[b-hebrew] Hebrew with Aramaic, Phoenician etc in scholarly publications

Trevor Peterson 06PETERSON at cua.edu
Wed Jul 16 10:40:55 EDT 2003

>===== Original Message From "Ken Penner" <pennerkm at mcmaster.ca> =====
>As for Israeli scholars, Kutscher's _The Language and
>Linguistic Background of the Isaiah Scroll_ even transcribes Syriac and
>Ugaritic and some Arabic (as well as Phoenician, Samaritan, Lachish,
>Elephantine, Palmyrene, Mandean, Gaonic) into "Hebrew" script, although
>El-Amarna words is transcribed into Latin characters, and Arabic words may
>be also be in Arabic script or transliteration.

One issue that may need to be raised with regard to scholarly practice is the 
definition of "current." I have in mind here the distinction between 
Sokoloff's DJPA and DJBA, the first of which transcribed Syriac, while the 
second did not. The difference is that in the interim computer setting 
replaced lead type and nullified cost as a significant determining factor. Now 
that the expense of producing typefaces that will only be used occasionally is 
negligible, scholarship is free to set its own preferences. The problem is 
that it may not have been in such a situation long enough to get an accurate 
sense of where it will go.

Peter, you and I have been through this issue before (on this list, I 
believe). I'm personally inclined to agree with Sokoloff that producing Syriac 
script is desirable in an Aramaic lexicon, if not also in a Hebrew one. But 
I'm not sure that the editors of HALOT, for instance, share this sentiment. 
They transcribe comparative evidence everywhere in Latin except where square 
script is appropriate. Perhaps it was ony because of the lead type issue, but 
I suspect that it was also the desire to make the material *appear* less 
opaque to those untrained in these languages. This desire will probably remain 
a factor in publishing, regardless of where technology goes. Fortunately for 
this discussion, Syriac and Arabic are already established in Unicode. I would 
not generally advocate the use of script fonts for epigraphic material, but I 
consider manuscript traditions another matter.

Trevor Peterson

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