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Correct Ancient Greek orthography

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Select one or several spelling conventions you do NOT like

ἦ ἵνα ὕβριν ἴδῃ Ἀγαμέμνονος Ἀτρεΐδαο; ("standard" Perseus spelling)
2
4%
Ἦ ἵνα ὕβριν ἴδῃ Ἀγαμέμνονος Ἀτρεΐδαο; (capital letter at the beginning of the sentence)
6
13%
ἦ ἵνα ὕϐριν ἴδῃ Ἀγαμέμνονος Ἀτρεΐδαο; (medial beta)
6
13%
ἦ ἵνα ὕβριν ἴδῃ Ἀγαμέμνονοc Ἀτρεΐδαο; (lunate sigma)
6
13%
ἦ ἵνα ὕβριν ἴδηι Ἀγαμέμνονος Ἀτρεΐδαο; (iota adscript)
7
15%
ἠ ἱνα ὑβριν ἰδῃ Ἀγαμεμνονος Ἀτρεϊδαο; (no accents)
7
15%
ἦ ἵνα ὕβριν ἴδῃ Ἀγαμέμνονος Ἀτρεΐδαο? (Latin question mark)
6
13%
Ē hina hubrin idēi Agamemnonos Atreïdāo? (Latin transliteration)
7
15%
 
Total votes : 47

Correct Ancient Greek orthography

Postby Paul Derouda » Mon Oct 28, 2013 7:40 pm

We all know there's only one correct way to write Ancient Greek, and every other way is utterly wrong, either an absurd leftover from Antiquity or the Middle Ages, or a stupid modernisation. Only we don't know which is what. I propose a democratic vote in the old Athenian way, open to all members of Textkit!

I wanted to make a poll with that asks about each spelling convention separately, but apparently that's not possible. Instead, you get to vote what you don't like. (Vote for as many as you want!)
Last edited by Paul Derouda on Mon Oct 28, 2013 8:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Correct Ancient Greek orthography

Postby Paul Derouda » Mon Oct 28, 2013 7:46 pm

EDIT: original post corrected.
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Re: Correct Ancient Greek orthography

Postby Scribo » Mon Oct 28, 2013 8:19 pm

See if a mod can edit it or just make a new thread? I get what you're going for and I don't really wish to get involved since I haven't read the older thread...

Also, you're all wrong. ; is a perfectly respectable marker for questions. It's what is used in modern times*, it looks nice and I don't think it's "ultra modern" in that it arose around the same time (9th century? 10th?) as the Latinate equivalent, though I really don't remember.

*As in modern Greek.
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Re: Correct Ancient Greek orthography

Postby Paul Derouda » Mon Oct 28, 2013 8:23 pm

I guess it's ok now. Also, I'm not wrong, since I like ; and dislike ?. :) (Which is what I voted for...)
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Re: Correct Ancient Greek orthography

Postby Paul Derouda » Mon Oct 28, 2013 9:08 pm

At present, the results are clear: one vote against each except medial beta and lunate sigma. Let's call Oxford University Press and Loeb tell them they should change their printing conventions: βάρϐαροϲ!
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Re: Correct Ancient Greek orthography

Postby Scribo » Mon Oct 28, 2013 9:14 pm

What witchcraft is this!? Haha I'll be meeting with someone from the press soon incidentally and I will tell them...absolutely nothing of the sort since the medial b is ugly. :twisted:

EDIT: Also I don't think I've seen it outside of France and, oddly, some communist brochures I picked up in Nafplio once when I was accidentally a communist.
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Re: Correct Ancient Greek orthography

Postby daivid » Tue Oct 29, 2013 1:18 am

I am shocked that I did not have the chance to vote for all capitals as Thucydides would have written. :shock:
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Re: Correct Ancient Greek orthography

Postby Markos » Tue Oct 29, 2013 3:10 am

The orthographic reform I would like to see most is keeping the rough breathing but getting rid of the smooth breathing as unnecessary. The irony is that often if the text is small and blurry, you can not tell if the breathing is smooth or rough, which would not be a problem if you got rid of one or the other.
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Re: Correct Ancient Greek orthography

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue Oct 29, 2013 7:48 pm

daivid wrote:I am shocked that I did not have the chance to vote for all capitals as Thucydides would have written. :shock:


Sorry, I forgot. And I suppose Homer really wrote in boustrophedon, I should have included that too...

