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85 votes

Why do English transliterations of Arabic names have so many Qs in them?

In Arabic, in fact, they've always been separate sounds! The sound we write "K" is spelled with the letter ك in Arabic, and is pronounced a little bit further forward in the mouth; the sound we write "...
Draconis's user avatar
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25 votes
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Why did some Hebrew words beginning with Yod become transliterated into Latin as "hi?"

Greek had the /h/ phoneme only at the beginning of a word, and it was marked with a diacritic (rough breathing sign) rather than with a letter. Koine Greek lost the /h/ phoneme and early manuscripts (...
b a's user avatar
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17 votes
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Why is "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani" transliterated with a Chi in Matthew and Mark?

The Aramaic word שבקתני would probably have been pronounced /ʃabaqtani/. Usually, as you note, the /q/ of Aramaic is transliterated as κ, so σαβακθανι /sabaktʰani/ would be expected. However, in Greek,...
b a's user avatar
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14 votes

Why do English transliterations of Arabic names have so many Qs in them?

I was going to propose Julius Klaproth, in his 1823 book Asia Polyglotta. He notates the difference between ك and ق as k versus q. In earlier works such as Hamer 1806 Ancient alphabets both were ...
user6726's user avatar
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13 votes

Why do English transliterations of Arabic names have so many Qs in them?

The answer to this question has multiple layers. Draconis has already noted that the two sounds are distinct (phonemic) in Arabic and user6726 has added that the convention of writing one using k and ...
Jan's user avatar
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13 votes

Excepting Romanian, is "Wales" ever translated/transliterated in modern languages with the same term as that meaning "Gaul" or "Gauls"?

This may sound weird, but it's not. Well, in fact, it is very weird indeed. –– With equal right one might say that Romania should correctly be called Wales. –– If that joke is lost on you, read the ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
12 votes

Why the words for pineapple sound so similar in Hebrew and in German?

Ananas is not from Hebrew. It is from a South American language, Old Tupi, from the same area where the fruit is native – the Amazon rainforest, not the Middle East. Tupi natives called the fruit ...
melissa_boiko's user avatar
12 votes

Why do so many loan words have a different pronunciations of letters like X and Q (among others)?

In the end, nobody gets to decide except the people who do the writing! When a lot of people start doing something the same way, it eventually becomes a convention. The convention in English used to ...
Draconis's user avatar
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11 votes
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Why does IAST exist when IPA is there?

IPA and IAST serve different purposes, as their respective names already suggest. IPA is an alphabet for phonetic rendering of speech (in the broad sense). To use it on Sanskrit we would have to agree ...
zwiebel's user avatar
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10 votes
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Using Polish-inspired z Digraphs for Czech, Slovak

No, it is not acceptable and it is never done. It used to be done before the changes that appeared gradually in the 15th century, inspired by a paper most likely written by Jan Hus around 1400. Before ...
Vladimir F Героям слава's user avatar
9 votes

Why is it that Babylonian king names do not match their Akkadian equivalent?

This comes down to the ambiguities in the Cuneiform script. Cuneiform doesn't have a one-to-one correspondence between signs and sounds. The sign DIŊIR is a good example. The sign started out in ...
Draconis's user avatar
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9 votes
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How do we know for sure a transliteration is lossless?

A transliteration system is usually either designed to be lossless, or not. To know whether it is or not, you have to know the target language. Lossless transliteration systems generally have to use ...
Draconis's user avatar
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8 votes
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Why is there no standard romanization scheme for Arabic?

The problem isn't no standard—the problem is too many standards! There are at least a dozen competing systems for romanization of Arabic, all mutually incompatible, all used for different purposes. ...
Draconis's user avatar
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8 votes

Why the words for pineapple sound so similar in Hebrew and in German?

Melissa and user6726 addressed the word Ananas quite nicely. But to respond to this part of your question: Since Hebrew should be older than German as it was spoken Adam and Eve and there should be ...
Draconis's user avatar
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7 votes
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How are cuneiform glyphs numbered?

