Monday, September 26, 2005

Polytonic Greek

ὅστις γὰρ αὐτὸς ἢ φρονεῖν μόνος δοκεῖ,
ἢ γλῶσσαν, ἣν οὐκ ἄλλος, ἢ ψυχὴν ἔχειν,
οὗτοι διαπτυχθέντες ὤφθησαν κενοί
ἀλλ᾽ ἄνδρα, κεἴ τις ᾖ σοφός, τὸ μανθάνειν
πόλλ᾽, αἰσχρὸν οὐδὲν καὶ τὸ μὴ τείνειν ἄγαν.

I installed my Polytonic Greek keyboard tonight. This is the first keyboard and language support that I have installed on this computer. I don't have too much trouble using it. There are dead keys for the accents and spirits (breathing marks) - more about this keyboard later. My first objective was to make sure that it would display properly.

I went to the Better Bibles Blog and read very carefully. The first rule is that one must use precomposed Greek glyphs for accented and marked vowels. In order to do this you have to use the fonts that have them - Palatino Linotype is a common one but Tahoma is a bit more modern looking, I guess. These fonts are already in WinXP and I hope most people have them.

So Polytonic Greek text must be inputted in Palatino Linotype, Tahoma or Microsoft Sans Serif. I settled on Microsoft Sans Serif. Now blogger doesn't offer any of these fonts as an option but if the Better Bibles Blog can display Polytonic Greek then I guess I can. So I dragged out an old HTML guide and looked up fonts. I found that fonts can be described thus. Well, I can't do it, can I? but anyway I did type the HTML for the Microsoft Sans Serif font write into the compose window with the correct code for defining a font, and then tried out the other fonts as well. It worked.

I have posted a few lines from one of my favourite plays. Somehow the dialogue in this play always sounds as if it was written yesterday, especially when the son says to his father "You wish to speak but you never wish to hear!" Some things never change. I don't have a very philosophical taste in Greek literature - give me a good family quarrel. I don't really like David Grene's translation of the section I have posted - maybe someone will give me a better one.

I really have learned something today that I thought I never would. Thanks, Simon, for your comment. Now I will check out your website.

Addendum: The topic of this post continues in Polytonic Greek Fonts and Father and Son


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It shouldn't really matter what font is specified for the page. Any decent browser will recognize if a character set isn't included in the specific font, and substitute another font for those characters.

Of course, that means you don't get to choose which font your visitors' browsers will use to render the characters. However, you can set for your own browser a default font to fall back on for specific languages.


11:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe I shall try to post Polytonic Greek without defining the font. I am so tired of visiting Classical Greek blogs and seeing a lot of boxes and I didn't want that to happen here. Thanks for the tip.

6:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At work on a windows XP machine the precomposed glyphs do not display at all and this is a mess of empty boxes. I am still on the same browser. I can't manually add fonts in the browser since the apply button has been disabled. Hmm.

4:20 PM  
Blogger Simon said...

Try out with Mozilla Firefox (

I have noticed that IE will use a single font to display a page (provided no specific fonts have been selected), while Firefox will make an effort to collect glyph-sets from different fonts, if the basic one has some missing.

Thus, on WinXP, all Polytonic Greek examples show well for me.

12:43 PM  

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