin language.

Then, one day, a bright monk decided to get a grip of the scripts and make it easier to understand. He met with a group of others, and together they sat down to determine what could be done with the texts. After long deliberation, they started implementing innovative measures, such as a flowing rhythm, alliteration, and new abbreviations. In the end, they had a completely new text that was much simpler to decipher.

But, they still didn’t have individual words. Rather than looking for influence from further afield, with the likes of interpuncts and dots, they decided to create their own system. It was extremely straightforward – put blank spaces in between each word. That was truly a lightbulb moment, and it’s something that has clearly had a long-lasting impact on global languages.

Once they’d mastered their system, they began not only using it themselves but teaching it to the English as well. That means the Irish didn’t just teach the English how to read, but they taught them how to read and speak fluently at the same time. The language was now a beautiful set of distinct letters and words, and those words rapidly moved through schools of Charlemagne’s empire.

It’s now thought that those Irish monks saved the Latin language when all other European countries where corrupting it. So, when you’re next reading something, you can thank the Irish monks of the 5th century for making your life way easier.

Show Me The Proof

Spaces between words [Link]