Friday, October 9, 2009

Silent Reading and Scribes

The issue of silent reading in India has also some consequences for textual criticism. If one could ascertain that silent reading became the rule in, for instance, the 17th c., then one could imagine that scribes copying a manuscript were no more used to read aloud (even if with a low tone of voice) and that hence focused on what they were seeing rather than on what they were hearing. A component linked to the form of what one sees will possibly always be present (in a scriptorium where a single person reads and dictates, that single person might accidentally read an 'e' instead of an anusvāra, etc.). But until now we are used to consider also aural kinds of errors (e.g.: ta instead of da in the South), which should become less and less frequent if silent reading is the rule.


AC said...

The aural kinds of errors are more likely to occur when one writes by dictation.

elisa freschi said...

Yes, thank you. But I guess that if one is used to read aloud, then one would read the text aloud and write it on the new folio as if dictated. On the other hand, if no sound is involved "graphic" mistakes are more likely to occur. For instance, an unusual consonant cluster could be reproduced by adding a short vowel if one has heard it, but as a different cluster if one has just considered its shape.

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