Transcription and Transliteration

The rewriting or conversion of the characters of a text from one writing system to another writing system is called transcription or transliteration. For instance, it is possible to transform a text consisting of Cyrillic, Japanese or Greek letters to the Latin writing system. Often the transformation of other characters to the Latin writing system is called romanization or latinization. Of course, also the reverse way is possible, namely the conversion of a Latin text to another writing system. Transcriptions are used, for instance, to make a writing system, illegible for one reader, readable by using other characters or to translate proper names in another writing system.

The following summary shows step by step, how to arrange such a conversion rapidly and easily, it defines the difference between transliterations and transcriptions and explains all important things apart from that. As software, the Text Converter is used, with which you can apply conversions at many files at the same time. The Text Converter supports many transcriptions and transliterations on its own, which can be assigned with only one click. Furthermore, it is also possible to create any customized conversion with own rules or edit the pre-defined ones, to convert texts.

The summary is devided into the following sections. You can simply click on the name of one of the sections to jump to this part of the text.

Difference between Transcription and Transliteration

A transcription is the conversion of the characters of one language to the characters of another language in accordance with the pronunciation of the target language. Hence, other rules, depending on the target language (e.g. German or English), for one and the same source language can be used. An advantage of the transcription is, that everybody speaking the target language can also read the converted words of the source language correctly. A disadvantage is, that a transcription often can not be inverted clearly. The Text Converter supports, for example, Cyrillic transcription rules for English and German.

In contrast, in the transliteration, each character of the source language is assigned to a different unique character of the target language, so that an exact inversion is possible. If the source language consists of more characters than the target language, combinations of characters (for example KA for Hiragana か) and diacritica (for example Š for Cyrillic Щ) can be used. Although in the transliteration, the pronunciation is not as important as in the transcription, it is often possible to recognize the pronunciation by the used character. The Text Converter supports some transliterations according to ISO standards, for example Cyrillic-Latin (ISO 9), Arabic-Latin(ISO 233), Hebrew-Latin(ISO 259), Greek-Latin(ISO 843), Japanese-Latin(ISO 3602), Georgic-Latin(ISO 9984) and Thai-Latin (ISO 11940).

It follows that the difference between transcription and transliteration is that the transcription reflects the phonetic articulation of words, thus like the words are pronouced. By contrast, the transliteration is used when a word is transfered from one writing system to another writing system. The Arabic word كتب for books would therefore be "kataba" in the transcription and "ktb" in the transliteration.

Default Transliterations

In the Text Converter, you can easily apply some well-known transliterations. After opening some files, just click on "Transcription and Transliteration" in the column "Actions" on the right side of the main window. Here you can choose the transliteration in the box "Profiles". After clicking on a text file in the file list (input area of the software), you should immediately see the results of your transliteration, which you can save now.

The following transliterations can be done with the Text Converter. With the option "Invert Transcription", you can carry out a re-transliteration. For instance, with this function it is possible to transliterate from Cyrillic to Latin instead of Latin to Cyrillic. Please note, that often not every Latin character has a correspondence in the target writing system, so that this character will be left. If you do not want to have this problem, you should use a transcription with full Latin alphabet support (see next section). But a disadvantage of this will be, that it is often not possible to invert such a transcription clearly.

Default Transcriptions

The transcriptions can be applied in the same way like the transliterations in the Text Converter. After adding some files, simply go to the action "Transcription and Transliteration" and select your desired transcription in the box "Profiles". The result of the inscription should already be visible in the preview now.

The following transcriptions can be selected in the Text Converter. Because in some writing systems there are no unique equivalents for each single Latin character (for example often letters like Q or X do not happen), other writings are used (for example KS for X), to make it possible to transcript all 26 letters of the Latin alphabet. Often this can distort the meaning a little bit and of course, it can lead to equivocality. If you do not want to have this problems, you should use one of the transliterations (previous section). Then, there are not this problems, but often not all characters can be transformed.

Customized Transcriptions

Behind the transcriptions and transliterations introduced in the last two sections, which can be applied with only one click in the Text Converter, it is also possible to create and use any customised transcriptions. These transcriptions can be managed under "Transcription and Transliteration > Customize", where you can also change and edit the existing profiles. When working with customised profiles, you have to take into account the following things:

Considering these points, you can fastly and simply create your own transcriptions, for example for individual purposes or for completely different writing systems, because all Unicode characters are supported by the Text Converter. If you create a list in the Text Converter, this list will be visible in the profiles after saving the list with "Save". The predefined transcriptions can not be changed as such, so you have to save these lists as new ones, if you want to change them. For that you can simply write a new name in the box, in which you can select the profiles. Under this name, the new or the changed profile is saved in the directory "Transliteration".

Another possibility offers the function "Inverse List" in the same window. With this function it is possible to immediately inverse the complete list, to be able to create a changed re-transciption. The rule "A|B" becomes the rule "B|A". If you should have created a very important transcription, you are welcome to send us this list for the publication in the next version of the Text Converter.