Created By: TropeEater on April 26, 2012 Last Edited By: TropeEater on July 7, 2012

No Transliteration Guide

I know how to spell this word in the alphabet of the original language, but how do I do it in the Latin one?

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A common problem for translators of foreign works is when the original language uses a different alphabet than the one they are translating it into. This means that the viewers might have problems pronouncing any words left as is. This is a very big problem in English, because of ambiguous pronunciations as a result of English's eclectic nature.

For example, take the the Japanese "お" hiragana. It is pronounced like the "O" in English "got". However, this presents a problem as to how to write it in the Latin alphabet so that it will be pronounced correctly by English speakers. If you use "O", they might pronounce it as a long "O". The standard ones used are "Ou" and "Ō". The latter is quite clear, but it's hard to find on the keyboard. The former runs into the same problem as a just plain "O", because it could be pronounced as "Oo" as in "Book", "Ow" as in "How" or "Oe" as in "Hoe". A third option, "Oh" is rarely used not only because it runs into the same problem, but simply because it looks weird.

Languages where the alphabet is pretty much phonetic rarely have this problem, as it's pretty easy to write things if you there aren't any spelling curveballs.

A horr other probrem arises if a word uses a sound not used at arr in the target ranguage. This wirr happen a rot in Engrish to Japanese.
Community Feedback Replies: 10
  • April 26, 2012
    Heh, that last line made me chuckle.

    So I assume this would be a Useful Notes page? Maybe add a "see also" for Why Mao Changed His Name?
  • April 26, 2012
    Not as in "go"; as in "got".
  • April 26, 2012
    As an Useful Note it sounds fine, but I wonder if the following situation also applies to this trope as it stands between this trope, Alternate Character Reading and sometimes Spell My Name With An S.

    Chinese are used to thinking Japanese, Koreans and Vietnamese use Chinese Language-based names. In the past century, however (even longer for the Japanese), these people started to use native language for naming (e.g. the kun-yomi in Japanese and then writing it in kana only). Chinese tend to translate these names, causing multiple names given to the same person.
  • May 6, 2012
    Part of what drives the case of Woolseyism problems as well as views on the Latin alphabet transcription as in the case of the pronunciation English has made complicated rules and changes said symbology from dictionary to dictionary as well as well as regions.

    The Nostalgia Critic makes it one of the issues with Mako [1] and he admits it on the screws up. I may have screwed the adequate Mako so if anyone wants to correct it is welcome.

    Personal experience has dictated me that the symbology is fractionated and as OP said ambiguous pronunciations but what we have here is that makes non English Native speakers have the same issues as English Natives have with other languages. What has been my experience is that symbology changes from dictionaries and reference books as often as the fashion changes in a month and linguists are supposed to get to know each other and in English there are many but many options... I guess you guys get the picture as you will see that if are learning another language and pick 3-5 different X to Y dictionaries and see their symbology.

    Notes on Japanese:
    • Until you see the word stress which differences "ame" rain "ame" candy. But this happens
    • Highly syllabic as the case "so" of sounds as it reads as "so".

    Edit: Seems that I have to find a way to mix the input of the Japanese entry here to further explain.
  • May 6, 2012
    I know French people have a problem pronouncing some famous Russian names because of that... For example, the last soviet leader is transliterated in French as "Gorbatchev", leading to a false pronounciation of the "e dieresis"; it's actually pronounced "Gorbatchyof".

    edit: damnit, the YKTTW doesn't recognise non-latin writing apparently...
  • May 6, 2012
    The same problem also appear for alphabets with variations depending on the languages. In example German beside of the regular letters A-Z also have four special lettersĀŸ, while Danish have three other, and Swedish have some in common with both. To complicate it even more the way those letter are usually transliterated are not always how they should be read.

    Unfortunately YKTTW don't know those letters either, so I can't show examples here.
  • May 6, 2012
    Arabic is also notorious for that.
  • May 7, 2012
    ^^ html code works fine. & auml ; written together, yields ä, uuml is ü, ouml is ö, Auml gives Ä and so on. Unfortunately I don't remember the codenames of the Danish and Swedish o/a but hey, Google is your friend.
  • July 7, 2012
    ALT + number pad?
  • July 7, 2012
    ^ Inserting raw characters, as Unicode, ISO-8859-*, CP-1252 or some other way are all unworkable here. They will work fine on the wiki itself, though.

    ^^ Are you thinking of ø &o slash; or å &a ring;?

    Another trouble with transliteration is that even countries with latin characters use different pronunciation, so a transliteration that makes sense for one language does not necessarily make it so for another language.