A new story from A Way with Words: language, linguistics, and callers from all over


Away with words, the show about language and how we use it. I'm grant Barrett. In a Martha Barnett. Leonardo da Vinci was a creative genius, of course, but he also had a really ingenious way of writing. You know about this, right, grant? Yeah, well, he wrote mirror image, right? Right. He started at the right hand side of the page and wrote toward the left. And he slanted his letters in that direction on each character was inked backward, right? Yeah, if you put a mirror up to it, it would make perfect sense to the rest of us. And nobody knows why he did that for sure. Some people think it was that he was trying to conceal what he was writing, but I think more likely is the fact that he was left handed. And if you're writing with ink across a page, you're not going to smear the letters. If you're doing that. That's right. Yeah, that's the smudge the telltale smudge on the left hander's arm. Yes. Yes. It was probably also a good exercise for his brain. But that reminds me of another of my favorite words, which is booster feedback. Oh, yeah. Yes. Am I remembering this correctly? So you start on the upper left as usual and you write to the right. But when you get to the end of the line, instead of going back to the start of the next line, you simply start at the end of the next line of move left. So it's a zigzag all the way down the page, left to right, right to left, left to right, and so forth. Yeah, it's like you're mowing a lawn. Yeah. Or like an ox plowing in the field. Oh, are we hearing that in the word? We are hearing the etymology of boost your feet and it comes from Greek words that mean ox turning because that kind of writing mimics the action of an ox pulling a plow. How about that?

Coming up next