[b-hebrew] Hebrew transliteration

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Wed Jan 21 07:23:39 EST 2004

On 21/01/2004 03:49, Trevor Peterson wrote:

>>===== Original Message From Peter Kirk <peterkirk at qaya.org> =====
>>Trevor, now it is you confusing different things. I might think that in
>>a particular work for a particular audience it is better to
>>transliterate. But such things should be the editors' decision. They
>>should not be forced to transliterate because technology does not
>>support mixed scripts. If they are, computer technology is taking us
>>backwards from the multi-script support which worked in the hot metal
>>era e.g. in BDB.
>I don't recall indicating otherwise.
Let me remind you. You wrote:

>True, an organization like SIL might work in several different languages and want a coherent system of writing all of them; but Semitists have got along for quite some time now without such devices. Their needs have not changed dramatically in recent years, either.
But if you are going to produce a multi-script dictionary like BDB, but 
with computer technology rather than hot metal, you need a coherent 
system for writing each of those scripts. If Semitists have got on 
without such devices, it is only because they have not tried to 
reproduce BDB with computer technology but have allowed their 
publications to be less multi-script than they used to be.

It would be interesting to speculate whether limitations of computer 
(and, earlier, typewriter) technology have driven the general 20th 
century move to use more transliteration. But I can name at least one 
work in which Hebrew was transliterated rather than written in script 
because of computer technology limitations (of 15 years ago): my MA 
dissertation from London Bible College, in which I was able to use Greek 
script but was forced to transliterate the few Hebrew words I used.

If the editors of a new Hebrew dictionary etc today try to use multiple 
scripts, they will find that they need a technology like Unicode, or 
TeX, which supports multiple scripts. (I know this from experience, as 
one of the editorial team of such a dictionary, although I think we are 
only using Hebrew and Greek as well as Latin, plus perhaps some Cyrillic 
for translation examples.) They are in the same position as SIL. (Much 
of our editorial team is SIL, but that's another matter.)

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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