As a non-Latin script writer, how often do you use Latin script?

By: | Post date: 2017-04-04 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Modern Greek, Writing Systems

It was only when I read Dimitris Almyrantis’ response, that I realised the question refers to the ad hoc use of ASCII romanisations online—such as Greeklish for Greek, Finglish for Persian, Arabic chat alphabet, Informal romanizations of Cyrillic, and so on.

So my answer will be along the same lines as his and Alice Tsymbarevich’s: if you are a writer in a language that doesn’t use Latin script, how often do you switch to Latin script, either as a Romanisation, or as loan words?


I am close to three decades older than Dimitris. (When the hell did *that* happen?) Because of that, I remember a time when Unicode had not yet permeated the world, when any language other than English forced you to jump through hoops of squabbling encoding schemes, and when it truly was much easier all round just to give up and use ASCII.

So how often did I use Latin script for Greek in the 90s? A lot. A hell of a lot. Online, much more than Greek script. And there were norms of Greeklish, and squabbles over the norms, and people able to read five or six different transliteration conventions in the one thread without blinking, because that’s just how it was, and there was never any possibility of standardisation. We didn’t even particularly regard that as a bad thing. And I have a residual affection for it, which Dimitris never had to develop.

More recently? There are still domains where ASCII is less hassle for Greek, but they are fewer and fewer, and I strongly suspect most Greeklish these days comes out of Greeks in Latin-script countries, using public lab computers (so they can’t install a Greek keyboard). I see Greeklish in YouTube or blog comments, and in reports of SMS chat; but it’s a lot less than it used to be.

I used to use Greeklish in the subjects of emails whose body was in Greek script, out of worry that the subjects would get mangled. I stopped worrying about that a few years ago.

When I was working at the TLG, I had a lot (a lot) of chat with my Greek colleague there about things we were programming together. He’d type in Greeklish, coz who can be bothered switching keyboards. I would try to type in Greek. But I was codeswitching so much into English for IT terminology (much more than him), that switching keyboards got infuriating for me too; and I’d often just stay in Greeklish.

EDIT: Here’s an example:

Nick Nicholas:

οχι [No]

ειναι front end [It’s front end]

John Salatas:

a den einai tou morphea? [Oh, it isn’t Morpheus’?]

Nick Nicholas:

einai, alla to pilateuw sto TLGMisc [*not script-switched back from front end* It is, but I’m futzing with it in TLGMisc]

οποτε δε χρειαζεται repos [*script switched* So it doesn’t need a …]

depopulation [*autocorrect*]

re population [… repopulation]

Contemporary Greek in general script-switches, in ways like Alice described for Cyrillic, although arguably much more so: foreign names are often left in Roman script now, and increasingly so are English unassimilated loans. Even if my technical Greek were better than it is, script switching for English-in-Greek is just a reality of typing Greek now.

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