[B-Greek] Accents & Breathing Marks in Codex Sinaiticus and Beatty & Bodmer Papyrii? (was Re: In defense of "Orthography")

Sarah Madden sarah.r.madden at gmail.com
Fri Jan 8 05:26:16 EST 2010


Leonard  wrote:
"Isn't that how it is in the papyri like the Beatty and Bodmer papyri,
or codex Sinaiticus have it, is with the breathing marks and accents?

These marks are handy for distinguishing between various words, it
helps me.   We rely  upon the work of those in antiquity who have
handed down to us the classical and Biblical texts(and the papyri in
Egypt too:)   )"

I agree with Leonard that such marks are mighty handy for reading purposes
-- HOWEVER, I hate to deflate his argument, but I can't find such marks in
Codex Sinaiticus or the papyrii.

Sinaiticus is a 4th century uncial -- written on animal skin, all caps, no
breathing marks -- not even spaces between the words. The Bodmer and Beatty
papyrii are also all caps, no breathing marks, no spaces -- but they were
written on papyrus. The breathing marks, accents, and spaces came later ...
as did the addition of lowercase letters (aka miniscules).

If you ever get a chance to see actual leaves from Sinaiticus and/or
examples of ancient papyrii (as I did recently at a Smithsonian exhibit),
you will appreciate how hard it is for modern people to read directly from
these manuscripts -- for various reasons including the scribes' handwriting
styles, ink that might have flicked off the page, etc. I, for one, like the
spaces between words, the accents, the breathing marks (and, yes, the smooth
breathing mark, my "award" notwithstanding). It's also fun to see if you can
actually read and understand such texts ...

Sarah (aka Hawkeye Pierce) ><>
Maryland USA

On Thu, Jan 7, 2010 at 8:11 AM, Leonard Isaksson <
leonardo1orchardcity at mac.com> wrote:

