Re: Compiling a list of Semitic transliteration characters

From: Naena Guru <>
Date: Fri, 7 Sep 2012 13:12:41 -0500

Thank you Phillip, so, what did you say?

On Fri, Sep 7, 2012 at 8:58 AM, Philippe Verdy <> wrote:

> 2012/9/7 Leif Halvard Silli <>:
> > The word "Roman", can also refer to "Greek". So it is best to avoid
> > that term. ;-)
> The Roman empire was speaking a large set of languages (and writing in
> various scripts) from Europe to Asia and Africa, even if Latin was
> used in Rome, and written in the Latin script (but not only).
> But the conventional meaning of "romanisation" is that it is a
> transcription to the Latin script (independantly of the target
> language).
> The concept of transliteration, rather than transcription, is in fact
> quite new in human history : the initial need was just to write how
> languages were pronounced, with more or less approximations, to match
> the way another language is written, read and pronounced (in the
> target phonology). So a transcription has always been lossy.
> But the real difference between transcription and transliteration is
> for another role : a transliteration attempts to preserve the maximum
> of the source language phonology and meaning, avoiding most
> ambiguities. So a transliteration occurs within the same language. A
> translietteration scheme is created when a language starts changing
> its standard script in some area. But even in that case it is
> extremely rare that this conversion will be lossless : there are
> frequent adaptation of the orthography, and some historic
> orthographies in the original script (such as mute letters or more
> frequently letters whose current phonology has changed considerably so
> that the original orthography in the source script is already far away
> from the actually spoken language, or because some historic
> distinctions are no longer heard and the transliteration scheme is
> representing the letters the same way : N-to-1 is then frequent as
> well).
> For some pairs or scripts, it is impossible to be 1-to-1, because the
> scripts work very differently : alphabets are not like abjads or
> akharas, and not like ideographic scripts. So adaptation is
> unavoidable. When a language changes its standard script, there is
> also very frequently an orthographic reform on the new script, so even
> the rules of transliterations contain a lot of new exceptions, to
> match the new orthography. When this change of script is just
> motivated to ease the learning of the language by people that are
> better aware of another script, the transliteration rules will often
> be more strict. It will be much stricter if this change of script is
> motivated by technical reasons (but people are generally not very well
> trained on how to make this conversion, so they will each one use
> their own transliteration scheme, to approximate the language.
> For this reason, the distinction between lossy and lossless is not
> very relevant to make the distinction between a traditional
> transcription and a "modern" transliteration. My opinion if that the
> simplest conversions that try to avoid most ambiguities are just named
> "transliteration" and they occur within the same language in the same
> region. Transcriptions are more traditional and instead on focusing on
> the source language, they try to best approximate the phonology of
> another language in its current common orthography.
> Different needs, different rules, but even in both cases the rules are
> not followed exactly. None of them are lossless. But the distinction
> is there. There's no clearly defined separation line between
> transliteration schemes and transcription schemes. except by their
> intent to preserve a source language or best approximate another one.
> So the stadnard conversion of Chinese from Han ideographs to Bopomofo
> or Latin (with the Piyin standard) could be called "translierations"
> even if there's by evidence a lot of losses. Same thing about Romaji
> in Japanese. And even for Korean the standard conversion from the
> Hangul alphabet to Latin creates some ambiguities and is a bit lossy.
> Note also that a transcription also occurs within the same script :
> when you adapt an orthography to use other letters than in the
> original orthography, this is not a transliteration. For example when
> you transcript French to an English context, you'll commonly convert
> "ou" into "oo", or will disambiguate some "s" into "z", or some "c"
> into "k" or "s". The intent is to tell English native speakers how to
> read a word written in another language (e.g. you say that the French
> word "paille" should be read like the English "pie". This is not a
> transliteration but a transcription).
> As well, when you convert the language into a phonetic alphabet like
> IPA, the process is definitely not a transliteration but a
> transcription, even if this occurs within the same Latin script (many
> people are arguing that IPA is not part of the Latin script as it does
> not contain "letters", but "symbols", and it is monocameral and it
> cannot follow the common typographic rules, in addition to the fact
> that it borrows symbols from Greek letters and adds new specific
> symbols plus many new diacritics) !
Received on Fri Sep 07 2012 - 13:15:55 CDT

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