On Transliteration and Calendars

In: The Ottoman Press (1908-1923)
Erol A.F. Baykal
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On Transliteration and Calendars

All Ottoman Turkish texts are transliterated into Modern Turkish orthography without diacritical marks. Arabic texts are transliterated without diacritical marks for elongated vowels or emphatic consonants. Ayn and hamza are transcribed as ʿ and ʾ respectively, and the latter is only rendered if there is a potential for ambiguity. In the case of Arabic or Farsi words and expressions found within a Turkish context, these are transliterated either into their commonly used forms (e.g. Darüşşafaka) or, if no commonly used form exists, they are rendered as closely as possible to their Turkish version (e.g. Nüzhet ül-Efkar) as opposed to their Arabic version (in this example, i.e. Nuzha al-Afkar). When quoting from sources which included transliterations, preference is given to the system used in that source. However, when mistakes were found in the spelling, these are corrected.

Place names are rendered according to their current day English versions. If deemed necessary, the form in which they appear in sources is given in brackets, following the currently used name.

Titles and Personal Names

Personal names are rendered in their most current Turkish form (e.g., Ahmet rather than Ahmed) unless the name occurs in a bibliographic reference, or if it occurs in a direct quote from a Latin alphabet-based source text. Surnames obtained after the Surname Law passed in Turkey (1934) are added between square brackets (e.g., Ahmet İhsan [Tokgöz]). Turkish authors who are best known for their work in Ottoman times are referred to by their given names.

Especially in the case of permit applications, a publication’s title or person’s name will have undergone several transformations between transliterations. For example, an Armenian title was written in Ottoman script during a newspaper permit application. This title was then francisized during the publication in RMM or it was Turkified by one of the many employees of BOA who might not have spoken the original language. Even if they did, there does not appear to be an adherence to a specific transliteration system, which means that the same title or a name could be rendered differently even among BOA records and definitely between various primary sources. Therefore, when the original spelling was not available, these titles and names are left in their presented form, unless it was absolutely clear (e.g., a missing accent in a French title) what the original name or title was, in which case they are transliterated accordingly. In the list of permit applications and publications in the index, all spelling variations are given for both titles and names.

Dates and Calendars

Often sources are recorded using several calendars, more specifically a combination of Hicri (Kameri), Rumi and Miladi. To improve legibility and overall uniformity, regardless of the order in which they were given by the source, the dates in the references to these sources were always ordered as Hicri Kameri first, then Rumi and finally Miladi. This, of course, was subject to whether or not a certain calendar was used by the source. In some instances, namely with newspapers and publications appearing in the 1860s, Hicri Şemsi dates were present alongside Hicri Kameri dates. These Hicri Şemsi dates were not taken into account due to their rarity and Hicri in the text refers to Hicri Kameri.

For dates where months are given, the names of the months identify the calendar. When only a year is given, the years will have an H or an R, to mark them as Hicri or Rumi. A “1” was added in front of Rumi and Hicri years where it was omitted by the original authors due to convenience. For example, the Rumi year 1324, if it was recorded as 324 in a source, was still rendered in the text as 1324R. Years and months that were illegible were placed in square brackets.

In the case of archive documents, where there was a discrepancy between the archive catalogue entry date and the document that is referred to (this can often be the case for example with records containing correspondence over a period of time), the date that was found on the document referred to was given preference over the catalogue entry date. With Ottoman newspapers and periodicals, alongside issue numbers, all recorded dates were given, because these publications were prone frequently to making mistakes by not updating the issue number, or misprinting dates in certain calendars. By giving the combination of all possible dates and issue numbers, possible confusion about which issue was referred to was reduced.

All Hicri, Rumi and Miladi dates where the months were given in Turkish have been converted to the Common Era calendar, which are rendered in the text in square brackets following the original dates. Sources where Miladi dates were used without Turkish months (for example numbers of the months or French or English names of months) were not converted. For date conversions Türk Tarih Kurumu’s online Tarih Çevirme Kılavuzu (“Date Conversion Guide,” developed by A.M. Aytaç) was used. If a single date or a Hicri, Rumi or Milady date is rendered between brackets, this means that the date is an estimate or approximation.

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