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Transliteration filter


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#1 luoar

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 01:19 AM

One thing I find frustrating having learned the biblical languages is when I come across a commentary which uses a transliteration scheme. I understand that transliteration is helpful for people who have not learned the languages, but I am sure many of those who have learned them would agree that they would prefer to see the Greek or Hebrew text. Why not develop a filter that gives one a choice? So one could conceivably read a Bible Commentary which has all Greek and Hebrew transliterated with original Greek and Hebrew fonts instead. This would be a superb feature as far as I am concerned.

rari.



#2 nicklaurence

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 05:06 PM

I'd love this too. Though a bit of a niche market, I fear.



#3 JonathanHuber

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 05:54 PM

I do not understand the value of transliteration. People who know the language want to see the original script, as Rari said. On the other hand, people who don't know the language can't really use the transliteration anyway (I only studied Hebrew for a few months, and the transliteration baffles me as much as the original script). So who benefits? If there was a way to create this filter, I would definitely use it.


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#4 Abram K-J

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 07:57 PM

Agreed. This probably constitutes a lot of work on Accordance's part that commentary publishers may not be willing to do, but it would be a good selling point for a given commentary. I'd find it useful.


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#5 Timothy Jenney

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 08:41 PM

The original reason for transliterations was that typesetting for original languages is very expensive. It requires a dedicated typeset (or several) for each language, plus a typesetter capable of reading and proofing the language. Transliteration used a single one font for all languages and was based largely on the characters in the Roman alphabet. It could  be read and proofed by non-specialists. It was also easy to see the phonetic similarities among languages with entirely different character sets.

 

Initially, computers had the same issues, as they all used daisywheels--or something similar for their printing. Apple offered the first machine with bit-mapped fonts and a low-cost dot-matrix printer. Biblical scholars (like me) bought Macs in droves. [This is also the reason why so many scholars in the field today use Macs—and Accordance was written for a Mac.] Laser printers  would come later, but printing traditions often lag well behind technology.

 

What we are left with today in print is a mishmash, a legacy of all the recent changes in printing in the last half century.

 

As Accordance does its best to faithfully represent the print editions in its electronic copies, this same mishmash is evidenced in our texts.


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#6 luoar

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 03:12 AM

I think transliteration schemes are an obstacle to learning the languages. The problem is that there are so many of them. When I first learned Hebrew using Lambdin's textbook (which I still think is the best one to use) I learned his transliteration scheme. Then I went on to Seow who uses a variation of Lambin. Then I worked my way through Gesenius, who in turn uses a different scheme, then I worked my way through Muraoka and again a different scheme. The Hebrew Forum uses a web based scheme which is itself quite different from the rest. I believe that there are currently 14 transliteration schemes for Hebrew. All this is so confusing and unnecessary and puts potentially good scholars off learning the language. I think it goes back to the notion that the language must be properly pronounced in order for someone to learn it. When I use commentaries, and when I see transliteration, particularly one that does not accord fully with one of the aforementioned 5 schemes which I have learned, I feel a sense of frustration.

 

rari



#7 Ken Simpson

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 04:19 AM

HI Rari,

while I am not sure I fully agree with the love of Lambdin, I completely agree with the annoyance of transliteration.


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#8 luoar

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 09:44 AM

I understand that Lambdin is not everyone's cup of tea. I however owe him a debt for giving me a thorough grounding in morphology. For that I will always be in his debt. What introductory grammar would you recommend Ken? 

 

rari



#9 Ken Simpson

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 08:08 PM

Hi Rari,

I do not claim to be any great authority on introductory grammars.

I used Pratico and Van Pelt in my early studies, which I found quite helpful. It has some good audio and visual resources with it. And the itunes flashcards from Michael Thigpen on PVP's vocab were gold!

I know people who have used Ross and really like it, but I haven't had a long look at it. It seems fairly good from a cursory examination.

My local seminary uses a home grown one by Athas and Young, which I found too late, but I really like. I think it is between printings at the moment.

 

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#10 luoar

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 09:39 AM

I would like to see Lambdin in Accordance. Though it is an introductory grammar, I find that I still refer to it. 


Edited by luoar, 06 February 2013 - 09:40 AM.


#11 A.D. Riddle

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 10:48 AM

For those of you who use HALOT, I bet you appreciate transliteration a lot more than you realize. All of the cognate information (Ugaritic, Akkadian, Moabite, Arabic, etc.) would be a complete mess to read if it were not all transliterated. It is not so easy to see the relationship between מלך and [Ugaritic unicode font required] and [Phoenician unicode font required], so it is helpful to transliterate: mlk, mlk, and mlk.

 

The best explanation I have found illustrating the value of transliteration is on p. 5 of John Huehnergard's introduction to Beyond Babel: A Handbook for Biblical Hebrew and Related Languages, ed. J. Kaltner and S. L. McKenzie (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2002). Here is a short paragraph:

 

"Both because of the inadequacies of native writing systems and because of their diversity, scholars find it useful to transliterate the various languages into a common system. This allows the details of the phonology and grammar of individual forms to be represented clearly, and it also greatly facilitates the comparison of forms across languages.
The linguistic similarity of Hebrew שָׁמָע Syriac ܫܡܰܥ Arabic سَمَع and Ethiopic ሰምዐ all meaning “he heard," is obviously much more transparent when those forms are transliterated, respectively, as šāmaʿ, smaʿ, samiʿa, and samʿa."

 

A.D.


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#12 luoar

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 11:34 AM

For the study of cognate languages transliteration is essential. I agree. 

 

rari



#13 Michael J. Bolesta

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 05:16 PM

I have followed this thread with interest.

 

I too prefer the Greek or Hebrew in their respective fonts to transliteration, but beside the technical issue of creating a "filter" (since there are numerous transliteration schemes), there may be copyright issues. Accordance may not be able to alter the text of the tool without permission.

 

I suppose they could "tag" the transliterated words so that Instant Details shows the word in its original language font. Given the amount of time involved (going through myriad tools containing transliterations), is it worthwhile for Accordance? Is the value added sufficient to divert finite resources away from the development of new materials?


Edited by Michael J. Bolesta, 06 February 2013 - 05:17 PM.

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Michael


#14 HansK

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 06:36 PM

If the original works have Hebrew/Greek letters, than Accordance should have these too. And they have.

But otherwise transliteration is fine.

 

For an expert like me I do not bother :-)

 

What is the point here? We are able to show many H/G Bible texts in Accordance with a few clicks. No problem at all.

 

So, problem dismissed! No problem at all...

 

Keep all smiling.

 

Hans






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