RE: Unicode Transliteration Guidelines released

From: Peter Constable (
Date: Thu Jan 31 2008 - 10:06:00 CST

  • Next message: David Weinberg: "Re: Unicode Transliteration Guidelines released"

    > From: [] On
    > Behalf Of William J Poser

    > I second Ken's view. "transliteration" simply does not have the
    > narrow definitions that several people on this list attribute to it,
    > whatever ideas may have sprung up about this in some engineering
    > circles... In my experience, the
    > term "transliteration" is used for a wide variety of mappings from
    > one writing system to another, not restricted to bijections. To be
    > blunt, several of you have no idea what you are talking about.

    In fairness, we all know that the sense(s) of a word can vary by usage context, and also by sub-community. For some English speakers, "coke" means any variety of sweet, carbonated beverage while for others it means a specific variety. There certainly is widespread usage of "transliteration" to mean a wide variety of mappings from one writing system to another. There are, however, also usage contexts in which "transliteration" is limited to bijections. In particular, in ISO TC46 standards the term is used in a sense limited to bijections. See, for example (emphasis added):

    "Transliteration is the process which consists of representing the characters (1) of an alphabetical or syllabic system of writing by the characters of a conversion alphabet, this being the easiest way to ensure the **complete and unambiguous reversibility** of the conversion alphabet in the converted system."

    I do consider that to be the marked usage and that the less restricted sense is more common. But it's a bit too strong to say that people who assume the restricted sense of the term don't have any idea what they're talking about.


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