I received the following email from a friend of mine who is not a native speaker of English regarding the transliteration of the word רַבִּי in the Tosefta.
Shalom Eli, concerning your translation and the added punctuation I wanted to tell you, that your Rebbi and the punctuated Rabbi doesn’t match. I know that Rebbi is one possible option, that goes back to a certain traditional reading, but together with the punctuation it doesn’t work (in my eyes). What do you think? … the english word for a sage is “rabbi” and in scientific articels, which are written in english, it’s always “rabbi”, so I’am still not sure, what your intent is.
So I realized that I need to explain my style of transliteration and translation. In this particular case I wrote Rebbi, not as a transliteration of the word רבי, but rather as it is spoken in Yeshivish English, which may not be familiar to people from outside of the Yeshiva circles in English speaking countries.
In an English speaking Yeshiva, students would never refer to their “rabbi” as Rabbi, but rather as Rebbi (pronounced Rehbee). But regular people who speak English would say Rabbi (pronounced Rabuy). The Hebrew word is pronounced Ruhbee, but its spelling in English is Rabbi, so people pronounce it as Rabuy eventhough it should be pronounced as Ruhbee. The same goes for the rabbis of the Talmud. They are called Rav or Rebbi, but not Rabbi.
So I chose to write as religious Jews speak in English and not how regular people speak in English. Among religious English speaking Jews the regular English word “Rabbi” has a not so good connotation, because it implies that the person is not pious or learned. So for example if religious Jews would be talking about a teacher in a Yeshiva they would call him Rebbi (Rehbee), but if they would be talking about some Rabbi who is not so important and no one thinks high of him then they would call him Rabbi (Rabuy).
In modern seforim (like Igrot Moshe) written in Hebrew when referring to an important orthodox rabbi he is always referred to as רבי (Rebbi) or רב (Rav), but when referring to a reform or conservative rabbi he writes his title as רבאיי (Rabbi) to emphasize the English pronunciation as a way to show the person not as a Talmid Chacham (sage), but rather as someone who simply works in a job whose title is Rabbi.
In conclusion, I have chosen to write the title רבי in the Tosefta translation in a way as it is pronounced in Yeshiva circles, which is Rebbi (Rehbee).
Hope this clarifies the issue.