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Old 07-20-2016, 10:09 PM   #1
AlexBell
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Help with accented Greek Alpha please

I've just started work on designing an ebook of Notre-Dame de Paris for the MobileRead library, and am having problems with a Greek word found in the preface, the table of contents, and a chapter heading. I've attached a screen clipping what I've done so far through HTML. But in the original the second Alpha has what one would call in a French word an acute accent. I can't find any HTML entity which could do this, though Α or & # 913; will produce a capital Alpha without an accent.

Is there a special term for a Greek capital Alpha with an acute accent? Does anyone know of a way to produce it in HTML?
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Old 07-20-2016, 10:27 PM   #2
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If you mean Ά, that would be a tonos or an oxia, depending on whether it's modern or ancient Greek*, the HTML entity you want has to be done as a Unicode one for tonos: Ά or for oxia: Ά.

It looks like the first alpha in the screenshot you provide also has one of the breathing marks, so maybe you also want Ἀ, which is Ἀ for "Greek Capital Letter A with Psili" or Ἁ Ἁ "With Dasia".

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_diacritics

ETA: this link on Computing with Accents, Symbols & Foreign Scripts might also be useful.

Last edited by ATDrake; 07-20-2016 at 10:35 PM. Reason: Realized it was the second alpha in the word that was supposed to have the accent.
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Old 07-21-2016, 03:36 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ATDrake View Post
If you mean Ά, that would be a tonos or an oxia, depending on whether it's modern or ancient Greek*, the HTML entity you want has to be done as a Unicode one for tonos: Ά or for oxia: Ά.

It looks like the first alpha in the screenshot you provide also has one of the breathing marks, so maybe you also want Ἀ, which is Ἀ for "Greek Capital Letter A with Psili" or Ἁ Ἁ "With Dasia".

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_diacritics

ETA: this link on Computing with Accents, Symbols & Foreign Scripts might also be useful.
Thanks for the advice and the references.

For the breathing mark I cheated and used a ’

For the accent I realised soon after I posted that a far simpler method would be to use Á

Neither method is elegant, but I don't think anyone will be able to tell the difference.
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Old 07-21-2016, 04:48 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexBell View Post
Thanks for the advice and the references.

For the breathing mark I cheated and used a ’

For the accent I realised soon after I posted that a far simpler method would be to use Á

Neither method is elegant, but I don't think anyone will be able to tell the difference.
Why cheat when fonts with the precomposed Greek characters that you need (Ἀ Ἀ and Ά Ά) already exist?

ἈΝΆΓΚΗ

And if you embed a subset version of Galatia SIL (or create an SVG image using this font), it'll look pretty much like the original.
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Old 07-21-2016, 08:24 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexBell View Post
I've just started work on designing an ebook of Notre-Dame de Paris for the MobileRead library, and am having problems with a Greek word found in the preface, the table of contents, and a chapter heading.
Do you have an actual image of the original scan to share?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doitsu View Post
And if you embed a subset version of Galatia SIL (or create an SVG image using this font), it'll look pretty much like the original.
I agree, this is a good way to go. Another tip to keep in mind might be to markup your HTML like this:

Code:
<span class="greek" lang="grc" xml:lang="grc">ἈΝΆΓΚΗ</span>
grc = Ancient Greek
el = Modern Greek

Then you could easily insert/subset a font + do anything special just for the "greek" class.

Also, way back when (2013), in this topic:

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho....php?p=2535015

Doitsu pointed me to this site:

Lexilogos Ancient Greek Keyboard Online

which I still use to this day.

Last edited by Tex2002ans; 07-21-2016 at 08:33 AM.
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Old 07-21-2016, 12:52 PM   #6
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In case it might be helpful, I am pasting a screenshot below from the online Liddell-Scott-Jones Greek-English Lexicon. The basic meaning of "ananke" is 'force, constraint, necessity'.



Wikipedia has a brief entry on Hugo's interpretation of "ananke":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ananke..._in_literature
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Old 07-22-2016, 03:52 AM   #7
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Alex, it's perhaps worth noting that accents above words can (in Ancient Greek, at least) safely be omitted. They are there simply to indicate how the word is stressed, and do not form a part of the "spelling" of the word. The "apostrophe" at the start of the word is different; that's a "breathing mark" and indicates whether of not the word starts with an "h". It is a part of the word's spelling and must be there.
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Old 07-23-2016, 01:58 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doitsu View Post
Why cheat when fonts with the precomposed Greek characters that you need (Ἀ &#7944; and Ά &#902;) already exist?

