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April 03, 2006

Hania, Chania or Xania?

XanionIt is quite weird being in a town that we don't know how to spell. There is no set way of transliterating the Greek alphabet into the Western one, which is the kind of thing that really bugs a pedant like me. Settlement in the area goes back to nearly two thousand years BC, and during the time the Venetians ruled Crete the city was know as La Canea. In modern Greek it is written as Χανια or ΧΑΝΙΩΝ. You'll find that I tend to write 'Hania', and Claire writes 'Xania'. And sometimes both of us will use 'Chania'.

Though more importantly perhaps, I still haven't worked out the definitive pronunciation...

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As you will probably learn soon (if you haven't yet), the letter X in cyrillic spelling tranlastes to the letter H in latin spelling. In Serbian cyrillic X is also H, so I guess Xania is Hania (and YOU were right :) )

Very nice blog with good tips ;)
we'll be visiting Hanja [Serbian spelling :)] in 16 days...

although the transliteration is most often made from X to H the sound is more like the ch digraph in Scots (as in loch lomond) - not exact but close enough to pass muster and remember the accent is on the ultimate syllable

I'm glad I found this page on your blog explaining the three names. I've just done a piece about Xania on my blog and linked to your explanation from http://ackworthborn.blogspot.com/2008/01/abc-wednesday-x-is-for-xania.html

best wishes for the new year

If you can get a copy, read "The Last Lemon Grove " by Jackson Webb...it's very rare though. Maybe Amazon

From one (linguistic) pedant to another ;-)

I stubbornly refuse to spell it "Hania". The sound that comes closest to the Greek "χ" is the German "ch", alternatively the Spanish "j". The English language doesn't have an equivalent sound as far as I know. The use of "H" in the latinized orthography of Greek is totally confusing. Compare Hania (Χάνια) with Heraklion (Ηράκλειο). What do these two H's have in common?

See you one day in Chania! Or in Iraklio...

As most non Greeks reading "Chania" tend to pronounce ch like in "church", the safest way of avoiding that would be to write Hania. Xanion means "of Hania" = Dimos Xanion -Municipality of Hania

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