Markos wrote:The orthographic reform I would like to see most is keeping the rough breathing but getting rid of the smooth breathing as unnecessary. The irony is that often if the text is small and blurry, you can not tell if the breathing is smooth or rough, which would not be a problem if you got rid of one or the other.


That's actually something I've thought about too, but I didn't remember to include that option. It's really annoying sometimes. But really it's only a problem with bad reprints of old books, even my OCT Homers are like that. New books are printed out of computer files, not bad scans, so I guess the problem doesn't exist, unless the font is really bad. If I wasn't such a conservative, I'd still definitely support this reform!

Scribo wrote:Also I don't think I've seen it outside of France and, oddly, some communist brochures I picked up in Nafplio once when I was accidentally a communist.


So you have actually seen Modern Greek printed with medial betas? That's nice. I like them, because normal betas are pretty big and clumsy in most fonts, they don't look so good inside words. And the rare times I write Greek on paper, I use them, mostly just for eccentricity's sake though. But I didn't know there was a political message too, I can use those betas to show my vaguely leftist sympathies... ;)
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Re: Correct Ancient Greek orthography

Postby pster » Wed Oct 30, 2013 1:23 pm

I doubt the Athenians used that method of voting.
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Re: Correct Ancient Greek orthography

Postby mwh » Thu Oct 31, 2013 8:51 pm

Only after voting (but not caring a whole lot about any of them) did I notice the option without accents. I'd like to reapply all my against votes to this single one! Accents are indispensable, they pack so much information! Of all the diacritics they're the very last I'd be willing to give up.

Like Markos I see no point whatever in the smooth breathing. Just another medieval relic, not serving any function that the naked letter wouldn't. And its abandonment would save us having to squint to make out whether it's rough or smooth: any breathing would be rough. In short, a wholly unnecessary bit of clutter. Latin marks only aspiration, not non-aspiration. Why shouldn't Greek?

As to the rough, on the other hand, I would like to see aspiration consistently marked, including internally, e.g. εξανἕϲτηκε, προἱέναι (again, as in Latin, as it happens). In my experience most people respect only word-initial aspiration when reading aloud, but obviously they shouldn't. This can aid comprehension too. (And it's even in line with ancient practice!)

And while I'm about it, what validity does double aspiration as in e.g. καθ’ ἡμέραν have? Why not just καθ’ ημέραν, or better καθ’ημέραν without word-space?

As for transliteration, I tend to use q for theta, w for omega, h for eta. Just for myself and informal correspondence, of course. Not wholly satisfactory, but it usually works well enough.
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Re: Correct Ancient Greek orthography

Postby Scribo » Thu Oct 31, 2013 10:05 pm

I'd never thought of how pointless the ) was before, wow. Also, the old Teach Yourself Ancient Greek apparently didn't use any accents whatsoever, on the basis that you may as well pronounce Greek like English and the lack of composition. Note, I don't know this first hand hence *apparently* but why would my source lie?

I personally love accents. I agree on bad print though making stuff hard to discern, but who am I to complain? you should see my handwriting. I can proudly say I often make use of three scripts in which I am practically illegible and know several others in which I genuinely am illegible. One of the problems I had with Akkadian was the fact that I was essentially just assaulting the page with my pen...

I wouldn't be too excited about modern medial bhtas since I think it was just a free font they had got hold of, communists and all that.
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Re: Correct Ancient Greek orthography

Postby Paul Derouda » Sun Nov 10, 2013 11:34 pm

mwh wrote:As to the rough, on the other hand, I would like to see aspiration consistently marked, including internally, e.g. εξανἕϲτηκε, προἱέναι (again, as in Latin, as it happens). In my experience most people respect only word-initial aspiration when reading aloud, but obviously they shouldn't. This can aid comprehension too. (And it's even in line with ancient practice!)

