On the Viability of Transliteration

Transliteration is the practice of transfering the letters of a word from one written language to another. The purpose of transliteration involves giving readers access to a language they are not familiar with. Though, whether or not this actually happens or is helpful is up for debate.

In Greek, something like, Ευαγγέλιο, would become something like "Euaggelio".

In Hebrew, it looks something like this:

I call it "second Greek," and "second Hebrew," as it has its own set of rules that must be learned in order to read it.

In a recent book review, Dr. Jim Hamilton has articulated my personal feelings toward transliteration:

All transliteration of Greek and Hebrew in these volumes should be abandoned.

Transliteration hinders those who know the languages, and it does not give understanding to those who don’t. While it may help those who have not studied Greek and Hebrew feel more comfortable, how many people know what sounds are signified by the superscripted e’s or the backwards apostrophe? And even if they can sound out the word, sort of, they still don’t know what it means.

Down with transliteration!

Hearty Amens.
July 7, 2008


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