Re: Use of Greek in Email and Chatrooms for Teaching 1st Year Greek

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri May 14 1999 - 14:45:59 EDT

At 1:27 PM -0400 5/14/99, Bob Wilkin wrote:
>I am new to b-Greek. My ministry is starting a school of theology in which
>we will be teaching Greek and Hebrew. I have been advised that it is very
>difficult to use Greek fonts in email messages and that it is practically
>impossible in chatrooms. Is this correct?

For now that is unquestionably true. Our estimable list-owner, Jonathan
Robie (whose current whereabouts are unknown, but who was last heard of in
the vicinity of the French Riviera) says that when we all have a common
unicode standard for fonts, it might be possible. But for now, the only
persons who can read Greek typed into an e-mail message are those who have
the same Greek font installed into their system. And occasionally we get
messages on B-Greek where people have pasted a snippet from a Biblical
Greek program into a message; for almost all readers it comes out as
gobbledygook and can be VERY annoying.

>I have been advised that we might require all students and faculty to use
>Word 7.0 and to use the same version of Greek and Hebrew, and then
>attachments or email which is dropped in from Word should be readable.

It will, so long as it is addressed only to and from your students and
faculty. But can you really impose that sort of uniformity on students and
faculty without providing them all with computers?

>Re. transliteration, I read the rationale for the all cap method (plus i
>and h) and since I have been used to the other method, I find it a bit hard
>to read YUCH as psyche or psuche. (I prefer y for upsilon.) Even without
>accents to distinguish epsilon from eta and omega from omicron, the lower
>case method seems less confusing. I would welcome advice from those who
>learned transliteration in lower case and converted to this uncial method.

(a) We haven't imposed a transliteration standard on B-Greek; our FAQ
suggests three different schemes but still doesn't say people must use one
of them. The Uncial scheme has one advantage only: it readily distinguishes
the Greek from the message itself. There are those who don't use it but
write in lower-case letters; I find that harder but by no means impossible
to read.

(b) The most common transliteration scheme we use (and I've ultimately come
to manage it without too much difficulty) seems based on the Graeca or
SuperGreekUBS fonts which do have these equivalents; in my own work in
typing materials in a word-processor and for class use I regularly use the
SDK fonts that have U for Upsilon, Y for Theta, V for Omega, C for Psi, and
X for Chi. Perhaps its writing "uncials" in e-mail that allows me to keep
my sanity while typing Greek in two different schemes, but I doubt I'm the
only one who has to make that kind of an adjustment for the sake of e-mail.
I should add that I never learned lower-case transliteration (except for
Beta Code, which I consider a different animal); occasionally, however, I
read some of the modern Greek newsgroups that use a standard lower-case
transliteration; the difference there is that the entire message is in
Greek, whereas our messages on B-Greek are mostly in English, though
sometimes in Spanish, rarely in German, occasionally in Katharevousa,
sometimes even in gobbledygook.

Don't despair! You will probably get other advice from others that is more
to your liking--and welcome to the list.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243

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