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Translation and Transliteration

Translation and Transliteration
Reflection in Well, Gavalochori. Luka Tica, Foundation for Gavalochori

We have followed several guidelines in translating and transliterating Greek words and names into English. Transliterating is the process of changing letters and words into corresponding characters of another alphabet or language, and translation is the process of rendering the same ideas in a different language from the original. We have used both processes in this website.

Our most difficult problem was figuring out how to transliterate Greek words (and particularly place names) into their English versions. Greek letters can be transliterated into many different English letters—for example, the Greek letter X can be transliterated into English as CH or H. In most cases, we followed ELOT 743, a code in accordance with ISO 843.ELOT that was established by the Greek Organization for Standardization. This is a system that facilitates the consistent Romanization of Greek names, and it is used by the Greek passport agency and government. It tells which Greek letter corresponds to which Roman letter and is publicly accessible here.

There were only a few words where we did not use the ELOT 743 system. The reason was that the system produced versions of words that are not commonly used on Crete and that might cause confusion to you as you use this website. We did not follow the system with these words:

  • Instead of the recommended Irakleio for the largest city on Crete, we chose to use its more common form, Heraklion.

  • Instead of the recommended Knosos for the archaeological site near Heraklion, we have used Knossos.

  • Instead of the recommended Peiraias for the port near Athens, we are choosing to use the more common Piraeus. 

We have followed a number of other policies concerning the interaction between Greek and English versions of words throughout this website: 

  • When we give directions, we include both the English version of the name and the original Greek word. We hope this will help you navigate Crete and find the places you are looking for, especially in instances when you only have the Greek available. 

  • In the section, “Eat,” we identify food items by their most common English names on menus on Crete—sometimes, these are transliterated words, and sometimes they are translated words. We also provide the Greek words for these foods in the hopes that this will help you navigate menus more easily in and around Gavalochori. 

  • We sometimes use a transliterated English word to explain a custom or to name a religious or cultural item of some kind. When we do, we also provide the Greek word to honor the culture about which we are writing.

  • We provide three names for each of the churches in Gavalochori—the Greek words, the transliterated English words, and the translated English words. We have done the same thing the first time the saint for whom a church is named is mentioned in the text about the church. Our rationale is twofold: First, religion and the churches play important roles in the life of Gavalochori, and we want to honor that role by including the names the villagers would use and that you as a visitor might hear. Second, the English names for the churches and the saints are, in many cases, very different from the Greek versions (John vs. Ioannis, for example), which can cause confusion for visitors like you who might want to visit churches or attend the services at them.

With languages other than English (such as German and Chinese), we did not transliterate Greek words or names into that language. We kept the Greek and the English as they were in the English version of the text, thinking that some readers of German and Chinese are likely to understand English and that the English words would make more sense than transliterating the words into the other languages.

We want to acknowledge the important roles that two people played in helping us with transliteration and translation issues: Vassilis Kallimoukos (Βασίλης Καλλιμούκος) and Fotinii Arapi (Φωτεινή Αράπη). Thank you!

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