No, I didn’t have a tussle with the police!
In publishing, “authority” refers to the standard whereby various formatting decisions are made. In my case, spelling. My field has a large number of words that are Hebrew or Aramaic in origin that we use regularly to describe Hebrew grammar. The problem is how to transliterate those words from their original writing system to our modern Latin alphabet. The waters are further stirred by two millennia of scholarly publishing on these subjects, with many variations and changes in how to transliterate, that is, spell those words.
My primary authority is The SBL Handbook of Style. It is a style guide for biblical scholars and is a wonderful resource. Except for my need. I needed to use the “standard” spelling for a Hebrew cantillation mark (symbols used in the Hebrew Bible to indicate how the text is to be chanted). Problem is, there isn’t any accepted way. There are older ways, modern Israeli usage and other, idiosyncratic, spellings.
After google’ing for a while, I chose — you’ll never guess it! — Wikipedia. Oh! I can hear the groans and screams of protest and rage now! There’s no way Wikipedia could be an “authority” for anything, they will say. I say, it’s good enough. When I get home, I’ll check with the standard work on Hebrew cantillation, and maybe I’ll follow that. But the Wikipedia version of the spelling of Hebrew accents seems to be a good compromise between accurate transliteration and simple English phonemes.
Like all my blog posts, this post is open for comment. Let the games begin!
I record here my progress according the metrics of page and word count and pages read. The numbers are cumulative.
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