84 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 "...
  • 55.6k
25 votes
Accepted

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 (...
  • 2,715
24 votes
Accepted

Why was the name תאומא transliterated as Θωμᾶς (Thomas) rather than Τωμᾶς (Tomas)?

It is because, at least in the later borrowings, Semitic ṭ ט is regularly represented by τ [t], while t ת is represented by θ [th]. It has to do with the fact that the Semitic emphatics are ...
  • 22.8k
14 votes
Accepted

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,...
  • 2,715
13 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 ...
  • 71.5k
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 ...
  • 1,159
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 ...
11 votes
Accepted

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 ...
  • 1,010
10 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 ...
10 votes
Accepted

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 ...
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 ...
  • 55.6k
9 votes
Accepted

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 ...
  • 55.6k
8 votes
Accepted

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. ...
  • 55.6k
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 ...
  • 55.6k
7 votes
Accepted

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 ...
  • 22.8k
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 ...
  • 55.6k
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 ...
  • 71.5k
6 votes

Why "Kampuchea" → "Cambodia"?

The name in English (as used in the media) started as Cambodia, and changed briefly during the 70's and 80's after the fall of the Lon Nol government. The name "Kampuchea" went the way of the Khmer ...
  • 71.5k
6 votes
Accepted

What are the IPA equivalents for the special characters used to transscribe indian words?

In the Wikipedia article on Sanskrit you can find all those special characters together with their IPA counterparts. By the way, these special characters are parts of the IAST, the International ...
  • 16.6k
6 votes
Accepted

When transliterating English words to Korean, why does the first F become a ㅎ?

Korean has no /f/ sound (unvoiced labiodental fricative), so it has to approximate it with a sound it does have. There are two possibilities. ㅍ is a labial plosive that is heavily aspirated. The ...
  • 1,484
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 ...
  • 1,753
6 votes
Accepted

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 ...
  • 55.6k
6 votes
Accepted

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 ...
  • 2,209
6 votes
Accepted

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 ...
6 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 ...
  • 22.8k
5 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 (...
  • 51
5 votes

When transliterating English words to Korean, why does the first F become a ㅎ?

Kang, Kenstowicz & Ito observe that treatment of [f] is a bit more variable. They say that direct loans from English have [pʰ] ([pʰodɨ] "Ford"), but ultimately English-based loans can also come ...
  • 71.5k
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, ...
5 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" ...
  • 55.6k
5 votes
Accepted

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'...
  • 55.6k

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