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date: 29 February 2020

(p. xxxvii) Note on Transliteration

(p. xxxvii) Note on Transliteration

The standardization of the transliteration of foreign languages in the OHLA is a difficult prospect. Numerous ancient and modern languages are represented in this book, and the contributors themselves come from several different national backgrounds and scholarly communities. My primary goal as editor has been the standardization of orthography and transliteration within each chapter on its own terms. A secondary goal has been standardization across groups of chapters dealing with related material or languages (see below). A tertiary goal has been standardization across the whole volume, but this is obviously something of a chimera given its size and complexity and, regardless, the thorough index at the back of the book renders complete standardization unnecessary.

For instance, the name of the sixth-century historian Procopius of Caesarea will appear in some chapters of the OHLA in its Latinized form, Procopius, and in others in its Hellenized form, Prokopios. When consistent within chapters this variance in usage is perfectly normal for late antique scholarship and should pose few problems. Nevertheless, the reader of the OHLA should be aware of the possibility of variance between different chapters and should make use of the index where a question arises. The index lists variants in spelling and collects references to single topics or people under one entry, for example, “Yazdgard [Yazdajird, Yazdegerd, Yazkert] I (Sasanian ruler), 296, 994–95, 1002–3, 1004, 1014.” The index also cross-references significant transliteration differences. Please see the headnote to the index for more information.

However, my second goal of standardizing orthography and transliteration across groups of chapters has proved to be a bigger challenge. Toward the goal of professionalism among specialists in ancillary fields, I insisted on certain unifying principles: specifically, the need for standardization among the chapters that deal extensively with Arabic words and names. For these chapters—especially 9 (Robin), 31 (Walker), 32 (Hoyland), and 33 (Shoemaker)—I have sought a more literal mode of transliteration that can satisfy the expectations of scholars in Semitics and Islamic studies. Thus, the name of the Prophet Muhammad is rendered in these chapters as Muḥammad, just as ḥadīth, sīra, and ‘Ā’isha are transliterated with the appropriate diacritical marks.

In other chapters that do not deal extensively with Arabic, common Arabic words do not contain diacritical marks. In such chapters the name Muhammad has been rendered in its Anglicized form, without diacritics. An exception to this rule is the word Qur’ān which appears in this form throughout the volume, not just in the group of chapters mentioned above. Likewise, wherever Arabic and Syriac words occur (not to mention Hebrew, Aramaic, and Ethiopic) I have (p. xxxviii) attempted to maintain consistency with regard to distinguishing the letters ’aleph () and ‘ayin (). The Armenian and Coptic transliterations I have left to the authors of those chapters and checked for consistency.

Overall, the transliteration of ancient languages in this book is a compromise system based upon what I perceived to be the most natural expectations of readers. The main goal was consistency within each chapter. To reiterate my recommendation above, the reader should be aware of possible variance between chapters and make use of the index where necessary.