I remember reading somewhere (maybe Sidney Allen's Vox Graeca) that words like φίλιππος had internal aspiration when they were used as generic words (in this case "horse-loving") but the aspiration tended to disappear with time when the words crystalized, for example in proper names (e.g. "Philip"). I don't remember on what evidence this was concluded. Is there a consensus as to what words have internal aspiration and which do not? (I have no idea, I'm just wondering).

As to this vote, the results do look like very decisive. But I think it's nice everybody likes accents! (BTW, I can confirm that the old Teach Yourself doesn't have accents. I've never forgiven that book for having taught me bad habits.)
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Re: Correct Ancient Greek orthography

Postby mwh » Mon Nov 11, 2013 2:55 am

I guess a name such as Philip is a special case; presumably it was no longer felt as a compound. Evidence would be inscriptional?

Whatever do people have against lunate sigma?
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Re: Correct Ancient Greek orthography

Postby Paul Derouda » Mon Nov 11, 2013 5:58 am

Paul Derouda wrote:As to this vote, the results do look like very decisive.

As to this vote, the results do not look like very decisive, that's what I wanted to say...

I can't imagine any other reason to dislike lunate sigma than traditionalism. I think it's ok and I guess for papyri etc. it must be better, because you don't always know what part of a word the sigma was in badly preserved writing.
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Re: Correct Ancient Greek orthography

Postby Scribo » Mon Nov 11, 2013 2:22 pm

mwh wrote:I guess a name such as Philip is a special case; presumably it was no longer felt as a compound. Evidence would be inscriptional?

Whatever do people have against lunate sigma?


The lunate sigma...when not at the end just looks terrible to my eyes. Anyway, Philipos. First thing that comes to mind is the near eastern regnal stuff after Alexander III's conquests, they're phonetic and don't mention /h/ but then they're errant in that they probably represent Macedonian pronunciation since the /ph/ is actually a voiced labiodental fricative like you'd expect from e.g zeirene vs seirene. So interesting, understudied, but also useless.
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Re: Correct Ancient Greek orthography

Postby mwh » Mon Nov 11, 2013 7:00 pm

The question was not actually about φ⟩π but about aspirate on internal -ιππ. I can well believe it was lost in e.g. names such as P(h)il(h)ippos, i.e. in words where there was no longer much sense of its being a compound, but surely the aspirate was retained in e.g. εξανἕϲτηκε, προἱέναι, to repeat the examples I gave in my earlier post, and I wish it were represented in our texts, both as a practical matter (it would be useful) and for the sake of consistency. But if internal lunate sigma "looks terrible" to you, I guess this would too :). As Paul indicates, traditionalism is a powerful thing.
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Re: Correct Ancient Greek orthography

Postby Scribo » Mon Nov 11, 2013 8:05 pm

I gathered what you meant, I was just pointing to an instance of phonetic transcription without the latter aspiration but then pointing out how odd that case was anyway.
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Re: Correct Ancient Greek orthography

Postby Interaxus » Mon Nov 11, 2013 8:23 pm

Marcos:

Totally agree. I've always prayed publishers would see the light and get rid of smooth breathings - which are of no use to anyone but spectacle makers. Here's an idea: Why doesn't some enthusiast produce online versions of some key classical texts without smoothies. Could be billed initially as a 'pedagogical aid' for tyros. Later, they would become so sought after that everyone else would just have to follow suit. News would spread on Twitter leading to an Orthographical Spring. Just dreaming.

Here's a link to a Wikipedia article showing the Lord's Prayer in modern (monotonic) Greek - acute accents only and no breathings - side by side with a traditional polytonic version:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_diacritics#Introduction_of_breathings

Just need to add rough breathings (and restore grave and circumflex accents) and there we have it: Modern Polytonic!

