Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Good Text Criticism Word

The M-W Word of the Day for today has a familiar ring for text critics. The word is "haplology" \hap-LAH-luh-jee\ , the "contraction of a word by omission of one or more similar sounds or syllables." Haplology is more commonly used to refer to spoken language. We're more familiar with the term as it relates to written language, "haplography" -- the accidental omission of a letter or group of letters that should be repeated. When we come across problems of haplography in the Hebrew Bible, we usually assume a scribal error. I wonder if some of the instances of haplography visible in the text could be instances of haplology, that is, based on a different pronunciation, not a writing mistake. I don't know if this is the case. I'm not sure how one would detect the difference, but I'll keep thinking about it.

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