Sunday, November 28, 2010

Homoioteleuton Strikes! many ways

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When a significant amount of text is repeated shortly beyond the first instance, then many opportunities for an unfortunate alignment are possible, as copying continues.

Paradoxically, it is not possible to say what the exact layout was in a given case, or what text was actually skipped, even though we are certain of both the starting text and the final text.  Many essentially different mistakes can generate the exact same text.

Scribes often vary the format: number of columns per page, line-width, page size.  Copying with variation results in constant realignment of text and new dangers.

Above we show how several different text-alignments with the same column width can provide hazards, and cause the omission of the exact same text independently in locations far away from one another, and under completely different conditions.  Especially in cases where copyists are justifying both sides of a column and splitting words to fit,

          number of letter-alignments = (the number of letters - 1) 

(at least one letter must be left on the previous line)

Column-width changes can also provide even more variations in alignment.  See the examples below.    When repeated phrases are a large distance apart, the intervening text in danger can break up into whole lines a number of ways.

The total number of layouts that can easily generate the same homoioteleuton error becomes:

   Layouts  = (number of line splits  X  number of letter-alignments)

Below, the text in danger spans two lines. 

In a different format, the same text is again in danger:

This text could also align again over three lines in a narrower column.

(3 x 2) = 6 independent ways a layout in a master-copy could spur the omission of the same text, in different locations, different times, and different unrelated lines of transmission.

This means that even when two manuscripts share the exact same text, indicating a homoioteleuton error, one such coincidence cannot demonstrate a genealogical dependency or an earlier error in a master-copy.   Only multiple cases in the same pair of copies could confirm a common ancestor by "agreement in error".


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