Guide to Greek Usage in Cataloging

Dasia: the mark of rough breathing before vowels ( )

The dasia, which marks rough breathing, is romanized h . When it appears with a vowel or a diphthohg, the h precedes the romanized vowel or diphthong; when it appears with rho (Ρ,'ρ), the h follows the romanized rho (Rh, rh). The h is supplied as appropriate when the rough breathing does not appear in the Greek text) for example when the text is in all capitals, or, in Modern Greek when the text is in monotonic orthography). Exception: in Modern Greek, romanize Ρ/'ρ as Rh/rh only if the rough breathing appears in the Greek text. As Modern Greek publications now print only monotonic (one accent) texts, you must consult a dictionary printed in the polytonic (many accents) system of accentuation to determine if a particular word is written with the rough breathing mark before a vowel. When searching for titles that contain any words using the dasia, you must supply the initial h or your search may fail.

Examples of the romanization of rough breathing:

Έλλάδα = Hellada ‘έξη̃ς = hexēs ‘ημέρα = hēmera
‘οριζόντιος = horizontios ‘υπέρ = hyper ‘ιερεύς = hiereus

­­­­In Abbreviated Adjectives:

The examples presented below are the two most commonly abbreviated words found in Greek texts:

  1. "Hiera" (holy) romanizes as 'Hi.' in abbreviated form.. Given its meaning, it is found with all manner of ecclesiastical terms: Holy Monastery; Holy Church, Holy Metropolis, etc.
  2. "Hagios" (saint) romanizes as "Hag" in abbreviated form. Given its meaning, it is found with all manner of proper names: Saint George, Saint Katherina, Saint Irene, etc.

‘Ιερά Μονή Σταυρονικήτα = Hiera Monē Stauroniketa (Holy Monastery Stauroniketa); abbreviated as : Ι.Μ.Σταυρονικήτα in Greek; romanized as Hi. M. [Stauroniketa]

‘Άγιος Δημήτριος = Hagios Dēmētrios (Saint Demetrios); abbreviated as ‘Άγ.Δημήτριος in Greek; romanized as Hag. [Dēmētrios]

----In Acronyms:

The examples presented below, (with the exception of "Haimou"), are words widely used in Greek corporate body acronyms (underlined for emphasis). Happily, in corporate body acronyms, the romanization of the rough breathing h is not an issue. You do not use it :

‘Ίδρυμα Μελετών Χερσονήσου του Αίμου = Hidryma Meletōn Chersonēsou tou Haimou (Institute of Balkan Studies). Its acronym form appears as Ι.Μ.Χ.Α. in Greek, which romanizes to I. M. Ch. A. ("Hidryma" romanizes as "I."; Haimou romanizes as "A" in acronym initial)

‘Εταιρεία για τα Δικαιώματα των Μειονοτήτων = Hetaireia gia ta Dikaiōmata tōn Meionotētōn (Association for Minority Rights). Its acronym form appears as Ε.Δ.Μ. in Greek, which romanizes to E.D.M. .( "Hetaireia" romanizes as E in acronym initial)

‘Ελληνικό Λογοτεχνικό και ‘Ιστορικό Αρχείο = Hellēniko Logotechniko kai Historiko Archeio (Greek Archive of Literature and History). Its acronym form appears as : Ε.Λ.Ι.Α. in Greek, which romanizes to E.L.I.A. ("Hellēniko"" romanizes as E.; "Historiko" romanizes as I in acronym initial)

----In Articles:

ὁ, ἡ, οἱ, αἱ, ἑνας, εἷς = ho, hē, hoi, hai, henas, heis

Summing up

The rough breathing mark, while no longer printed in Modern Greek texts will be known to you through experience and practice: when present, it is always represented by an h preceding vowels and dipththongs

  • It will include a second letter if it is an abbreviated adjective
  • It is not used in romanized Greek corporate body acronyms, which means a romanized corporate body acronym may be identical to the Greek form
  • You must consult a dictionary with the polytonic markings to determine if the rough breathing mark is present in particular words
  • The vowels in Greek which correspond to the English vowels (a,e,i and o) often have a rough breathing mark; Υ/υ always has a rough breathing


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