Date: Mon, 11 May 1998 01:23:44 -0500
From: Mike Salovesh
Subject: Re: crryhe, marmottao revisited

Hypothesis: some of the letters in "marmottao" are a transposition of

Problem: So what to do with the extra letters, "mar"?

Maybe I should have reprinted Danny Long's list, from that 19th century
English text about the Bonin Islands. The placement of the mystery word
"marmottao" may be significant. Here's the list:

> Discussing the plants and animals of the island, the text reads "there
> are on the Islands, wild plum, crryhe, orange, laurel, juniper and box
> wood tree, sandal wood, marmottao, wild cactus, curry plant, wild sage
> and celery."

"crryhe" appears in the context of fruit trees, which tends to confirm
the reading "cherry".

Some of the neighbors of "marmottao" fall in the class of seasonings.
(I don't know from this excerpt just which "wild cactus" is meant here,
but some of the cacti I know from Southwestern U.S. and Mexico are used
to add flavor in cooking.) Could the "mar" segment be a typographically
elided "marjoram"?

For my suggested reading of "marjoram, tomato" to be a correct
reconstruction of the original before mangling by some typesetting
process requires two different kinds of errors to have taken place at
the same point: elision of five letters and the scrambling of perhaps
five more.

That's the sort of thing you might expect with handset type if the
typesetter got sloppy moving letters into their final placement. It's
what could happen if the typesetter dropped the handheld stick which
first receives the type as it is removewd from its job case. It
couldn't happen that way with the Linotype, because it casts a whole
line of type at one time. (Mergenthaler's Linotype became available
commercially in 1884 or 1885. For most of the 19th century, type was
set by hand.)

My suggested solution may verge on a "just so story". What tempts me to
accept the possibility is what I have noticed in my own keyboarding. I
can go for many lines, up to whole pages, with no errors at all, but
once I make one typo I am very likely to make another (or several) in
direct succession to the first.

And, of course, I could be dead wrong in taking this line at all.

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

P.S.: I used to set type by hand, over fifty years ago. That was so
long ago that I've forgotten most of the vocabulary associated with the
process. I can visualize the process step by step. I see, in my mind's
eye, each of the tools and instruments that are used. I could even do a
rough sketch of most of them, I think. I just can't remember what the
damned things are called! (At this late date, there is no way I could
remember such details as the full layout of, e.g., the California job
case, one of the standard ways of storing the letters of a single
font). All of which is a neat demonstration, for items of vocabulary,
of the dictum "use it or lose it".