> Isn't that how it is in the papyri like the Beatty and Bodmer papyri,
> or codex Sinaiticus have it, is with the breathing marks and accents?
>
> These marks are handy for distinguishing between various words, it
> helps me.   We rely  upon the work of those in antiquity who have
> handed down to us the classical and Biblical texts(and the papyri in
> Egypt too:)   )
>
> Leonard Isaksson
>
>
> On Jan 6, 2010, at 9:05 PM, Mark Lightman wrote:
>
> > Hi, Carl,
> >
> > Getting rid of just the smooth breathing and
> > getting rid of breathing marks
> > altogether and getting rid of diacritical marks
> > altogether and getting rid of
> > all orthographic conventions are four different things.
> > All but the first of these would make Greek
> > harder to learn and I could never be in
> > favor of that.
> >
> > But getting rid of just of just the smooth breathing has no downside
> > (unless you are an engineer or a computer programmer,
> > I guess) and would undoubtedly
> > make Greek EASIER to learn.  Imagine telling new
> > students that the rough
> > breathing is basically an "H," and leaving it at that.  I maintain that
> > even for advanced students, having to check, even if on a subconscious
> > level, every vowel for the breathing marks uses up a good deal of
> > precious
> > mental energy that is needed to read a very difficult language.  Plus
> > don't
> > forget the point that on many texts you can't even tell if a breathing
> > IS
> > rough or smooth.
> >
> > To get rid of all, or most, orthographic conventions would be very
> > difficult and is unlikely to happen.  But all it would take to kill
> > the smooth breathing for ever is for one publisher to write a
> > grammar or a text with no smooth breathings.  Everyone would
> > see how much easier it is to read and that would be the end of
> > it.  It was only after Sarah won her award that I noticed that
> > Paula Saffire actually made the same argument on page 4 of
> > her Ancient Greek Alive:  "It would be best if modern editors
> > dispensed with the non-h sign altogether, as an eye-saving
> > measure...Future editors take note!"
> >
> > On the Dialogos list we e-mail each other in Koine.  At first
> > most of us used breathings and accents, but in time, most
> > of us gave them up.  It takes too much time to put them in,
> > and while many things make our beginning Greek tough
> > to understand, a lack of diacritical marks is not among them.
> > Buth does not use them in casual writing.  What we do, though, it
> > to occasionally stick in an accent or a breathing to help
> > distinguish words from words.  But here is what has
> > surprised me.  While it is obviously much easier to write
> > without the marks, I think it may be easier to READ as
> > well.  I think you read the words faster, not slowed down
> > by the breathings and accents.  I am actually not entirely
> > convinced now that getting rid of all diacritical marks might
> > not be easier for students in the long run.  Not convinced
> > either way, so, for now, I add my voice in defense of most Greek
> > orthography.
> >
> > But, I'm sorry, but keeping the smooth breathing makes about
> > as much sense to me as giving a Nobel Prize to a guy who
> > was only on the job for a few...wait, strike that.  That belongs
> > on a different Year End Awards list.
> >
> > Mark L
> >
> >
> > FWSFOROS MARKOS
> >
> > --- On Wed, 1/6/10, Carl Conrad <cwconrad2 at mac.com> wrote:
> >
> >
> > From: Carl Conrad <cwconrad2 at mac.com>
> > Subject: [B-Greek] In defense of "Orthography" (was: "Excluded Middle
> > (was 'B-Greek Year End Awards')"
> > To: owl at postmaster.co.uk
> > Cc: b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org, "John Sanders"
> > <john.franklin.sanders at gmail.com>
> > Date: Wednesday, January 6, 2010, 1:46 PM
> >
> >
> > A few months ago (Sun Jul 19 15:40:20 EDT 2009) I posted to this
> > list a message entitled, "Absurdity of Koine Greek accents" and asked,
> > "why are we saddled with this polytonic accentual system? Tertullian
> > was talking about his faith, but the reason he gave is the only one we
> > can give for our persistence in learning and teaching and writing
> > these accents on our transcripts of Koine Greek texts: QUIA ABSURDUM
> > EST -- because it makes no sense at all. Look at the papyri and the
> > Greek texts there: you won't find any accents at all."
> >
> > The response was clear and loud: we have no alternative but to
> > preserve the traditional orthography. Or, preserving the traditional
> > orthography is more useful than an effort to abolish it would be.
> > I concur with that. I also think this applies to the breathing marks.
> > They certainly could be done away with for Koine Greek texts of
> > the era when we know aspiration was not pronounced. On the other
> > hand, I guess I could learn to discern by context when an O is the
> > article and when it is a neuter singular relative pronoun. So also
> > I could learn to discern by context when EIS and EN are masculine
> > and neuter numerals and when they are prepositions -- but it is
> > convenient to have them spelled with differentiation, just as it
> > is convenient to have the English homonyms "to," "too," and "two"
> > differentiated orthographically -- although ... , although ...
> > teenagers texting messages seem to have no difficulty understanding
> > "2" to indicate the right one of those words in context.
> >
> > There was a review in the NY Times of January 1 of a new book
> > by Jack Lynch, entitled _THE LEXICOGRAPHER’S DILEMMA
> > The Evolution of ‘Proper’ English, From Shakespeare to ‘South Park’__.
> > The review was titled, "This Is English, Rules Are Optional."
> >
> > http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/01/books/01book.html?ref=books
> >
> > Judging from the review (and the first chapter is accessible from
> > the review) it's a worthwhile read. It brings home what we all know
> > but don't often acknowledge, that "orthography" or "correct spelling"
> > is a convention that is helpful insofar as it conforms what we read to
> > patterns to which we are accustomed and limits the amount of guessing
> > we have to do at what the author intended to say; on the other hand,
> > it is a convention that is a hindrance to the extent that the
> > conventional
> > spelling -- including the diacriticals -- have ceased to represent the
> > way words are actually pronounced in current usage. Part of our
> > difficulty -- and the source of much of the futile disputation of
> > B-Greek -- has to do with our confusion over and disagreements
> > about how Greek was pronounced in the NT era and how it should
> > be pronounced by today's students of NT Greek.
> >
> > If I should ask the question, what would happen if we just simply
> > dispensed with our conventions of ancient Greek orthography
> > (including accents, breathing marks, initial-medial and final sigmas,
> > upper-case and lower-case letters, etc. Suppose that we, like those
> > writing on ancient papyri, should make no distinction between
> > writing QAILO or QELW, between TH and TI, between
> > TWN and TON? My guess is that it would be considerably more
> > difficult for new learners to gain any degree of competence in
> > ancient Greek than it already is now.
> >
> > All of which is to underscore the obvious, which applies to
> > the breathing marks as it does to spelling the vowels and diphthongs
> > and placing the accents: Spelling is a CONVENTION, one that
> > like other conventions, can be, at different times, a help or a
> > hindrance.
> >
> > Carl W. Conrad
> > Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
> >
> > On Jan 6, 2010, at 11:54 AM, John Owlett wrote:
> >> One of the slightly mindbending things you have to learn in the
> >> early stages of logic is that something's being untrue does not
> >> make it false.
> >>
> >> There are many cases where a two-valued logic (true/false,
> >> black/white, zero/one, or whatever) is adequate.
> >>
> >> There are also many cases where a three-valued logic is necessary.
> >> John's engineering list case (is/not is/not assigned) is a good
> >> example.  Others include (black/white/grey) and the lawyers'
> >> (proved to be true/proved to be false/not proven).
> >>
> >> And, life being what it is, there are many-valued logics, where
> >> even three values are not enough.
> >>
> >> A two-valued logic, with no shades of grey, is said to have an
> >> "excluded middle".
> >>
> >> Do we need a middle breathing?
> >>
> >> If you're writing Greek for someone to read, I would say No.
> >> The reader either aspirates the start of the word or doesn't.
> >>
> >> So I think that Hawkeye can keep her award.
> >>
> >> If you're writing a Greek minuscule for a future generation
> >> of textual critics, then it could be helpful to show that you
> >> have clearly decided not to aspirate.
> >>
> >> But who wants to help textual critics?  :-)
> >>
> >> Later,
> >>
> >> Dr Owl
> >>
> >> ----------------------------
> >> John Owlett, Southampton, UK
> >>
> >> Yesterday, John Sanders wrote:
> >>
> >>> In reference to THE HAWKEYE PIERCE AWARD FOR THE
> >>> ORTHOGRAPHIC REFORM LEAST LIKELY TO
> >>> TAKE PLACE BECAUSE IT MAKES TOO MUCH SENSE:
> >>>
> >>> Sarah Madden, for suggesting that we retain rough breathings
> >>> but get rid of smooth readings.
> >>>
> >>> If I may, I would like to come to the support of Aristophanes
> >>> of Byzantium.  I fear many may not understand the significance
> >>> of using two symbols for the aspirate (one for smooth breathing
> >>> and one for rough breathing).  At one time, many years ago, I
> >>> also thought along similar lines as they who wish to eliminate
> >>> the redundant symbol, but my work requirements changed that
> >>> for me.
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > ---
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> >
> >
> >
> >
> > ---
> > B-Greek home page: http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek
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>
> ---
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-- 
Sarah ><>
sarah.r.madden at gmail.com
work: 301.429.8189



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