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Subject: Re: the scribe's posture
From: Pamela O'Neill <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Scholars and students of Old Irish <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 2 Apr 2010 13:44:58 +1100

text/plain (40 lines)

Thanks, Dennis - gorgeous!  I understand that draftsmen and architectural
drawing people still (or at least did until computers took over) use such
slanted work surfaces - the tech drawing room at my high school (into which
only boys were allowed!) had high sloping desks.  As one who has suffered
with bad back pain, I can vouch for their ergonomic advantages.  However,
one would hope that the postures of the scribes in some of these images are
not quite accurate - I hurt just looking at them!!

On 2 April 2010 12:49, Dennis King <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Six images of the medieval scribe at work.
> Was the slanted desk top ergonomic?  Did it strain his wrists?  Was it an
> artistic convention to portray it that way?
> Irish scribes routinely complained in marginalia of cold, bad light, poor
> ink, inferior vellum, and generally of their bouts of ill health.  Off hand,
> though, I know of just one scribe who complained about a muscle cramp, but
> it may be telling:
> "Na tabrad aon da leigfe so guth [ar] in leitir sin, oir do crap in cusli
> agam le imarcad mogsaine."
> "No one who reads this should blame the lettering, for my wrist / forearm
> has cramped from too much toil."
> Annals of Loch CÚ, ii. 328
> Dennis

Dr Pamela O'Neill, FSA Scot
Honorary Associate, School of Letters Art and Media, University of Sydney
Honorary Fellow, School of Historical Studies, University of Melbourne

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