b-h transcription(was Jeremiah 23:2)

Bryan Rocine 596547 at ican.net
Sun Sep 13 16:33:24 EDT 1998

Dear Jonathan,

Sadly, we as a list are asked this question quite often and can give no
more of a definitive answer than the varied response that you have
received, about as varied as the transcription schemes that are used by
different folks on the list.  For instance, I find the "alphabet" to which
Paul Zellmer refers you, the Michigan-Claremont-Westminster
machine-readable Hebrew Bible alphabet, unwieldy and grotesquely unnatural.
 I like Ben Crick's scheme when I see it, but I haven't learned it, so I
don't use it.   The transcription scheme seen most in scholarly literature
in Hebrew studies is I.P.A.-based, but I don't know how to reproduce some
of the symbols in e-mail.  What would we have to do?  Transmit our e-mail
in another format?  So I transcribe by the seat of my pants--using near
equivalents in the regular English alphabet plus a couple of the MCW
symbols Paul has shown you when they seem helpful such as the shin, aleph,
ayin, and tet symbols.  I transcribe vowels *very* roughly.  I don't mind
the roughness of the transcription, either in my own posts(heh, now, that's
generous of me!) or those of others because we all have our Hebrew Bibles
for reference and this is, after all, a relatively informal e-mail forum. 
When an exact spelling is critical due to the nature of the post, I think
most of us will actually write out the orthographic sequence in words, e.g.
vav-patakh-dageshed yod-patakh-koph-shewa for Hiphil wayyiqtol 3rd m. s. of
the root _nkh_.

One of the crazy things about the field of Hebrew studies is how a variety
of academic traditions is attested.  We not only disagree about the meaning
of the verb forms, we also disagree on what to call the verb forms, what to
call the stems, and even on such micro-matters as how to pronounce the
letters and even the names of the letters.  Is it a vav or a waw?  A yod or
a yud?  A tet or a teth?  A variety of transcriptions is, perhaps
humorously, par for the course!  :-)

Thankfully, there's still a ton of material on which we agree, and the
different traditions generally enhance one another.  BTW, I wholeheartedly
amen Al Silberman's recent appraisal of Gesenius' grammar as one of the
handiest and most comprehensive.

I would like to hear what list members think we might do about our variety
of transcription methods.  Do you think we're doing alright with the
variety of methods?

> From: Jonathan Robie <jonathan at texcel.no>
> Date: Saturday, September 12, 1998 8:32 PM
> Is there a document that explains the transcription scheme for B-Hebrew? 
> Jonathan

B. M. Rocine
Associate Pastor
Living Word Church
6101 Court St. Rd.
Syracuse, NY 13208


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