Re: Compiling a list of Semitic transliteration characters

From: Jukka K. Korpela <>
Date: Fri, 07 Sep 2012 21:51:16 +0300

2012-09-07 21:16, Richard Wordingham wrote:

>> Some reasons for romanizing:
> <snip>
>> 3. Make the language accessible to those who are not familiar with the
>> script
> The rest of the post is irrelevant. Transliterations from Semitic
> languages have been established for this reason, and possibly because
> of costs of making and setting type.

Those are the key reasons, but there can be other reasons as well. Even
if you can fluently read, say, Arabic letters, an individual word or
phrase in those letters inside a text in Latin letters can look just odd
and distracting. Part of this is that you need to change reading
direction. And it can be difficult to match different writing systems

> One issue at hand is that there is
> not a *single* transliteration to hand, and certainly not a single
> pan-Semitic one. Therefore I strongly doubt that an 8-bit code would
> encompass everything that was needed.

Indeed. Especially the scientific schemes of “transliteration” make
heavy use of diacritics. The schemes used more commonly in newspapers
and general texts tend to use less accurate systems and deploy letter
combinations, so if people think of such schemes only, it may look like
8 bits, or even 7 bits, could be enough.

(“Transliteration” of Semitic languages is mostly transcription, i.e. it
does not simply map letters of original text to letters or letter
combinations in another writing system—it also introduces letters for
short vowel sounds that are normally not written in original texts. The
difference is essential: pure transliteration is a simple,
character-level process, whereas transcription tends to require
information about pronunciation, meaning, and context.)

Received on Fri Sep 07 2012 - 13:53:21 CDT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0 : Fri Sep 07 2012 - 13:53:22 CDT