[B-Greek] Greek keyboards

Randall Buth randallbuth at gmail.com
Tue Sep 4 13:22:15 EDT 2007

On 9/4/07, Curtis Hinson <curtis at curtishinson.com> wrote:
> A resounding αμην (amen) to that.  It's pointless to invent new layouts
> when there's a perfectly good one built in that's an international
> standard, and works with polytonic.
> Of course the scholarly world would be just fine to move away from
> polytonic in all areas, as Greeks themselves have gotten along just fine
> without it for most of their history.

It is good to see agreement on the Greek typewriter keyboard.

Of course, this Greek typewriter base would not imply moving away from
polytonic writing. Several items arise.

1. Over the last thousand years, ancient texts have traditionally been
written polytonic. We cannot change that, it is a given. Our texts will
continue to be printed polytonic.

2. there is a functional difference between perispomenos and barytonos (
a.k.a. tonos on final syllable on a non-final word.) In fluent speech,
probably through much of the byzantine period at least, the barytonos would
not be sounded, that is it remains a low tone (unstressed). However,
perispomenos maintains its high-tone stress, in all contexts.
Example: one can hear a difference in TW~N OIKWN (GENIKH, PLHQUNTIKOS of the
houses) from TO`N OIKON (AITIATIKH, ENIKOS the house).
Thus:  tWn OIkwn versus ton OIkon (where capitals show tone/accent.

3. We've found that in  writing notes to one another that accents are
dispensible. that is only when both parties speak the words in the note. If
not, accents are necessary to reinforce correct pronunciation. So in this
limited context, e.g., Greek emails, I agree with Curtis. This is what the
ancients did, in any case. NB: texts for students should always be correctly

Historically, the tone/stress remained highly functional, especially in
light of the vowels collapsing from the 6 vowel early Byz system (3rd - 6th
cent. AD) into the 5-vowel modern system (between 5 - 10th centuries AD).
Today, modern Greeks are very sensitive to the stressed syllable and will
correct a foreigner who stresses the wrong syllable. It regualrly changes
the word into something else.

So I recommend keeping those PERISPOMENOI (circumflex) in student texts and
traditional texts.

Randall Buth
Randall Buth, PhD
χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη πληθυνθείη
שלום לכם וברכות
ybitan at mscc.huji.ac.il
randallbuth at gmail.com

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