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Re: Correct Ancient Greek orthography

Postby Paul Derouda » Mon Nov 11, 2013 10:57 pm

mwh wrote:I guess a name such as Philip is a special case; presumably it was no longer felt as a compound. Evidence would be inscriptional?

I found the passage in Allen, it's p. 55. He seems to agree more or less with you. He says: "Latin transcriptions show considerable variation, and this may have been a feature of Greek speech itself; the presence of aspiration in such forms could well have depended upon the extent to which the two elements of the compound were still recognized as such by the speaker."

But this sort of reasoning would mean that for a native Greek, /h/ didn't properly belong word-internally - it could be accepted there only in compounds, and as soon as the word isn't felt as a compound, the /h/ disappears. If this is the situation, how can we safely reconstruct internal aspiration everywhere? How do we always know whether the writer felt the word was a compound? (I don't know anything about phonology, but why would /h/ disappear word-internally but not word-initially? Is there any other theory, like (just a guess) interference from psilotic dialects, on crystalized names like Philip?)
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Re: Correct Ancient Greek orthography

Postby Paul Derouda » Mon Nov 11, 2013 11:15 pm

Another thing: why don't we have proper Greek typography? Why is Greek always printed in fancy but not so readable italic sans-serif fonts? Why don't we have the equivalent of easily readable fonts like Times for Greek? Reading even your own language in italic tires you quickly and makes you slower - but that sort of font is about the only thing we have for Greek. The most readable Greek font I've seen is the one used by Budé, and even that is sans-serif, like our Helvetica. Have you ever seen a "real" English book printed in Helvetica? And this isn't just a question of getting used to it, it's for a reason the Germans gave up their fraktur and all the newspaper fonts look the same nowadays all over the Western world.
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Re: Correct Ancient Greek orthography

Postby daivid » Tue Nov 12, 2013 1:55 am

Paul Derouda wrote:Another thing: why don't we have proper Greek typography? Why is Greek always printed in fancy but not so readable italic sans-serif fonts? Why don't we have the equivalent of easily readable fonts like Times for Greek? Reading even your own language in italic tires you quickly and makes you slower - but that sort of font is about the only thing we have for Greek. The most readable Greek font I've seen is the one used by Budé, and even that is sans-serif, like our Helvetica. Have you ever seen a "real" English book printed in Helvetica? And this isn't just a question of getting used to it, it's for a reason the Germans gave up their fraktur and all the newspaper fonts look the same nowadays all over the Western world.

I did a quick google and came up with this http://www.uv.es/~mperea/serif_JCP.pdf which suggest that the evidence that serifs help is sparse and inconclusive. It may however be that, when reading a language that is not your native language, serifs are helpful.
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Re: Correct Ancient Greek orthography

Postby mwh » Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:05 am

Not sure I can keep up with this flurry of activity. :)

First, apologies to Scribo for misunderstanding.

Thanks to Paul for the WSAllen quote. Vox Graeca remains the Bible on this stuff.

I don't think there can be much doubt about compound verbs (exanesthke e.g.) continuing to be felt as compounds. How could they not be? And e.g. afesthke confirms the aspiration (assuming the representation to be trustworthy, but I don't think it's ever queried, except perhaps in some post by Qimmik for tragic dialogue). But I expect there may in practice have been degrees of aspiration according to dialect and kind of word and individual, so it may not always be a black&white either/or matter as far as the actual phonetics were concerned (at least in non-psilotic dialects, but perhaps even there). But etymology tells us what "should" be aspirated and what not, and phonology seems generally to conform. And there's no difference in principle between word-initial and word-internal aspiration. (Quite apart from the What-is-a-word? problem.)

Int, I'm afraid any Orthographical Spring is going to have to come from the top not the bottom. If some respected and powerful editor were to insist on printing texts without smoothies and with internal roughies .... Martin West where are you in our hour of need?

I'll leave modern typography for another day. I rather like the OCT font myself, and dislike the Bude. Not sure why, never thought about it. I find the old OCT Plato looks far better on the page than the new one, mind. -- But don't let's switch the thread from orthography.
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Re: Correct Ancient Greek orthography

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:53 pm

mwh wrote: And there's no difference in principle between word-initial and word-internal aspiration

But what makes the internal aspiration disappear then once the word "was no longer felt as a compound"?

