Thursday, May 19, 2005

Want Some Latin with Your Greek?

I am now writing a story -- it's actually kind of half-essay, half-story -- and will have to decide how to transliterate words in ancient Greek. The basic decision comes down to employing the spellings most common in English, which derive from Latin, or transliterating more literally the Greek alphabet. Olympus vs. Olympos, in other words; Hephaestus vs. Hephaistos.

My first impulse is to go with the Greek -- I am trying to evoke the experience of living in the Greek Age of the Gods, which should not be filtered through Roman recensions. This means emphasizing some distinctions most English readers do not really know about, like the fact that the Latin ligature æ is a transliteration of the Greek letters "ai" and should be pronounced with a long a rather than a long e. (The Latin ligature that should be pronounced with the long e is œ, as in œconomia and fœtus.)

This doesn't bother me, and certainly most readers have encountered spellings like "Hephaistos" and "daimon." But "ph" is itself a Latin creation, for that sound is rendered in Greek as one letter, phi. If you transliterate that properly as "f," you get words like Hefaistos, Fobos, and fallus, which I don't think readers will accept.


Anonymous L.N. Hammer said...

*nods* Everyone who writes classical runs into this. I've been running with lightly Latinized transliterations, with accepting the most familiar names. But I haven't been systematic about it -- I used Cyrene instead of Kyrene, but did go with Kalonike. I do ai > ae and oi > oe, because the average reader has trouble with the formers, especially next to other vowels.

I suspect I'll have to use Jocasta instead of Iocasta, or even Iokaste.


10:14 AM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

What's weird is that some things--Iocasta, Hefaistos--don't make me blink in the least, while others--Kyrene and fallus--do.

On the other hand, I'm the sort of reader who will blink once, then go "Oh, cool, I'm encountering something I haven't encountered before," and go with it. I know well that not every reader does this. I had some similar concerns writing Point of Honour; there were a few things I threw in just to have them there--a casual mention of birth control methods, for example (I was delighted and a little startled when you laughed at the mention of sea sponges and vinegar at a reading)--and other things I didn't want to include simply because overcoming reader resistance to the idea that these words or customs were current then would have taken too much time from the story.

Larry, for what it's worth, I think Iokaste is a lovely spelling, and conveys a difference and, um, antique-ness better than Jocasta.

10:44 AM  
Anonymous L.N. Hammer said...

Possibly, it'll depend on what her character is like. Euripidean ditz, Sophoclean cypher, or Gravesean matriarch?


11:22 AM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

{Meditating upon the concept of a Euripidean ditz.}

5:21 PM  
Anonymous L.N. Hammer said...

Check out Phoenician Women, both her first scene with Polyniekes ("You never call, you never right, you never even invited me to your wedding. Just because your father cursed you is no reason to never let me see my only grandchildren!") and the grand climax of dithering.


5:47 PM  
Anonymous L.N. Hammer said...

Er, "never write."

5:48 PM  
Blogger Gregory Feeley said...

I recall that John Gardner, in his book-length poem Jason and Medeia (which I can remember from when it came out -- that dates me!), transliterated the name of Iokasta's son as Oidipos, or something like that. (Going to Perseus and checking the Greek, I see that they have "Oidipous.") How is that pronounced?

4:07 AM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

Oidipos, to my eye, is reasonable. Oidipous looks wrong. Go figure.

11:47 AM  
Blogger Gregory Feeley said...

Yeah, "Oidipous" sounds like an adjective, probably describing some nasty deposit that makes you jiggle where you can't see.

5:10 PM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

Got it in one, Greg.

10:38 PM  
Blogger Derryl Murphy said...

Oidipous looks fine to those of us who grew up with British conventions: neighbour, labour, humour, etc.

Have you seen this site, Greg?

I suspect it might be more use to me than some of you: I'll be digging around there over the next little while.

And finally, an ancient Greek walks into a tailor's shop. "Euripedes?" he's asked. "Yeah. Eumenides?"


4:24 PM  
Blogger language said...

Transliterating phi as f is a bad idea, because it didn't start to be pronounced as f until Hellenistic times (and the change wasn't complete until Byzantine times). In Classical Greek phi was pronounced as aspirated p (p+h, which is why the Romans used that spelling for it), just as theta was t+h and khi was k+h. Of course, we tend to use the fricative pronunciation because it's a lot easier for us, but that's not how the Greeks said it, so if you want an authentic spelling you'll stick with ph.

--language hat

5:28 PM  
Blogger Gregory Feeley said...

I am working my way through Introduction to Attic Greek, and see what LanguageHat means about phi and "f." Sorry I haven't been here recently.

Murph, thanks for the URL. (You're Derryl, right?) I am going to try to make a post or two here the next few days, and be better about keeping up with this blog hereafter. (I'll spare you a lengthy description of the last week, which basically involved the harmonic convergence of every spring musical, piano recital, steel drum band concert, school field trip and soccer playoff that my kids had. My parents were in town, too.)

4:24 AM  
Blogger Derryl Murphy said...

Yup, Murph=Derryl. An old habit from my first days on the web. That, plus there are plenty of folks who call me Murph instead of Derryl (plus a solid handful who call me D - I'm a multiple personality type of guy).


9:16 AM  
Blogger Adi said...

Get the lates information of Electronics Gadgets Tech gadgets Cool Gadgets New Gadgets Best Gadgets Latest Gadgets Cool New Gadgets</a

4:28 PM  
Blogger Adi said...

