Re: Transliteration in Asia, was Re: Hausa: Boko<->Ajami?

From: Philipp Reichmuth (
Date: Tue Jul 06 2004 - 08:35:58 CDT

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    Peter Kirk schrieb:
    > (There are also languages written in Arabic and Indic scripts, but I
    > don't know enough about these to be helpful.)

    In principle, the situation with Arabic loanwords and the need to retain
    the original Arabic spelling is the same there.

    > Most of these conversions can be programmed easily, although there is
    > a small problem with the new Uzbek Latin alphabet, deliberately
    > based on ASCII only plus apostrophe serving as a diacritic, for sh,
    > ch and gh are usually digraphs [...]

    This is indeed a problem, even though only with "sh" and possibly "iy",
    even though the latter appears only in word-final position. As far as I
    know, "c" is not used in Uzbek except in the "ch" digraph, and the
    apostrophed digraphs "o'" and "g'" are not really problematic in this

    Nevertheless, it is an extremely awkward alphabet from a typographic
    point of view, and also it's not exceedingly systematic to write "sh",
    "ch" but "g'"). The new official Qaraqalpaq Latin alphabet proposed by
    the Uzbek government is even weirder, it uses "a'", "i'", "u'" and "n'"
    in addition to the Uzbek "g'" and "o'".

    > Changing in and out of Arabic script is much more complicated. The
    > main issue is that Arabic loan words (which are common in most of
    > these languages) usually have to be spelled exactly as in Arabic
    > (oddly, except for TEH MARBUTA which becomes either TEH or HEH) even
    > though many of the distinctions are lost in pronunciation and
    > therefore in Latin and Cyrillic script.

    Even in Latin<->Cyrillic conversion, you have the same problems with
    Russian loanwords (Uzbek "январь" > "yanvar" being a borderline case,
    but what about "вулканизация" > "vulkanizasiya"?) or Western proper names.

    > As a very simple example, "Sudan" in Turkish or Azerbaijani can be
    > the name of a country or it can mean "from water", and the correct
    > Arabic spellings are likely to be very different, and can be
    > disambiguated only by complete parsing of the context.

    I think in this particular case the spellings would be the same, but the
    point is valid nonetheless, of course.


    So wichtig wie die Braut zur Trauung
    ist Bullrichsalz für die Verdauung!
       - Bullrich-Salz, 1951

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