A little while ago I made a post about benches [ch] and [sh] at the start of a line. In the post I attempted to “restore” words with initial benches by removing preceding glyphs. The attempt wasn’t a great success and I could not find the solid answer that I wanted.
I’ve begun approaching the problem of line patterns more systematically, which I hope will provide more answers over time. One part of that approach is to work with parts of the text with a single scribe and topic. So everything in the following post will apply only to text written by Hand 1 on herbal pages.
Words with initial benches are less common in that first position than in the rest of the line. Yet the total number of word containing benches remains broadly unchanged. The table below provides the relative frequency of words containing [ch] and words with initial [ch].
I have limited the examples to [ch] as the pattern is stronger and clearer than for [sh]. (The frequency declines to the right due to another line pattern which reduces frequency in the last line position.)
The total number of words with initial [ch] which are missing from the first position is around 250-300 words, but it is impossible to estimate precisely.
In the earlier post I looked at words which might contain the benches which had been “moved” to the middle of a word. It appears that the glyphs [y], [d], [o], [s], [t], and [p] all have a higher frequency before [ch] in the first line position. But I don’t want to discuss that yet.
The more interesting question concerns the words with initial [ch] which remain in the first line position. If we look more closely at them we can see a striking pattern. (The table below shows the number of occurrences for words beginning with the specified strings, including those for which the string constitutes the complete word.)
The numbers are very clear: almost the only words with an initial [ch] in the first line position are those beginning [cho*]. Words beginning [che*], for which we might expect to see ten occurrences even at the reduced rate of initial [ch], simply don’t occur.
We can go one step further with this line of investigation. Words beginning [cho*] are themselves less common than expected, even if they do occur. Is there a pattern to what words with initial [cho*] remain?
(As before, the table below shows the number of occurrences for words beginning with the specified strings, including those for which the string constitutes the complete word.)
|[cho] (Complete word)||2||16||13||8||3|
We can see that while words beginning [chok*] and [chot*] remain in line with the expected numbers, all other words are less common than expected. Words beginning [chor*] and [chol*] are particularly less common (most of these, in all positions are the complete words [chor] and [chol]).
(As a side note, words with final [l] are less common in the first line position, but words with final [r] are more common, so the numbers about about [chor] and [chol] don’t clearly fit into a wider pattern.)
The process which decreases the number of words with initial [ch] in the first line position is not random. It does not indiscriminately reduce the numbers of such words so that they are all less common. It strongly affects some words but leaves others untouched.
Words beginning [che*] and [cha*] are all gone. The words [chor], [chol], [chy] and [cho] are significantly reduced. But words beginning [chot*] and [chok*] are unaffected.
Of those words beginning [chot*] and [chok*], only three have more than one token in the first line position, the rest being unique to this position. The process is not leaving specific words untouched, but words with specific features. The process is not dumb, and it does not work strictly on the initial glyph alone.
For those words with initial [ch] which appear to gain an extraneous glyph to begin [dch], [ych], [och], [sch], [tch], and [pch] in the first line position, it remains unknown why one glyph is chosen over another. It has been proposed, quite reasonably, that there is an influence from the last word of the line before. Yet the information in this post suggests that the process is aware of, and responsive to, the features in the word it affects. Words beginning [dch] may have some feature in common with one another which those beginning [ych] or [och] do not.