1547 c/o Wes Schofield

Simple Words

Martynas Mažvydas wrote a book. Some other guy printed it. I don’t know his name.

The book Mr. Mažvydas wrote was the very first book printed in the Lithuanian language. It also happens to be the most prominent example of syntactical-intonational prosody we have today. Whatever that means.

It used to be a lot of work to print things. It involved plates. And presses. And little tiny metal letters placed on plates and set into presses where they were covered with ink and stamped against pieces of paper. Then it had to be taken apart, cleaned up, and all the little tiny letters re-arranged, and the whole process repeated again many times because that was only for the first page.

Or something like that. I’m not a doctor. Nor was I bothered to enter the thirteen keystrokes it would have taken to have the Google search engine elucidate me on the history of the printing press complete with color diagrams and a proper bibliography. It’s not that I wasn’t interested, but this is a fictional story so I’m okay with just making things up.

It was also some guy’s job to make the little tiny metal letters. His name was Betty and he was a smelter by trade. He poured molten iron into little tiny metal casts shaped like little tiny letters in order to form the little tiny metal letters. He made the little tiny metal casts too, a completely different process, but it’s pretty dull so I won’t get into it.

So thanks to Betty and a whole slew of people, most of whom have names more appropriate sounding for their chosen profession, we have this book, The Simple Words of Catechism, by Martynas Mažvydas.

And because there was this book, there is now this very short story, which although not completely bereft of effort, or certainly, I would guess anyways, considerably less effort than it took for the twenty-seven various individuals, who all together devoted approximately five hundred hours of their time, to make Martynas Mažvydas book available to the Lithuanian public.

However, I would be neglectful not to mention that this very short story was itself crafted upon a computer using a word processor, two inventions of technology which themselves were created over a period of many decades by countless teams of individuals, working at times independently and at other times in tandem, for a variety of different organizations, often in separate countries but not always, improving upon the work of their predecessors, until these instruments for creation finally reached the level of sophistication they are at today. So while it may be very simple for me to type this story out, giving it whatever font I desire from of a vast number of typographical options, fonts that in and of themselves were designed by some third party, then print numerous copies of this story to be handed out to family and friends, or otherwise distribute it widely over the internet where is can be ignored by millions of people, these things are possible only as a result of the various contributions of hundreds, if not thousands of people, the likelihood of which is that at least one and perhaps even a few share the name of Betty.

So while it might be said, whether it is completely inaccurate or not I cannot say, as I have already explained I’m not a doctor, that this very short piece of fiction based upon the real life creation of Martynas Mažvydas' book, The Simple Words of Catechism, is only now possible to due the efforts of the sum total of all the individuals previously mentioned as well as the compound efforts of numerous individuals I have neglected to mention, not out of malice or any particular feeling of ill will towards any of said people, simply because this is a story and not a grocery list.

Suffice to say nineteen of them were named Betty and each one holds a place in my heart.