A youthful fascination

I’m rereading The Lord of the Rings at the moment and I realised that wrestling with Tolkien’s alphabets is what gave me the fascination with alphabets that I still have.


I started writing a note on transliteration for work; wonder how much of it will survive to livejournal posting?



A.            Albanian


Ë and ë are written E and e in our reports; Ç and ç are written C and c. Otherwise Albanian spelling is used. [Note on forms of words with definite article? In general I suppose we use Tirana rather than Tiranë?]


Note: Care must be taken when using Albanian proper names found in Serbian or Macedonian sources. There is a strong risk of double transliteration producing an inaccurate spelling – eg the common Albanian surname Hoxha is written Хоџа in Serbian and Macedonia, which is then transliterated back into Latin as Hodža (and printed in our reports as Hodza, so even further from the original).


B.           Azeri


ə and ə are written A and a in our reports; Ç and ç are written C and and ğ are written G and is written I and ı is written and ö are written O and and ş are written S and and ü are written U and u.


But we rewrite the Azeri letters Q and q as G and g, and the letters X and x as Kh and kh.


C.           Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian


The standard transliteration from Cyrillic to Latin will be used in our reports, subject to the following modifications:


Č and Ć are written as C, and č and ć as c in our reports. Đ and đ are written as Dj and dj. Š and š are written S and s. Ž and ž are written Z and z.


An exception is made for names which are Russian or Bulgarian, in which case the standard English transcriptions for those languages are used – most importantly, Ш and ш become Sh and shЧ and ч become Ch and chЦ and ц become Ts and ts (not C and and ж become Zh and zhЕ and е are often Ye and ye.


In Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian, proper names of companies and organisations normally capitalise only the first letter (eg Međunarodna krizna grupa). When such a name is used in an English language report we retain the original capitalisation. [Actually I’m not sure about this. It is clearer to the average Anglophone reader if all words in the name are capitalised.]


D.           Georgian


, and are all written as K or k in our reports. and are both written Ch or ch. and are both written as P or p. and are both written as T or t. and are both written Ts or ts. is written Dz or dz. is written Gh or gh. is written Sh or sh. is written Zh or zh. is written Kh or kh. is written J or j.


There are no capital letters in Georgian. We follow English language conventions for capitalisation.


It may be necessary to check the correct English spelling of non-Georgian names found in Georgian media reports. There are risks of triple transliteration (ie via Russian and Georgian).


E.            Macedonian


The standard transliteration is used as for Serbian. Ѓ and ѓ should normally be written Gj and gj, and Ќ and ќ as Kj and kj, except if the name is clearly of Serbian origin in which case dj and c should be used. Ѕ and ѕ as far as I know are always transliterated Dz and dz.


See also notes under Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian about Russian/Bulgarian names and compound proper names.


F.            Romanian (Moldovan)


Our reports in English do not use diacritical marks. The obvious modifications are therefore made to Ă/ă, Â/â, Î/î, Ş/ş and Ţ/ţ.

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1 Response to A youthful fascination

  1. uvula_fr_b4 says:

    I read the first of the three Modern Library volumes of Gibbon over 15 years ago; I keep meaning to go back to it after I’ve read enough supplemental stuff to give me a bit more confidence.

    Vol. 1 of Livy (Oxford World’s Classics edition) kind of shook rather than stiffened that particular resolve.

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