[b-greek] Re: [b-greek]transliteration

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Thu Mar 28 2002 - 07:17:08 EST

At 10:44 AM +0000 3/28/02, Maurice A. O'Sullivan wrote:
>At 07:35 28/03/02, c stirling bartholomew wrote:
>>Many of us, by the way, don't read the transliterated Greek in the posts
>>anyway, we just open up the text in Accordance or whatever and read it

But if that's the case, it's not because the transliterated Greek is
unintelligible, whereas the copied & pasted Greek text depends very much
upon the Greek fonts one has in one's computer's operating system, and
that's very likely to come out as gobbledy-gook on screens of those who
don't have the same system.

>Good advice, which I strongly endorse.
>Surely it is only in a few cases, such as textual variants, grammatical
>queries involving differing forms, antecedents etc that transliteration is
>required, and then only the relevant terms rather than chunks of text?
>Should we not take it as a given on a list named B-GREEK that the text,
>either in printed or electronic form, is to hand?

That's fine, and I do that myself when I receive a BG message that doesn't
cite the text, but in responding I (personally) cite the relevant parts of
the text in our standard transliteration scheme; I prefer for my own part
to have the text immediately in the message where I'm commenting or
responding. Many indeed do send messages asking questions about a text
which they don't cite--and sometimes it's not even clear that they're
asking a question about the Greek text at all.

In his off-list complaint to me about my complaint regarding this matter,
Dave Willis cited that BG FAQ regarding transliteration schemes, pointing
out the opening sentence in particular:

>19. How do I transliterate Greek in messages sent to B-Greek?
> 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.

It is true that we haven't dictated use of one particular transliteration
scheme over another, but from my perspective "Greek" text pasted into a
message from a copied text composed in a Greek font is not a
transliteration at all, and as I've said before and repeat, it's likely to
appear as gobbledygook on most reader's screens.

Ultimately I think that using a conventional transliteration scheme when
citing Greek is a matter of courtesy in e-communication. The FAQ doesn't
dictate use of one particular scheme; probably Beta-code is the most
precise of all schemes; many use our conventional scheme with variants (X
for Chi instead of C for Chi; TH for Theta instead of Q for theta; even C
for Xi, probably because one has already used X for Chi).

When I first started transliterating text for BG messages I DID have
initial difficulties because the equivalencies are far different from those
of the SMK GreeKeys fonts that I had used for years as a teacher in
preparing materials for class, but the difficulties are not nearly as great
as those we had when, though native users of a Roman alphabet, we were
learning Greek for the first time and nowhere near difficult as those we
had learning Hebrew.

Perhaps we SHOULD require a single scheme of transliteration, although I'm
not prepared at this point to urge it upon my co-moderators. Most new
list-members have adapted to our conventional scheme without complaining
about it, and those who have used lower-case characters instead of
upper-case and have omitted breathing marks and subscripts (however helpful
these are in recognition of morphological elements) have at least
endeavored and have, I think, succeeded, in making their cited Greek
intelligible to other list-members.

I repeat that, in my own view, transliterating the Greek one cites or
raises questions about or comments upon is a matter of courtesy to other
list-members. I personally think that pasting from a Greek text into ASCII
equivalents in a message implies either an expectation that the reader has
the same font in one's own operating system or that one doesn't care
whether others can readily read that text or not. I would personally rather
see an authentically-transliterated text in a message than a pasted text,
and I tend, like George Somsel, to ignore a text that doesn't use SOME
intelligible transliteration scheme.

Carl W. Conrad
Co-Chair, B-Greek List
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu OR cwconrad@ioa.com
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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