So, when I was gathering materials for my PhD in Greek dialectology, I noticed that Greeks collecting texts would transcribe them in the Greek alphabet (natch), but foreigners in the 20th century usually used a Roman-based phonetic alphabet. Not the IPA, that would be way too sensible; typically some adaptation of a God-awful French or German dialectological alphabet.
Such as Hubert Pernot’s classic on Tsakonian. Or August Heisenberg (Werner’s dad) and his work with Greek POWs in World War I. Or Louis Roussel, and his collection of fairy tales, collected in 1910, and published in 1929.
The blurb for the recent Greek reprint (and transliteration back into Greek) has it as:
Fairy Tales of Mykonos reveals the other side [of] Mykonos, far from summer scenes and tourist attractions. It is a journey into the past, guided by a French Hellenist and a Myconian folklorist. Panagiotios Kousathanas offers Greek and foreign readers a forgotten book. These lively fairy tales were written in 1910-11, and published in France in 1929. Some appeared in I Mikioniatiki newspaper around 15 years ago. The book is an opportunity to learn about the everyday customs, beliefs and fears of an age-old island population. Three storytellers told Roussel tales of lords and priests; dancing, festivities, and feasts; of girls transformed into birds by wicked witches and of lovers and spouses who incur suspicion. Related to the Greek demotic tradition and to Perrault and the Brothers Grimm, Myconian fairy tales are full of laughter, pain and passion for everything in life: birth, love, marriage, work, the family and death.
Well, that’s the poetic way of putting it. Leafing through it, I saw it reflected a clearly hardscrabble existence, with donkeys and fishing and strict islander morality, and a world not much wider than the Aegean.
My reaction: “So Mykonos used to be a real place…”