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Transliteration [and transcription]

From: John Clews <10646er@sesame.demon.co.uk>
Date: Wed, 19 Nov 1997 15:07:05 GMT
Message-Id: <17632@sesame.demon.co.uk>
To: Harald.T.Alvestrand@uninett.no, mgm@sybase.com
Cc: rosenne@NetVision.net.il, Converse@sesame.demon.co.uk, i18n@dkuug.dk, xojig@xopen.co.uk, sc22wg14@dkuug.dk, www-international@w3.org, wgi18n@terena.nl, keld@dkuug.dk
Transliteration and transcription should be distinguished in this
discussion on language codes and script codes. Most people initially
confuse the two.

 - Transliteration is language independent, but script dependent.
 - Transcription is language dependent.

 - Transliteration is representing characters from one script by the
   characters of another script.
 - Transcription is representing the sounds of one language by the
   characters associated with those sounds in another language.
   The source language and target language might or might not use the
   same script.

In many cases, only transliteration is required, often
transliteration is not required, depending on user requirements.

Specifying the current script in use, and/or the current language in
use, may be all that tagging can reasonably be hoped to do (cf. also
Harald Alvestrand's similar recent email on using only the _current_

To quote Tomas Carrasco Benitez Manuel's original email, it is clear that
most of the things refered to below relate to transcription rather than

Carrasco Benitez Manuel <manuel.carrasco@emea.eudra.org> wrote on
Wednesday, 19 Nov 1997:

> 1) Transliteration has to addressed.
> 2) Considering transliteration as language variation is easy from a
> computer point of view: no new mechanisms are needed.
> 3) The comprehensive coding on languages is another problem.
> 4) Three parameters are needed to code transliteration:
>       4.1) Translit : A code to indicate transliteration.
>       4.2) Source : A language code in a language system.  For example,
> "el" for Greek in ISO 639.
>       4.3) Target  : A language code in a language system.  For example,
> "fr" for French in  ISO 639.
> 5)  In an evolution of RFC 1766 could be: t-el-fr
>      where:
>       t   =  Translit.
>       el  = Source.
>       fr  = Target.
> 6) If RFC 1766 moves to a more comprehensive language code system, the
> transliteration could follow.
> 7) Script is only one of the factors.  For example:
>     Papadopoulos : Greek transliteration into French.   Uses the Latin
> script.
>     Papadopulos   : Greek transliteration into Spanish.  Uses the Latin
> script. 
> Regards
> Tomas

The tc46sc2@elot.gr list on transliteration may also be of interest
to some recipients of htis email: there are now over 300 subscribers
to tc46sc2@elot.gr, from 43 countries and territories, providing a
global interest group in this area, covering all the scripts in use
in official languages worldwide, and many scripts no longer in wide
use as well.

If you wish 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

Best wishes

John Clews

Chair of ISO/TC46/SC2: Conversion of Written Languages;
Member of CEN/TC304: Character Set Technology;
Member of ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC2: Character Sets.

SESAME Computer Projects, 8 Avenue Road, Harrogate, HG2 7PG, England
Email: Converse@sesame.demon.co.uk;        tel: +44 (0) 1423 888 432
Received on Wednesday, 19 November 1997 10:38:50 UTC

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