Query: the solution to the problem will recreate the problem

Nichols, Wendalyn WNichols at RANDOMHOUSE.COM
Thu Jan 25 17:22:53 UTC 2001

Regarding Mike's query copied below:

Get yourself a copy of Stephen Glazier's Word Menu. You look things up by
categories, and he gives you words with definitions to fit those categories.
If you look up 'writing' in the index, it tells you to go to the Linguistics
and Writing Systems category. That category lists _boustrophedon_, 'ancient
form of writing in which lines alternate running right to left and left to

>>>There's a common thread in Marie's question and my memory of having lost
the word "iatrogenic" time and again until events finally fixed it in my
head.  I'd love to head what some of our leading dictionary experts have
to say about something no dictionary ever solves for me.  What do you do
when you know there's a word for something, but have no memory of the
word itself?

I just thought of an example that has frustrated me more than once. What
do you call a writing system that begins in a corner, goes in one
direction until it comes to the other side of the writing surface, then
turns around and goes back?  One line is written from left to right, the
next from right to left, and so on.  I know that there is a word for
that; I even think I remember that its etymology has to do with the way
oxen (or is that mules or horses?) would pull a simple plow across a
field. But I can't look it up until I remember it, at which point I
won't need to look it up.

There just doesn't seem to be any way a dictionary could help me with
that kind of problem.  The only way I can think of that might produce an
answer would be to ask
anybody and everybody I can talk to if they happen to know the word. . .
If I ever found someone claiming to know, then I'd have something to
take to a dictionary for verification.  But where is there a dictionary
equivalent of a criss-cross (or reverse) telephone directory?

-- mike salovesh                    <salovesh at niu.edu>

P.S.:  Funny how memory works.  All of a sudden I have the impression
that the word I seek for a kind of writing system starts, maybe, with
something like "bucepholo- "  I'll go to the next room and check it out
in our collection of dictionaries -- on my way to bed, after I log off
this system.

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