The transliteration of Greek proper names (David Connolly)

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The transliteration of Greek proper names
(David Connolly)

Abstract

This article has as its starting point the observation that there would seem to be no consistency or useful consensus of opinion concerning the transliteration of Greek proper names into English. The failure on the part of translators and scholars to conform to existing conversion systems and the inadequacies of the conversion systems themselves has serious consequences in many areas of translation and modern Greek studies, ranging from the transliteration of names in anthologies, bibliographies and novels, to library cataloguing systems and, not least, legal and commercial documents. Although several conversion systems, based primarily on the corresponding phonetic values of the Greek and Latin characters, are available to the translator and scholar, none of these can account for the various additional factors involved in the transliteration of Greek proper names. These include such things as historical and established usage, the graphic shape of the name, resemblance to the corresponding foreign name and, of course, personal preference. In this article I will present some of the problems and discuss the factors involved.

Introduction
According to Hervey and Higgins (1992: 29), transliteration takes place when “… conversional conventions are used to alter the phonic/graphic shape of a S[ource]T[ext] name so that it comes more into line with T[arget]L[anguage] patterns of pronunciation and spelling”. In the case of Greek, this also involves converting names written not only in another language, but also in another alphabet. The lack of a commonly accepted conversion scheme for transliterating Greek names and Greek words in general using Latin characters has led various organisations to develop their own schemes (in different countries and also within the same country), which are usually incompatible and not reversible. Within Greece, the conversion scheme proposed by the Greek Standards Organisation (ΕΛΟΤ 743), describes “a non-reversible method of transliterating the Greek alphabet using Latin characters” and is intended for use in the following instances: in the writing of place names on maps and street signs using Latin characters;  in  the  transliteration  using  Latin  characters  of  identity  card information, that is, in the transliteration of names, surnames, father’s name, mother’s name, husband’s name, maiden names and places of birth; and, thirdly,in the transliteration using Latin characters of the commercial names of legal entities.

Apart from ΕΛΟΤ 743, other conversion schemes include the International Standards Organisation Scheme ISO 843 (which is also the British Standard BS 2979), the Library of Congress Scheme, the Libraries at Oxford University Scheme and BL 75, which is an old scheme used by the British Library. And to these must be added the style sheets proposed by academic journals such as Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies and the Journal of Modern Greek Studies and variously used by Greek scholars. The fact that there are several Greek-Latin conversion systems in operation is in itself not desirable and leads to inconsistencies. These inconsistencies multiply when dealing with proper names and place names. In this article, I shall be dealing solely with proper names and with examples taken mainly from the field of Greek literature and with reference to the ΕΛΟΤ 743 conversion scheme, and I shall refer to a number of important factors involved in the transliteration of Greek proper names that are not taken into account by the various conversion schemes.


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See also:

Μεταγραφή ονομάτων
Μεταγραφή ξενικών κυρίων ονομάτων προσωπωνυμιών και τοπωνυμιών
Γιάννης Η. Χάρης: 7. Στο κενό ο Κενώ και κιτς ο Κητς;
« Last Edit: 17 Nov, 2014, 10:31:00 by spiros »


 

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