Date: Mon, 11 May 1998 00:12:13 -0500
From: Mike Salovesh
Subject: Re: crryhe, marmottao

Daniel Long wrote:
> I am working on the translation of a 19th English text about the Bonin
> Islands in the Pacific.

<animal species that includes "crryhe" and "marmottao">>

> Has anyone ever heard of "crryhe" or "marmottao"? I can't find them in
> dictionaries. The spelling of the former looks very odd, but I can't
> figure out what kind of typo this could be.

Could "crryhe" simply be a transposition of "cherry"? That, in turn,
suggests that the last six letters of the other "word" are a
transposition of "tomato". My urge to use or account for all the
evidence leaves me dissatisfied with this solution, because of those
leftover letters "mar".

You suggest the possibility of a typo in "crryhe"; what is the frequency
of possible typos in other parts of the text? Do they show any pattern
or consistency?

If I really were taking on a detective role wholeheartedly, I guess the
next thing I'd want to know is something about how the type was set. If
the text was set by Linotype, for example, I'd haul out a keyboard chart
and look for expectable errors. (That is, the equivalent of my typing o
for p on this standard qwerty keyboard, or the somewhat less likely
chance of my typing f for r. Keyboard layout on a standard Linotype is
quite different from the familiar qwerty, and there were non-standard
layouts as well. The best-known Linotype arrangement has etaoinshrdlu
on a single line. That, by the way, is pretty close to a list, in
descending order, of the frequency of use of these letters in normal
English text. I use it as a mnemonic when deciphering simple coded
messages even though it is not totally accurate.)

Handset type would tend toward quite different substitutions, based on
the appearance of the letters themselves rather than their placement on
a keyboard. (Handset type carries the additional complication that the
one who does the typesetting is actually looking at the letters upside
down and backwards as they get placed in the stick.)

-- mike salovesh
anthropology department
northern illinois university PEACE !!!