So I am trying to imagine building a transliterator across languages that takes any language and converts it into IPA or some less-detailed equivalent (like a Romanization). I am thinking about English because it seems like a very hard example. English spelling often times has nothing to do with pronunciation, and you often times need to understand the meaning of the entire expression just to pronounce a word correctly. For example, "I created a tear" could mean "teer" or "tair" depending on what your story is about.
But some other languages (at least from looking at Wikipedia orthography tables) like Sanskrit seem to have strict rules for everything, so you start with consonants and a few vowels, and combine them up to make words. Then every word seems like it can be pronounced purely from the rules of this orthography, without regard to the meaning of the word, or it's placement in an exprssion.
But I don't know that for sure.
My question is, in order to build a robust transliterator across languages, what would be the bare minimum requirements?
- Do you end up needing a dictionary/list of vocabulary words, along with their IPA pronunciation, to do any "realistic" transliteration? That is, it ends up you toss the grammar/orthography rules out the window (they are more guidelines) and instead must use word-by-word pronunciation lists to do it well.
- Or which languages can you be just fine with only working off rules of the orthography/pronunciation? And which ones will you not be fine with (like English)?
Another aspect that might broaden the scope of the question too much, but I thought I'd throw it out there. Somehow we're able to speak with different "accents" (dialects?) and yet still understand each other. Like British vs. American English accents. The orthography is the same for all intents and purposes, but the IPA is different. So that sort of throws a wrench into the mix, you also need to specify what dialect you are speaking in to tell the transliterator how to do the final output, I think.
At this point in my journey I want to throw my hands up in the air and give up saying "you just need a giant database of word-for-word pronunciations, and then to create a mental meaning model, to do transliteration correctly". Ugh, isn't there anything in between that and a direct orthography to pronunciation mapping?
Transcription / Transliteration
Am I going in the right direction...?
Pinyin and Hebrew, for example, seem to be pretty precise. You learn the orthography and you learn how to speak. Is that true? How about of other languages?