In theory, the signs with the lowest index numbers are the most frequent. In practice, the numbers were assigned when the pronunciation of signs were first identified. For example, after u1, u2, u3 ...
fdb's user avatar
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7 votes

What is the point of transliteration that needs transliteration? Specifically, Mesoamerican languages

For some of these languages, it's not transliteration, it's just how the language is written! Very few Mesoamerican languages were ever written in anything except the Latin alphabet, and nowadays it's ...
Draconis's user avatar
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7 votes

What is the point of transliteration that needs transliteration? Specifically, Mesoamerican languages

Transliteration is converting letters of one alphabet to those of another: you can transliterate Latin into Arabic, Arabic into Ge'ez, Ge'ez into Devanagari and Devanagari into Cyrillic. You don't ...
user6726's user avatar
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7 votes

What is Ś in Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform?

ś is the conventional transliteration for Hebrew שׂ ( śīn ), and is used also for its Semitic source, now more usually transcribed as s₂. It is believed that Old Akkadian (at least) still retained ...
fdb's user avatar
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6 votes

Why is "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani" transliterated with a Chi in Matthew and Mark?

Like everything in the Bible, this is the subject of an enormous mass of scholarly and non-scholarly literature. The question at issue here is whether Jesus is supposed to be speaking Hebrew or ...
fdb's user avatar
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6 votes

Verifying these resources are accurate written representations for each language using Latin script

Xhosa, Zulu, Swahili, Yoruba, Kele, and the vast majority of other Bantu (and Niger-Congo) languages are written in the Latin script. The ones in the south that have clicks tend to use the "spare" ...
Draconis's user avatar
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6 votes

Are there any existing guidelines for romanizing Aynu Itak?

The de facto standard method for transcribing Ainu (both in Latin alphabet and in katakana) being used today is the one proposed in Akor Itak, a textbook published by the Hokkaido Utari Association (...
ski's user avatar
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6 votes

How to transliterate the following Arabic letters in English

There are several transcription systems from Arabic into Latin letters. Wikipedia provides a comparison table of several transcription systems in one place. You need to decide yourself which system ...
michau's user avatar
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6 votes
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What is the purpose of transliteration?

The words "transliteration" and "transcription" are often used interchangeably. If you want to draw a distinction between them, the distinction is usually that "transliteration" tries to encode the ...
Draconis's user avatar
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6 votes
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Is Hebrew a language which can be transliterated programmatically according to a small set of clear rules?

First we have to decide which Hebrew we're talking about. Biblical Hebrew can certainly be transliterated programmatically, since Medieval scribes augmented the writing system to include ...
Luke Sawczak's user avatar
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6 votes
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How do you decode the CELT transcriptions?

Most of these aren’t CELT-specific, but commonly used in manuscript editions everywhere. MS is a common English abbreviation for manuscript. The Latin is part of the manuscript. A very large ...
Janus Bahs Jacquet's user avatar
5 votes

What languages are the most similar to English?

I am myself a native speaker of Bengali. I also learned English at a very young age. I am really surprised at your comment, "Since I was a small child in a bilingual home I've been struck by how, ...
Arjun Janah's user avatar
5 votes
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How to transliterate/transcribe/romanize Ancient Egyptian

(Foreword: if you want to be pedantic, this will be a transcription or a bound transcription, representing the phonemes as best we can, but not necessarily representing the orthography.) The list you'...
Draconis's user avatar
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5 votes

What is the purpose of transliteration?

One can actually read a transliterated text. Hardly possible with a sequence of Unicode numeric codes. If you want the most exact replication of the text, then even Unicode might not be "best" (your ...
Vladimir F Героям слава's user avatar
5 votes

How to build a robust transliteration scheme across languages?

There is a major difference between transliteration and transcription. Transcription is a thing that field workers do when they listen to a language and write down what they hear, assuming some system ...
user6726's user avatar
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5 votes
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How are the Ogham stones inscribed?

Since you talk about the "original" Irish people, I'm going to assume you mean the original inventors of the script, who spoke an early Q-Celtic language in the fourth century CE. (Also note that ...
Draconis's user avatar
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