Friday, July 5, 2013

Spelling movie titles in ancient Greek (it says S*SCT*A, do you know what it is?)

Still doing my kind of sort of inventory of DVDs and I just bumped into Electra, except that's not what the title used.  On the one hand I understand why they'd want to use Greek letters, Greek letters are eye catching for those of us used to a different alphabet and Electra is the name of an ancient Greek tragedy so why not spell it like it's ancient Greek?  It's where the name comes from after all.

Here's the problem: Do you know how you spell Electra in Ancient Greek?

Here's how:


Except the movie title is in all caps (which isn't far off since lowercase letters are a more recent invention, a merciful invention), with the first letter being slightly larger to indicate it's doubly capital (which is far off.)  So it would be:


Are you getting "Electra" out of that?  Or is it coming out more like H[static]ectpa?
(To not have to say "[static]" I'm just going to stick Arabic letters in so "Hلectpa")

The point is, maybe ancient Greek isn't the best thing for a title.

Also things to note.  A capital alpha looks just like an A, a capital epsilon looks just like an E, the first E in Electra is a long E and in ancient Greek (always have to disclaim that I know not a damn thing about modern Greek) that gets a letter all it's own: Eta.  Which looks like an H, confusing I know.  Rho looks like a P, that can be annoying.  The Kappa and Tau both look as they should to match our alphabet

Since we only have one E in our alphabet one could convert it to:


Eلektpa  Still not there.  Borrow two letters from the Latin alphabet and you can have


Five Greek letters and two Latin, and you can actually read it.  But if you want to emphasize the Greekness it sort of fails.  One could switch to lowercase:


Which gets the Greek feel back, somewhat, but all this is moot because the movie's title was actually: S not-a-letter S K T not-a-letter L

Let me repeat that, the movie is called:


Or, with my Arabic substitution scheme:


Because, yeah, that spells Electra just fine.  Even if we assume you know what the wrong alphabet symbols mean, you're left with "Slsktrl" whatever the hell that means.

So, if you're making a movie, don't title it:


Unless your goal is to look like an asshole who doesn't know what he/she/it's doing.


Seriously, this is the actual title of the movie, again, but in lowercase rather than uppercase:


There aren't even any vowels in it.


  1. I once saw a movie where they tried to sell the idea that a fraternity using the letters ΛΡΚ was "Alpha Pi Chi" Which is kind of impressively wrong.

    1. Lambda Rho Kappa. Sounds just like "Alpha Pi Chi" who would ever notice the difference?

  2. Hmm, I believe that the accenting marks (and even the initial breathing) are also a relatively recent innovation, coming around the time of Alexander.

    I get very narked about people doing this with Cyrillic, too. No, turning the Ns and Rs backwards doesn't make it look Russian (at least to me), it makes it look subliterate.