Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sherwood on Hebrew Transliteration

Every now and then you read something that just makes you go "yuss!"

"I have also used Hebrew as sparingly as possible, but where I have, I have given the Hebrew script and a very rough English transliteration, rather than the conventional transliteration code, because this has always struck me as a highly cryptic sub-language which manages to be both more difficult to read than Hebrew for the Hebrew-reader and, at the same time, about as indecipherable as Hebrew to the non-specialist."

Yvonne Sherwood, 
A Biblical Text and Its Afterlives: The Survival of Jonah in Western Culture, 
CUP, 2000, pp7-8.

I'd say the same, perhaps to a lesser extent about Greek transliteration. I assume the practice began, not for non-specialist readers, but because of the limits of typewriters/typesetting back in the day? I could of course be dead wrong about that. But either way, it is a terrible thing. I have enough trouble learning Greek and Hebrew without having to learn a "highly cryptic sub-language" as well!
 

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