Oes Tsetnoc one of the ways in which we can learn seo besides Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa. By participating in the Oes Tsetnoc or Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa we can improve our seo skills. To find more information about Oest Tsetnoc please visit my Oes Tsetnoc pages. And to find more information about Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa please visit my Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa pages. Thank you So much.
Oes Tsetnoc | Semangat Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa

7:22 PM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

tiffany and co, louis vuitton outlet, louis vuitton outlet, oakley sunglasses cheap, louboutin, cheap uggs, burberry outlet, michael kors outlet, louis vuitton outlet stores, ugg boots clearance, polo ralph lauren outlet, louis vuitton handbags, air max, jordan shoes, nike shoes, uggs, longchamp outlet, ugg outlet, prada outlet, ray ban sunglasses, michael kors outlet, uggs outlet, louboutin shoes, oakley sunglasses, louboutin outlet, rolex watches, michael kors outlet, louis vuitton, ray ban sunglasses, burberry outlet, longchamp handbags, polo ralph lauren, oakley sunglasses, prada handbags, longchamp handbags, nike free, christian louboutin, tiffany and co, air max, michael kors outlet, michael kors outlet online sale, tory burch outlet, replica watches, gucci outlet, michael kors outlet

5:36 PM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

true religion jeans, polo lacoste, vanessa bruno, hogan outlet, sac longchamp pas cher, michael kors uk, new balance pas cher, air max pas cher, north face, coach outlet, vans pas cher, coach outlet store online, oakley pas cher, longchamp, nike tn, louboutin, nike roshe run pas cher, ray ban sunglasses, coach purses, kate spade outlet, chanel handbags, true religion outlet, sac burberry, true religion outlet, michael kors, mulberry, nike blazer, true religion jeans, hollister, michael kors pas cher, timberland, coach factory outlet, air max, hollister, air jordan, polo ralph lauren, sac guess, ray ban pas cher, nike air force, kate spade handbags, converse pas cher, north face, nike free pas cher, sac hermes, lululemon outlet online

5:40 PM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

juicy couture, pandora charms, ugg, wedding dresses, michael kors handbags, pandora charms, ugg, ralph lauren, abercrombie, louboutin, louis vuitton, thomas sabo, juicy couture outlet, montre homme, swarovski crystal, vans, hollister, louis vuitton uk, pandora jewelry, karen millen, sac louis vuitton, oakley, michael kors outlet, rolex watches, ray ban, swarovski, sac lancel, coach outlet store online, ugg boots, links of london, ugg, marc jacobs, ugg pas cher, air max, converse, doke gabbana, supra shoes, toms shoes, gucci, michael kors outlet online, converse shoes, louis vuitton, sac louis vuitton

5:43 PM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

soccer shoes, timberland boots, hollister clothing store, nike trainers, mac cosmetics, valentino shoes, nike roshe, abercrombie and fitch, jimmy choo outlet, air max, abercrombie and fitch, air max, asics running shoes, nike air max, babyliss pro, lululemon outlet, longchamp, soccer jerseys, reebok outlet, bottega veneta, wedding dresses, chi flat iron, ferragamo shoes, new balance shoes, birkin bag, mcm handbags, iphone cases, p90x, north face outlet, vans shoes, hollister, nike huaraches, beats by dre, nike roshe run, mont blanc, insanity workout, giuseppe zanotti, herve leger, celine handbags, ralph lauren, ghd, baseball bats, instyler, nike free, north face jackets, nfl jerseys

5:45 PM  
Blogger Zheng junxai5 said...

fitflop shoes
nike roshe run mens
marc jacobs outlet
rolex watches
coach outlet
coach outlet canada
coach factory outlet online
nike outlet
oakley outlet
montblanc pens
air jordan homme
oakley sunglasses wholesale
concords 11
coach outlet online
cheap louis vuitton handbags
mont blanc pen
louis vuitton outlet stores
gucci handbags
nfl jerseys
nike roshe one
nike roshe run
oakley outlet
kobe shoes 11
ray ban sunglasses
ralph lauren
michael kors outlet online
michael kors outlet
supra for sale
cheap toms
kate spade handbags
gucci bags
replica rolex watches
oakley vault
air jordan 4
coach outlet online
vans sneakers
air jordan 8
asics shoes for men
nike air max
true religion jeans

7:11 PM  
Anonymous Cara Menurunkan Kadar Leukosit Tinggi said...

Thank you for presenting information of interest .. wooow outstanding

Cara Mengobati Sakit Ulu Hati
Obat Kurap Paling Mujarab
Cara Mengobati Masalah Telinga
Pengobatan Pneumonia Secara Efektif
Pengobatan Miom Tanpa Operasi
Obat Alternatif Sakit Kepala Menahun

7:28 PM  
Anonymous Obat Herbal Luka Gangren said...

Thank you for sharing an interesting and very useful article. And let me share an article about health here I believe this is useful. Thank you :)

Pengobatan Polip di Usus tanpa Operasi
Cara Mengobati Penebalan Dinding Rahim
Obat Herbal Batuk tak Kunjung Sembuh
Cara Mengobati Angina Pektoris (angin duduk)
Obat Luka Koreng Menahun
Obat Alami Katarak tanpa Operasi

5:43 PM  
Blogger Christian said...

Good information. i like this srticle. This is the best blog.. Good luck..!!
cara menyembhkan eksim kering | secara alami sampai tuntas |
cara menyembhkan cacar air | 100% paling ampuh |
cara mengobati sering mimisan | secara alami sampai tuntas
Cara Mengatasi Luka Pasca Operasi Caesar |

12:08 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home