Accents and other synthetic markings

Discussion of Greek texts that do not fall into the other categories, including texts in other dialects or texts from other periods.
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Accents and other synthetic markings

Postby Alan Patterson » October 21st, 2012, 1:00 pm

I just read a concern that a poster did not use accents when cut and pasting the text under consideration. I disagreed with those who mentioned it.

What can happen with regard to the use of accents, punctuation, and anything beyond the letters of the text, is to forget that these synthetic marks can often result in having the reader rely on them, such that they become part of the word. For those who read the early texts, these marks will become an obstacle to reading, as well as (an obstacle to) making the reader grapple with the wording of the text, if you ask me. Accents and etc. move us away from the early text, and I really can't see a benefit in that. No, I'm not advocating having us read all CAPS glued together, although some purists may prefer that. The accents move on to the interpretation of the text, which again provides no benefit; it creates a hybrid of text and interpretation, which is not what a 'text' should be. I have been reading the CAPS for quite some time and I'm not at all an advocate of that, but the CAPS reduced to lower case is still a problem. Now, one may ask, isn't separating the letters into words interpretive? Yes, of course it is. What's the solution? Return to all CAPS in RUN ON WORDS? Hardly. But whatever is chosen, move the least one can from the early text. Critical marks are not necessary.
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Re: Accents and other synthetic markings

Postby Stephen Carlson » October 21st, 2012, 1:57 pm

The earliest manuscripts lacked accents, spacing, and punctuation, though the bulk of NT manuscripts in the Byzantine era included them. Accents are a Greek phenomenon devised by Greeks for Greeks.

If you're a paleographer, a papyrologist, or a textual critic, of course, one has to be able to read the surviving material as it was written. But for our reading the text, we have to make many changes. The medium is different. The inks are different. The spelling rules are different. The word spacing is different. The punctuation is different. There are lots of differences.

Furthermore, the OP argues that word spacing is more important than accents? Why?

Which is the most important for internalizing Greek? Well, accents move you closer to the language. They indicate how the Greek sounded. On the hand, the word spacing and Western-style punctuation move you farther from the language because they don't respect the natural prosody of the language. So, if one wants to be closer to the language, one should prefer the accents over the word spacing and punctuation.

If one wants to be closer to the (original) text, one should be willing to dispense with all modern and medieval reading aids.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala
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Re: Accents and other synthetic markings

Postby Alan Patterson » October 22nd, 2012, 7:29 am

The earliest manuscripts lacked accents, spacing, and punctuation, though the bulk of NT manuscripts in the Byzantine era included them. Accents are a Greek phenomenon devised by Greeks for Greeks.

If you're a paleographer, a papyrologist, or a textual critic, of course, one has to be able to read the surviving material as it was written. But for our reading the text, we have to make many changes. The medium is different. The inks are different. The spelling rules are different. The word spacing is different. The punctuation is different. There are lots of differences.

Furthermore, the OP argues that word spacing is more important than accents? Why?

Which is the most important for internalizing Greek? Well, accents move you closer to the language. They indicate how the Greek sounded. On the hand, the word spacing and Western-style punctuation move you farther from the language because they don't respect the natural prosody of the language. So, if one wants to be closer to the language, one should prefer the accents over the word spacing and punctuation.

If one wants to be closer to the (original) text, one should be willing to dispense with all modern and medieval reading aids.


Concerning...

If you're a paleographer, a papyrologist, or a textual critic, of course, one has to be able to read the surviving material as it was written.

I agree.

Concerning...

Well, accents move you closer to the language.

I would argue the polar opposite of this, using intuitive propositions. Yes, around the year AD 1,000 we have been provided with the 10th century pronunciation of Greek. The idea that because someone is Greek, they have some kind of inside information... 10 centuries later! There is no different between an English scholar and a Greek scholar (cf. Con Campbell)

Finally, concerning...

If one wants to be closer to the (original) text, one should be willing to dispense with all modern and medieval reading aids.


This is my very conclusion. Remember I said we need to make the cultural change from CAPSALLBLENDEDTOGETHER to spacing and lower case. That's as far as I would go, since I want to preserve as much of the earlier text as possible.
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