Feb 21, 2007

o, ō, ω, s, ς, σ, e, ē, ê, έ, η… &#%*!?!!

Today was a rather tedious day at the library. I'm revising a paper I wrote on the use and meaning of "temperance" in the Platonic dialogues. This is the paper that I'll submit for my "transition viva", which is the process by which I'm officially upgraded from Masters student to PhD candidate. In other words, the paper needs to be good. So, in addition to sharpening the conclusion and tightening the arguments, I'm simultaneously checking all the spelling, grammer, and wording.

Now, Plato wrote in Greek, so the word I'm actually researching is "sophrosyne", which is Greek for temperance, or moderation. And as I'm revising the paper, I realize that I wasn't very careful about staying true to each author or commentator's particular rendering of the word. That is, each person may or may not have done the following:

  • used the Greek alphabet, (σωφροωυνη v. sophrosyne)
  • if not in Greek, then transliterated the long vowels (σωφροωυνη v. sophrosyne v. sōphrosynē)
  • used italics (sophrosyne v. sophrosyne v. sōphrosynē v. sōphrosynē v. σωφροσυνη v. σωφροσυνη)
  • used any particular spelling, and there appear to be 3 or 4 options (sophrosyne v. sophrosyne v. sophrosune v. sophrosune v. sōphrosynē v. sōphrosynē v. σωφροσυνη v. σωφροσυνη v. ςωφροςυνη v. σωφροσύνη)

Additionally, I have to select which version I'll use in the original portion of my paper. Now, I've used 2 translations of 4 different dialogues, and 11 different commentaries. My paper is 46 pages long, with around 200 footnotes. So, I spent today doing the following:

  1. Checking each and every use of (some form of) the word sophrosyne
  2. Verifying that those in the original portion all say sōphrosynē (my advisor seemed to prefer this one)
  3. matching EACH of the remaining words to its source (which commentator, which spelling) to make sure I've stayed true to the original

And so... 4 hours in the library, 16 bibliographical sources, 46 pages, and 201 footnotes later, I ask you -- wouldn't it be easier to just say "temperance"?

&!#?% academic standards.


Rachel said...

That gives me a headache just thinking about it! I admire your hard work!

Anonymous said...

To a very small extent, this reminds me of doing my "scholarly research" in the Tech library, late 1960's, with no help from computer, etc. Looking up every article separately and writing my name and social security # on a separate card for every book I checked out! But, at least everything was in English!.
Proud of all the hard work you are doing--and keeping a good perspective and your wonderful sense of humor. Love Mom

Maria Kenney said...

Mom -- this is a good reality check for me. At least Microsoft Word has Greek Symbols, Copy and Paste, etc. Whenever I think of how papers used to be written, I'm reminded not to whine!

Blue November said...

Hey, look on the bright side... you could have needed to include an uncials variation as well!

Maria Kenney said...

I don't even know what those are, and I don't care.

Lazymom said...

See...this is what im talking about. I blog about Oscar dresses and celebrities shaving themselves and you blog about stuff that requires research and knowledge.


Way to make the rest of us look bad.