[INDOLOGY] Question on Diacritical Marks

Adheesh Sathaye adheesh1 at gmail.com
Mon Sep 5 17:12:35 UTC 2016

Dear Jeffery,

In general, regardless of audience, I would feel that it’s acceptable, and sometimes even preferable to do away with diacritic marks and go with commonly observable Roman-script spellings for Sanskrit terms, or Tamil or Arabic or any language X terms for that matter, if these are isolated terms within what is otherwise a complete English sentence (or German or French or any language Y sentence). If you make mistakes in diacritics, for example, it can lead to serious errors, say if you were to make claims about Rāma’s bāla instead of his bala. 

But if one encounters an entire phrase, sentence, or passage that is without diacritics, then trying to read it becomes a total train wreck. 

Just consider what would happen the other way around— 

अगर आप हिंदि पढते-पढते दूसरी भाषा के  एक-दो वर्ड्स देखतें, तो कोई बाद नहि ना ?
लेकिन, इफ यू हॅव टू रीड ए होल सेण्टन्स लाइक धिस, ऑर मेबी इवन ए फुल पॅसेज, यू विल प्रोबाब्ली गो क्रेझी । 

How’s that for candid? 

Dr. Adheesh Sathaye
Dept. of Asian Studies
University of British Columbia
408-1871 West Mall
Vancouver BC CANADA V6T1Z2
adheesh at mail.ubc.ca 


> On Sep 5, 2016, at 09.13, Jeffery Long via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info> wrote:
> From: Jeffery Long <dharmaprof108 at yahoo.com>
> Subject: Question on Diacritical Marks
> Date: September 5, 2016 at 09.12.54 PDT
> To: Indology List <indology at list.indology.info>
> Reply-To: Jeffery Long <dharmaprof108 at yahoo.com>
> Dear Colleagues,
> I have a somewhat delicate question on which I would appreciate your candid opinions.
> Imagine a doctoral dissertation in the field of philosophy.  The primary audience for this dissertation is other philosophers, most of whom are likely to have little or no expertise in the field of Indology.  The dissertation does, however, engage quite extensively with Indic philosophical traditions and texts, and does so in a serious and responsible fashion.  Because the author him or herself is also, however, primarily a philosopher and not an Indologist, s/he does not deploy diacritical marks in presenting Sanskrit terms.
> How would such a dissertation be regarded by most of you?  Would the non-use of diacritical marks alone disqualify this work from being taken seriously?  (My own reaction: I would personally find it distracting and irritating, but not disqualifying if the scholarship were otherwise sound.)  Your thoughts?
> With thanks in advance,
> Jeff
> Dr. Jeffery D. Long
> Professor of Religion and Asian Studies
> Elizabethtown College
> Elizabethtown, PA
> https://etown.academia.edu/JefferyLong
> Series Editor, Explorations in Indic Traditions: Theological, Ethical, and Philosophical
> Lexington Books
> Consulting Editor, Sutra Journal
> http://www.sutrajournal.com
> "One who makes a habit of prayer and meditation will easily overcome all difficulties and remain calm and unruffled in the midst of the trials of life."  (Holy Mother Sarada Devi)
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