Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Turning like a ploughing ox

My word of the day - boustrophedon. Marvellous. It means writing alternate lines left to right and right to left, so that your pen - and your eye - doesn't have to keep darting across to the next line but simply drops down.

It looks rather like this: Today
erutcel doog yrev a ot tnew I
all about the Queen of Sheba
tuoba nwonk yllaer si gnihtoN*
her specifically, except what you read in the Bible, the Koran and in Jewish history, but the speaker put together a very interesting lecture about the history and geography of the Sheban region (more or less, modern Yemen) as well as her visit to King Solomon** and her almost mythical place in art and literature since. Nothing remains of the ancient Sheban palaces and very little of the temples or dams (they had a clever system of irrigation) but I suspect that there is a great deal of buried history that archaeologists have hardly started to find.

A couple of weeks ago I bemoaned the loss of my note book. I got a new one. And, unbelievably, I've left it behind, a calendar month after I lost the first. Fortunately, I realised at once rather than weeks later and I've phoned and they've rescued it for me.
I've never done such a thing before, I must be cracking up altogether. It's age, darlings, I'm falling apart mentally and physically.

*it is really tricky to type and to read, hence very short lines; I'm not surprised it isn't used any more.
Here's a fuller explanation
**Legend has it that some malicious types wanted to portray her as a demon and so they tricked her into revealing her hairy legs. Solomon was not deterred and in his turn he tricked her into agreeing to sleeping with him.


Imperatrix said...

When one plays Jass (the Swiss card game) and takes the bid, one can choose to play the hand as "Slalom", which means the first trick is won by the highest card, the second trick by the lowest card, the third by the highest, etc.

That's what this reminds me of, reading, slalom-style. I bet it would be easier with a word processing system that would automatically switch directions for you. (But I'd have the first line start left to right.)


Z said...

'It looks rather like this:' was the first line, Imperatrix.

I think some printers use this printing method. In fact, I've just checked out Wikipedia and I'll add the link