Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Proofreading, part 15

Broadening our scope back into the general activity of proofreading, we left off with me saying that one person checking the Torah by reference to a tikkun isn't terribly efficient, for several reasons. This is why tradition developed an alternative process, in which a Reader has the tikkun and a Sofer has the klaf. The Reader reads the letters from the tikkun one by one, and the Sofer checks them off.

This greatly reduces the chance of errors caused by misremembering. It also greatly reduces the amount of time spent moving one's gaze between the klaf and the tikkun, finding and refinding the place, stretching your neck up and down - considered over the length of the entire Torah, this is a considerable saving.

Further, the chance of erring by anticipating - seeing what you think should be there rather than what is there - is reduced, since the text is now being handled as a string of individual letters, rather than as words. To reduce it even further, some people read the text backwards, so it really does become just a string of letters, with no room for anticipation at all.

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