I know there was the phenomenon of intervocalic sigmas disappearing via /h/, but I think that happened too early. And it wouldn't explain phil(h)ippos.
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Re: Correct Ancient Greek orthography

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue Nov 12, 2013 4:33 pm

Typography: I guess you're right, Daivid, that serif or sans-serif is not the point. But I think italic/oblique fonts are clearly more difficult to read. Of course, it depends on the font. But at least I find it annoying to read longer sections of text in italic, even in my own language.

Mark that a readable font isn't necessarily a very beautiful one and vice versa. The Budés are all extremely readable, though I prefer their older font (or one of the older ones, maybe there are several?) The old OCT Plato is nice but it's taxing to read (if we're talking about the same one).

Look at this Hesiod from 1772 I found at an old books store in Lissabon in September, a find for 20 euros. The Greek font is very beautiful, but it certainly illustrates the tradition of frivolous Greek typography we still haven't got rid of. Sure Latin is dull compared to Greek, but you don't have to show it with typography!
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Re: Correct Ancient Greek orthography

Postby Scribo » Tue Nov 12, 2013 6:31 pm

Ah two of my least favourite things: Macs and old text editions.
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Re: Correct Ancient Greek orthography

Postby daivid » Tue Nov 12, 2013 7:37 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:Typography: I guess you're right, Daivid, that serif or sans-serif is not the point. But I think italic/oblique fonts are clearly more difficult to read. Of course, it depends on the font. But at least I find it annoying to read longer sections of text in italic, even in my own language.

Mark that a readable font isn't necessarily a very beautiful one and vice versa. The Budés are all extremely readable, though I prefer their older font (or one of the older ones, maybe there are several?) The old OCT Plato is nice but it's taxing to read (if we're talking about the same one).

Look at this Hesiod from 1772 I found at an old books store in Lissabon in September, a find for 20 euros. The Greek font is very beautiful, but it certainly illustrates the tradition of frivolous Greek typography we still haven't got rid of. Sure Latin is dull compared to Greek, but you don't have to show it with typography!


Ahhh! - it's unreadable (and to me ugly). But be fair, most modern texts have nothing close to that.
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Re: Correct Ancient Greek orthography

Postby mwh » Wed Nov 13, 2013 4:49 am

Paul Derouda wrote:
mwh wrote: And there's no difference in principle between word-initial and word-internal aspiration

But what makes the internal aspiration disappear then once the word "was no longer felt as a compound"?

Well, /h/ is easily effaced, isn't it (and cf. Cat. 84 for hypercorrection)? It's a very volatile sound. But a proper name such as Filippos, which does indeed seem to have lost its internal aspirate, is very much the exception rather than the rule, and we shouldn't allow it to sidetrack us. (But we are all so easily sidetracked, aren't we?) In the case of ordinary compound verbs, adjectives, nouns, whatever, there's no reason that I know of to imagine that the aspirate disappeared.

Of course it's difficult to track the phonetic realities. Educated people wrote as they were taught, not necessarily as they spoke. Inscriptions provide a certain amount of evidence, fairly hard evidence when they deviate from "correct" orthographies. So do puns and the like in Aristophanes and elsewhere. And so do papyrus texts written by semi-literates. Without conducting an proper survey I have the impression that they indicate no more loss or vacillation of word-internal aspiration than of word-initial.

So the question remains, Why don't we mark internal aspiration? Is there any less irrational answer than "Because we don't"?
Maybe you should have another poll on this, but given the resistance your new poll shows to the idea of dropping the absolutely functionless smooth breathing, I'm guessing it wouldn't get much support.

Paul Derouda wrote:I know there was the phenomenon of intervocalic sigmas disappearing via /h/, but I think that happened too early. And it wouldn't explain phil(h)ippos.

I agree, much too early to be relevant.
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