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Transliteration standards: possible impact on internationalization

From: John Clews <Converse@sesame.demon.co.uk>
Date: Fri, 14 Nov 1997 11:13:34 GMT
Message-Id: <16986@sesame.demon.co.uk>
To: i18n@dkuug.dk, xojig@xopen.co.uk, sc22wg14@dkuug.dk
Cc: www-international@w3.org, wgi18n@terena.nl, keld@dkuug.dk
Transliteration standards: possible impact on internationalization

Those involved in developing or using internationalization standards,
may find the following information of use, particularly as
ISO/TC46/SC2 standards on transliteration provide one possible
information source on multilingual sorting, and also provides
additional information on how specific scripts are used.

Letter equivalances in transliteration standards may also provide
information about possible keyboard equivalnces, that may be of use
in designing possible non-latin keyboard layouts.

In addition, ISO/TC46/SC2 also changed the scope of ISO/TC46/SC2/WG8
to cover Transliteration and Computers at its last plenary meeting at
the British Standards Institution in Chiswick, London, from 12-14 May

I am interested in any participation that those of you involved n
Internationalization activities
may be able to provide, either in meetings or
electronically, given your own necessary involvment in the
multilingual use of computers.

I am also happy to provided more information about standards in this
area: more information about the scope of work of ISO/TC46/SC2, and
about electronic resources relating to ISO/TC46/SC2, are provided

Needs for transliteration standards

Despite computing standards like ISO/IEC 10646 and Unicode, there
will always be a need for transliteration as long as people do not
have the same level of competence in all scripts besides the script
used in their mother-tongue, and may have a need to deal with these
languages, or when they have to deal with mechanical or computerised
equipment which does not provide all the scripts of characters that
they need.

The secretary (Evangelos Melagrakis from Greece) and I intend to make
transliteration and ISO/TC46/SC2 far more visible and far more
relevant to end users than it has been in the past. To enable this,
an electronic mailing list for ISO/TC46/SC2 (tc46sc2@elot.gr) and an
associated Web site (located at www.elot.gr/tc46sc2) has now been set
up by ELOT (the Greek national standards body). We hope this list
will attract researchers and scientists who can add useful
information which might assist in developing standards on the
Conversion of Written Languages.

Scope of transliteration work in ISO/TC46/SC2's working groups.

[WG1:] Transliteration of Cyrillic (work now combined with that of WG5)
[WG2:] Transliteration of Arabic (work now combined with that of WG11)
 WG3:  Transliteration of Hebrew
 WG4:  Transliteration of Korean
 WG5:  Transliteration of Greek, Armenian, Georgian and Cyrillic
 WG6:  Transliteration of Chinese
 WG7:  Transliteration of Japanese
 WG8:  Transliteration and computers
 WG9:  Transliteration of Thai
 WG10: Transliteration of Mongolian
 WG11: Transliteration of Perso-Arabic script
 WG12: Transliteration of Indic scripts


NB: to avoid distortion, resize your viewer/printer if the word
"origins" in the above line is not at the end of a line, and view or
print with a fixed pitch font (Courier at 12 point or smaller is

   Latin   Cyrillic                Devanagari - - - Tibetan
      \     /                   /  Gujarati
       \   / - Armenian        /   Bengali           _ Mongolian
        \ /                   /    Gurumukhi        /
       Greek - Georgian      /     Oriya      * SOGDIAN    Chinese
         |                  /                   SCRIPT    /
         |                 /       Telugu                /
   * PHOENICIAN       * BRAHMI - - Kannada     * SINITIC - Japanese
    /  SCRIPT  \        SCRIPT     Malayalam      SCRIPT \
   /     |      \          \       Tamil                  \
Hebrew   |      Arabic      \                              Korean
         |        \          \ - - Sinhala
         |                    \
         |          \          \ _ Burmese
         |                      \  Khmer
         |            \          \
      Ethiopic     Divehi         \ _ Thai
     (Ethiopia,   (Maldives)          Lao

* PHOENICIAN, BRAHMI, SOGDIAN and SINITIC scripts are no longer in
  use as such, but all other scripts listed above (used in 99% of the
  world's languages) can trace their ancestry back to these. The East
  Asian scripts listed above have a slightly more complex link:
  Chinese characters (hanzi in Chinese) still use similar shapes to
  the Sinitic characters used around 1200 BC.

  The Japanese and Korean scripts use Chinese characters (kanji in
  Japanese) together with their own phonetic script (kana in
  Japanese). Korean now often uses only the phonetic script (hangul)
  without using Chinese characters (hanja).

  Scripts not used at state level, and other historical scripts,
  are not shown above.

To join the list, send an email to


with this message in the body of the text:

        subscribe tc46sc2 your@email.address

(but with your real email address replacing the string

To find out further commands you can use, send the command "help" as
the text of an email either to tc46sc2-request@elot.gr or to:
majordomo@elot.gr To unsubscribe, send the command "unsubscribe"
instead, omitting the "quotes" marks in both cases. This will tell
you how to obtain copies of past messages etc., and other useful

Once you are subscribed, you can send messages to tc46sc2@elot.gr and
receive messages from other members of the list. Please reply where
possible to the list as a whole, so that all can benefit: using the
Group Reply function (pressing G on some email software) is the
simplest way to achieve this.

Other members will also be interested to see who else is joining the
list, so it is useful to send a brief introduction (say, one or two
short paragraphs) to tc46sc2@elot.gr at the outset, saying what
languages, scripts and other things you are involved in. That is the
most likely way to stimulate others to write on the subjects you are
interested in!

I look forward to seeing new participants on this list. Please feel
free to forward this to anyone else who may be interested in
transliteration standardisation issues, and to send any queries about
the list to me.

                             Yours sincerely

                     John Clews and Evangelos Melagrakis

(Chair & Secretary of ISO/TC46/SC2: Conversion of Written Languages)

J. Clews, SESAME, 8 Avenue Road, Harrogate, HG2 7PG, England
Email: Converse@sesame.demon.co.uk;   tel: +44 (0) 1423 888 432

E. Melagrakis, ELOT, 313 Acharnon Str., GR-111 45 Athens, Greece
Email: eem@elot.gr                           tel: +30 1 201 9890
Received on Friday, 14 November 1997 08:00:07 UTC

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