There are several different kinds of abbreviated (or apparently abbreviated) names which appear in our collection:
1. shortened versions of names which appear in their full form elsewhere in the text. In these cases the shortening is for convenience and to save space; it often takes the form of a single initial followed by a period or dash (Mr. L., Mr. L--).
2. shortened or encrypted names which never appear in full form, where the goal is to appear to conceal (often while transparently revealing) the identity of the referent (General W--sh--t-n); these often appear in political satire.
3. shortened versions of names which never appear in full form, where the goal is not to refer to any specific person but rather to sketch a generalized person, in the spirit of “Mrs. So and So”. These may take the form of a dash (Mrs. ---) or there may be an initial present (Mrs. L--), but it is clear from the context that the person is imaginary and does not even have a solid fictional existence within the text.
The first two cases should be encoded with <persName>, since they may in the future carry a key= attribute identifying the person mentioned. The last case should not be encoded with <persName>, since they do not refer to any specific person (not even a fictional one) but merely make a general reference to personhood.