Tinderbox Forum

Query re Ancient Greek and Macs

Slightly off topic, but I thought I would try here since I’ve seen a couple of workflows involving ancient Greek on the forum.

What’s the best/easiest way to type/manipulate ancient Greek on the mac? I know at least one very sophisticated windows program I can run on Crossover, but would much much prefer something native… Any leads appreciated.

Thanks — JM

@Bernard-0 can probably help with that.


The way I do it is to go to the Keyboard Preference Pane and install the Polytonic Greek keyboard. Then I can switch back and forth between Greek and English using the Keyboard menu widget in the menubar. If you use the Show Keyboard Viewer command you will get a keyboard on which you can see the Greek letters mapped to the Roman letters. Also, there you will see the keys for producing variant forms with diacriticals or breathing marks. These work the same way accents and diacriticals work for modern languages. After a short time, the majority of the keyboard becomes quite familiar for typing.

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Thanks so much. I knew there had to be something simpler than what I found written about on line. Thanks — JM

For non-standard languages and keyboards on MacOS there is a special program Ukelele, where you can make any keyboard layout settings:

In addition to speeding up the dialing of numbers, for example, you can program in the right font to replace the Arabic numbers in the ancient Greek, for example I did for myself replace any number from 1 to 10000:
you type 2022, it’s auto-replaced by

Yes on the meantime I’ve discovered the SIL software ensemble… amazing breadth of products. Totally worth digging into. Best - JM

I use the built-in Polytonic Greek keyboard layout with a few adjustments made with the open-source app Karabiner, which I highly recommend.

If the software changes the font, this is something to be discouraged. A font displaying Arabic numerals with the shape of Greek numerals has glyphs and chars in the wrong places according to the Unicode standard. It breaks very easily, and it would not be acceptable for most academic journals these days.

The SIL Classical Greek keyboard works well — without too much autocorrect — although out of the box it doesnt have the Porsonic hat-like circumflex, just the tilde, which is a pebble in my shoe. I’ll check out karabiner. Thanks again everyone. - JM

I also highly recommend using Typinator with this set of Ancient Greek auto-corrections and abbreviations: Polytonic Greek Typinator Set • Download and Instructions

You’ll be able to type 90% of the words without any diacritical mark, and it will automatically replace it with the (most likely) correct version.

Yeah I checked out the typinator greek keyboards etc. I’m taking my first formal ancient greek course, though, so want to learn the diacritics before I start letting the machine do it ;).
The SIL module resists when I write it wrong, but doesnt supply the correct way, which is ideal for now.
(I’m already enjoying the language in the same perverse/glutton for punishment way I enjoy German. :wink: Thanks — JM

I mean the built-in ability of the OpenType font itself to automatically replace certain characters. I constantly use texts in which, for example, page numbering is not arabic numerals and font made by me never failed me and always all the numbers are displayed correctly according to the rules of grammar