+44 20 80501535


Transliteration means the letter-for-letter transfer of a text from one writing system to another, for example from the Russian to the Latin alphabet. The term transliteration is composed of the Latin words ‘trans’ (across) and ‘littera’ (letter). With this method, diacritical marks such as dots, dashes or circles help to ensure that a clear reversal is possible.

Need a translation?

Transliteration in linguistics

Transliteration occurs, for example, when a text that is in Cyrillic, Japanese or Russian script is translated into Latin script. The individual characters are transmitted in a letter-perfect and unambiguous manner. This is possible because each character of one alphabetic writing system is assigned exactly one character of another alphabetic writing system. If the source system contains more characters than the target system, diacritics or a combination of several characters are usually used in the transcription.

Characters in transliteration

When diacritics are used in transliteration, it is usually to represent sounds that do not occur in the target alphabet. These can be dots or dashes on the one hand, but also letters such as “í”, “é”, “õ”, letter combinations such as “tsch” or diagraphs such as “nh”, “rh”, “gh”. Special knowledge is needed to read such a transliteration, as there are often several ways of transliterating a sound.

Difference: transliteration and transcription

Transcription is not a synonym of transliteration, although it is sometimes used as such. Transcription is the pronunciation-based representation of speech and is primarily intended to enable non-native speakers to pronounce a word mostly correctly. A phonetically defined phonetic transcription is used for the transcription. Transliteration, on the other hand, is when a word’s spelling is transferred directly into another writing system. Unlike transcription, transliteration aims at complete reversibility, which it does not always achieve.

Load more

FAQ: More questions about transliteration

What is a transcription?

Transcription is the transfer of the words of one script into another. A distinction is made between transcription and transliteration.

What does transliteration mean?

Transliteration is a method of transferring words from one writing system to another in a literal manner.

What is the difference between transliteration and transcription?

While transliteration means the writing-based transfer of a word into another writing system, transcription is intended to enable the correct pronunciation of the word.

What should be considered when transliterating?

Not every writing system contains the same number of characters. In order to be able to transfer words into another script, so-called diacritical marks are used.

What is the purpose of transliteration in translations?

Transliteration merely means the transfer of words into another script, whereas translation also transfers the meaning.

This site is registered on wpml.org as a development site.