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Alphabet: Transliteration

Read an article about Transliteration at Wikipedia

Transliteration is a term that refers to the rewriting of one script using another script, usually an alphabet. Because the number of alphabetic characters can vary from script to script, transliteration is not always exact. This is especially the case when something is being transliterated into the Roman alphabet which we use in English, since the number of characters in the Roman alphabet is quite limited and we normally do not use diacritics or other special markers to extend the range of our alphabet.

Transliterating from Greek into the English alphabet. There are some letters in Greek that do not have obvious equivalents in the English alphabet, such as the aspirated consonants, the long vowels eta and omega, etc. As a result, why you will often see an ancient Greek place name or personal name written in different ways in English. This situation is further complicated by the influence of the ancient Roman traditions of transliterating the Greek names into Latin! For example, the Roman language did not use the letter "k" although it is definitely part of the English alphabet. As a result, there is a strong tradition of writing Greek names with the letter "c" instead of the letter "k" - resulting in a city name "Corinth" instead of "Korinth," for example.

Beta Code transliteration. The easiest and most reliable transliteration system for Greek is the Beta Code system. This is not a system that is commonly used for writing out Greek in normal English, but for purposes of scientific work, especially working with Greek in a computer-based environment, Beta Code is the best solution. You will need to learn Beta Code transliteration as part of this class.

Transliterating from Hebrew and Latin into Greek.Another way in which you will observe the difficulties of transliteration is by watching how the Greek editors of the Bible struggled with representing Hebrew names and Latin names in Greek! The Hebrew names, in particular, are very troublesome. Hebrew has some letters which are not represented in the Greek alphabet, and it also has some letters not represented in the Roman alphabet. As a result, it is not easy to represent Hebrew names in either Greek or Latin or English! You may sometimes be surprised by the Greek forms of the Hebrew names that you are familiar with in their traditional spellings in the English Bible.

Biblical Greek Online. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one. Page last updated: April 9, 2005 8:06 PM

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