ἈΝΆΓΚΗ

And if you embed a subset version of Galatia SIL (or create an SVG image using this font), it'll look pretty much like the original.
Thanks, Doitsu. When I initially posted I did not know where to find the precomposed characters. Also, it seems to me that the second Alpha in your post is not the same as what appears in the source text. I've attached a screenshot of the version I'm using now, which is very similar to the source text. I still have a very long way to go in the book, and may change my mind later.

PS I've just looked at the Lexilogos site, and don't see an Alpha the same as the second Alpha in my thumbnail. Perhaps the Oxford Classics Edition is wrong; it definitely has the second Alpha looking like the one in the thumbnail. Now I'm even more confused than I was when I started. It's ancient Greek; perhaps I'll follow Harry's advice.
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Old 07-23-2016, 01:59 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
Alex, it's perhaps worth noting that accents above words can (in Ancient Greek, at least) safely be omitted. They are there simply to indicate how the word is stressed, and do not form a part of the "spelling" of the word. The "apostrophe" at the start of the word is different; that's a "breathing mark" and indicates whether of not the word starts with an "h". It is a part of the word's spelling and must be there.
Thanks, Harry, that's most helpful.
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Old 07-23-2016, 04:37 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexBell View Post
Also, it seems to me that the second Alpha in your post is not the same as what appears in the source text.
If I understand it correctly, your concern is the difference between:

Ά: GREEK CAPITAL LETTER ALPHA WITH TONOS
Ά: GREEK CAPITAL LETTER ALPHA WITH OXIA
Á: LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A WITH ACUTE

I think the first is for modern Greek, the second for ancient Greek, the third for Latin scripts. The first two should probably look the same, and I believe the second is not recommended (i.e., use the first for both modern and ancient Greek).

Perhaps the typesetter in your book didn't have the Greek accented character and used the Latin one, or he was following a different convention. This may be relevant: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_...ion_in_letters (note "Diacritics can be found above capital letters in medieval texts")
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Old 07-23-2016, 04:57 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexBell View Post
When I initially posted I did not know where to find the precomposed characters. Also, it seems to me that the second Alpha in your post is not the same as what appears in the source text.
I'm pretty sure that my version is correct because I checked it against the French original and a Greek dictionary. As kalwisti has already pointed out, it's the uppercase version of ἀνάγκη (ananke) and if you look at the two alphas with a Unicode editor you'll find out that it contains the following letters:

ἀ GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA WITH PSILI (U+1F00)
ά GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA WITH TONOS (U+03AC)

And HarryT is, of course, also right in that the capital Greek letters usually aren't written with accents above letters, but Hugo decided to write them with accents anyway.

(My version contained the uppercase versions of alpha with psili/tonos.)
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Old 07-23-2016, 05:06 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doitsu View Post
And HarryT is, of course, also right in that the capital Greek letters usually aren't written with accents above letters, but Hugo decided to write them with accents anyway.
My point was actually that you can safely omit accents (but not breathing marks) from any Greek text. Accents were a late addition to the written language and were added purely to assist barbarians (ie non-Greeks) in stressing words correctly. The presence or absence of an accent doesn't change the meaning of the word, or affect its readability to someone who can actually read Greek (which is, I suspect, a rather small proportion of the readership of an English book these days ).

tl;dr version: Don't worry about accents. They don't matter.
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Old 07-24-2016, 01:06 AM   #13
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Thanks for all your responses. I feel like a hamster on a treadmill - running faster and faster but getting nowhere.

Doitsu #11 has shown that there is a difference between what a French printer did and what an English printer did.

I've decided to do as best I can what Hugo or his English printers did, rather than obsess over what the inscription on the wall (carved in ancient Greek) would have looked like.

I'll use Ά for the first Alpha, and &Aacute; for the second Alpha. As Harry indicated few modern readers will know what the inscription would have looked like. And I think fewer still will care.
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Old 07-24-2016, 03:56 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexBell View Post
I'll use Ά for the first Alpha, and &Aacute; for the second Alpha.
That's what I wouldn't do It's mixing Greek alpha and Latin a, which might look different in some fonts (kind of assuming 1 and l look the same, as they used to do in most typewriters).

If you go on that road, maybe you want to use N instead of Nu, K instead of Kappa and H instead of Eta, and &rsquo;A instead of Ά (and even use a mirrored L for Gamma if you can rely on CSS3 or SVG). If you absolutely want Ά to look like Á, I'd embed a modified font, where you have replaced that glyph, but the underlying text should have "Alpha with tonos", and not "A with acute accent".

But I'm a nitpicker
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Old 07-24-2016, 06:21 AM   #15
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I'm on your side here. If the proper glyphs are available they should be used.
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