Re: New translation posted

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Sun Feb 04 2007 - 14:10:02 CST

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    From: "Jukka K. Korpela" <>
    > The international standard for romanization of Arabic, ISO 233, uses left
    > and right half ring to correspond to certain Arabic consonant letters.
    > Various simple transliteration schemes use often either U+2019 or U+0027
    > for one of them and leave the other out. By doing so, you choose to use
    > characters with multiple semantics instead of specific characters. This
    > might be a practical choice for various reasons, but has a more systematic
    > and less ambiguous alternative, too.

    Afraid or not, those doing that are often using them in a nearly official way (just consider those that are adapting a foreign toponymy using a non-latin script to the latin script; it's not just a transliteration, this is also a better adaptation to respect the original reading phonetic implied by the original script, rather than using a systematic rule which is often just a educated heuristic that works well most of the time, but not always.)

    If, when applying such official transliteration scheme, you get something that can't even be read correctly, then small deviations will often be helpful to better represent the expected phonetic.

    Just consider the similar difficulties that readers of non-latin written languages have when they are exposed to a Latin text with so many ambiguities. They will immediately feel that our writing system is very complicated when their own native script is much easier to read even when one does not know the word (some examples: how to you read 'j' or 'ch', or even a simple 's' between two vowels: there are lots of exceptions, even in English or French! There are also many cases where different words are written exactly the same way, despite they are spelled orally with very distinct phonetic.)

    So we should not be surprised of these adaptations. Each language has its own writing system based on more or less regulated orthographic rules applied on top of a script. Writing foreign words in a local language is more than just transliteration to a language-neutral script (not so neutral, because most often, this transliteration often attempts to be keeping the orthographic rules of the origin language, so this is not a translation).

    Using half-rings for transcripting Arabic to latin is really of academic interest for native Arabic speakers, but it does not work well for others that just need to reference a foreign word unambiguously (notably for tononyms, people names, product titles and trademarks). So even the bilingual users which are native Arabic speakers and educated with proficient literacy in the Latin script will never use these "symbols" (even when handwriting on a blank sheet of paper with a pen, where there's absolutely no problem of "font support" or technical limitations!)

    Remember that the practice of using apostrophes and reversed apostrophes for transcripting Arabic letters predates the recent use of computing technologies (long before they were invented; the use of computers in the general public has only started 20-25 years ago, but the effective adoption by the public occured only 10-12 years ago; in many places, even in advanced countries, people had not used something else than poor terminals because computers were still expensive or not enough performant to allow them work with them for writing their language, except for very few pieces of data). And there are still many places where computers are not available, and printed paper is used instead.

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