Monday, January 4, 2010

Proofreading, part 20

The other form of computer checking involves much more sophisticated software, and further reduces the chance of human error. In the process we've just been talking about, the letters were fed to me automatically, but I still had to use my brain to identify them and see that they were kosher. In this process, there's barely any brain involved at all.

In this process, the operator uses a hand-held scanner to get the columns of text into the computer. Then it is run through OCR software - very clever software, which not only recognises letter glyphs but can also be taught to handle variations in glyphs caused by its being hand-written. Because it is a computer, it can also be taught some of the laws of whether a letter is kosher or not, so it can apply those mechanically to each glyph and flag up any doubtful cases.

Finally, the OCR output is compared to a Torah text, and any discrepancies are flagged up along with the doubtfully-kosher ones. A report with all problems is generated and given back with the scroll to the sofer, who then goes through the list and fixes everything on it.

Scan report
Scan report

Like this. Column 003, says the first entry on this report, which starts “Vayomer Adonai Elohim” - one comment. Line 21 (Bereshit 3:5), problem, thus: extra letter vav in the word “mimenu,” where it should say “...yodea Elohim ki b'yom akhalkhem mimenu v'nifkedu eineikhem...” and then in the picture you can see it's got “v'mimenu,” for some reason or other.

I think I probably started writing the mem, got distracted mid-stroke, forgot I'd already started it, and started it over, but I don't remember now.

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