Re: Transcription

Carl W. Conrad (
Sat, 24 Aug 1996 09:05:11 -0500

At 3:59 PM -0500 8/23/96, Richard Lindeman wrote:
>I believe that at one time or another a suggested transcription table
>was published here for typing Greek with the english typewriter.
>Could someone please re-post that table to the conference?

Here's the write-up that Edward Hobbs posted last month:

Date: Wed, 24 Jul 1996 15:11:34 -0500 (EST)
From: Edward Hobbs <>
Subject: Usual Transliteration scheme on this List
Mime-Version: 1.0

Periodically, newcomers have raised the question of what system
of transliteration is used on the B-Greek List. After several
promptings, a small group of "senior" (read: "old") members of
the List have put together an agreed-on message. This message
has the approval of our List Owner, David John Marotta, who will
try to add it to the Welcome message for new subscribers. He has
also recommended that it be posted regularly, for the benefit of
everyone on the List. Note that nothing herein is prescriptive!
The text of the message follows.


B-Greek has from the beginning allowed every poster to use
any scheme he/she found comfortable, since we all could usually
figure out what text was meant. For those who wish some
guidance, a generally accepted scheme has evolved on the List,
with two or three matters still not fully settled.

(1) CAPITALS are used when transliterating Greek letters, on a
one-to-one basis, reserving lower-case {i} to represent
iota-subscript and lower-case {h} to represent rough breathing.
No accents, no smooth breathings. And no distinction between
medial and final Sigma.

(2) If accents are really necessary, to distinguish otherwise
identical words, acute is represented by {/}, grave by {\}, and
circumflex either by tilde {~ [preferable]} or {=} -- always
AFTER the vowel over which it would be written.

(3) A few characters without Roman single-character form are
usually done with almost-look-alike Roman characters otherwise

Theta = Q
Eta = H
Psi = Y (upsilon is always U)
Omega = W

(4) Digraphs (in the usual Roman transliteration) are handled in
three different ways to avoid two-letter transliterations, all
involving otherwise-unused Roman letters:

THeta uses Q ("look-alike", as above).
PSi uses Y ("look-alike", as above).
PHi uses F (sound equivalence).
CHi uses C (first letter of traditional digraph).

(5) Xi and Chi: There being no single Roman letter for "Xi"
other than X, the "look-alike" use of X for "Chi" is confusing,
though some use it. And some seem to like to use C for "Sigma."
Since S is otherwise unused, and poses no confusion whatever,
using C for "Sigma" makes for problems in decoding back to Greek,
especially since it is the only letter available for "Chi"
(unless X is used, thus posing a problem for "Xi"). And
occasionally someone uses P for "Rho", making problems for how to
represent "Pi".


Usual in Traditional
B-Greek (uses macrons and digraphs)

alpha A a
beta B b
gamma G g
delta D d
epsilon E e
zeta Z z
eta H e with macron
theta Q th
iota I i
kappa K k
lambda L l
mu M m
nu N n
xi X x
omicron O o
pi P p
rho R r
sigma S s
tau T t
upsilon U u
phi F ph
chi C ch
psi Y ps
omega W o with macron

rough breathing h h
iota-subscript i (i)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR