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How do you spell ... ?


Map of Ancient Europe

Map of Ancient Europe

Question: How do you spell ... ?
Answer: It's hard enough to look up words written using the Roman alphabet -- like English, but it becomes nearly impossible when they're spelled using other alphabets. Take a Chinese word (based on a syllabary rather than an alphabet) rendered into English, like "Sichuan". It could be spelled "Szechuan" and probably half a dozen other ways. A Greek word may cause difficulty in that, for instance, some modern writers will replace the Greek /o/ with a Roman /u/ when writing in English; there is not a one-to-one letter equivalence between the Greek and Roman alphabets. There is no /c/ in Greek, only /k/, chi, and gamma. Since there is no /c/ in ancient Greek, "Heracles" may be "Herakles" or "Hercules" (the Roman version and standard one used in English). The Greek word "Boiotia" is usually rendered into English as "Boeotia". The Greek "Athene" is "Athena" in English.
The name of the Celtic queen who fought the Romans in Britain is spelled Boudica, Boudicca, or Boadicea.
Hebrew words are also confusing because the alphabet lacks vowels and the consonants are not identical to the English ones. The word "Hanukkah" can be spelled with almost endless varieties, from "Chanuka" to "Chanukkah" and "Hanukka" to "Hanukah". Sometimes the only way to find what you're looking for is through trial and error. So the answer to "how do you spell ... ?" is "p_a_t_i_e_n_c_e".

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