Transliteration / Romanization of names:

(updated 3 december 2006)
With names not written in roman characters, there is always a problem of how to deal with 
the transliteration of names. There are always several ways and which one do you choose? 
I try to give here an overview of the way I romanize names. (i.e. when I know the original name)

  • Cyrillic
  • Korean
  • Japanese
  • Chinese
  • Links



  • Cyrillic

    For the cyrillic script the romanization can be done by using a simple table. I don't use the ISO table, but I used the following table: (not complete, but the ones I used are in here. ISO means ISO 9:1995)
    Capital А Б В Г Д Е Ж З И Й К Л М Н О П Р С Т У Ф Х Ц Ч Ш Щ Ъ Ы Ь Э Ю Я Ё
    Small а б в г д е ж з и й к л м н о п р с т у ф х ц ч ш щ ъ ы ь э ю я ё
    ISO a b v g d e ž z i j k l m n o p r s t u f h c č š ŝ " y ' è û â ë
    I use a b v g d e zj z i j k l m n o p r s t u f ch ts tsj sj stsj - y -/j e ju ja jo
    Some Ukrainian additions:
    Capital Є І
    Small є i
    ISO ê ì
    I use e i
    Notes:
  • The cyrillic character е has in many cases a je pronunciation, e.g. as first character of a word or after a vowel. I chose to always replace е by e. e.g.: Николай Гуляев -> Nikolaj Guljaev (and not Nikolaj Guljajev)
  • Note that some transliteratopm of previous Soviet-Union names look different now using the Ukrainian names. e.g.: Вера Брындзей (Russian/USSR) -> Вiра Бриндзей (Ukrainian) -> Vira Brindzej (and not Vera Bryndzej)



  • Korean

    In Korea there are two sets of characters, the hanja and hangeul. The hanja characters are the ones 'imported' from the Chinese. The
    hangeul (or choseoneogeul in North Korea) is a phonetic system consisting of jamo which can be romanized using the following tables. These tables are based on the McCune-Reischauer romanization.


    Vowel table:

    Korean
    MR a ya ŏ o yo u yu ŭ i wa ae e oe wi ŭi wae we yae ye
    I use a ya eo yeo o yo u yu eu i wa weo ae e oe wi ui wae we yae ye
    For the consonants the pronunciation depends on the consonants following or preceding it. Simplified consonant table (For most proper names this table is sufficient):
                           Final
      Initial
    * K N T (R) M P S CH CH' K' T' P' H
    K G KK NGN KT NGN NGM KP KS KCH KCH' KK' KT' KP' KH
    N N N'G NN ND LL NM NB NS NJ NCH' NK' NT' NP' NH
    L R LG LL LT LL LM LB LS LCH LCH' LK' LT' LP' RH
    M M MG MN MD MN MM MB MS MJ MCH' MK' MT' MP' MH
    P B PK MN PT MN MM PP PS PCH PCH' PK' PT' PP' PH
    NG NG NGG NGN NGD NGN NGM NGB NGS NGJ NGCH' NGK' NGT' NGP' NGH

    The modernization of this system have been used since 2000 and are introduced to mainly simplify romanization for foreigners. The main changes are the elimination of the diacritics (', ŏ and ŭ) and not to follow the exact pronunciation anymore, but using a more one-to-one romanization. E.g. using this new system. becomes J and becomes CH. (조민희 becomes Jo Min-hyi instead of Cho Min-hŭi) In the new situation the same (abbreviated) table looks easier:
                           Final
      Initial
    * G N D (R) M B S J CH K T P H
    K G KG NGN KD NGN NGM KB KS KJ KCH KK KT KP KH
    N N NG NN ND NN,LL NM NB NS NJ NCH NK NT NP NH
    L R LG LL LD LL LM LB LS LJ LCH LK LT LP LH
    M M MG MN MD MN MM MB MS MJ MCH MK MT MP MH
    P B PG MN PD MN MM PB PS PJ PCH PK PT PP PH
    NG NG NGG NGN NGD NGN NGM NGB NGS NGJ NGCH NGK NGT NGP NGH

    The following is the table of the 20 most common Korean names: Hangeul [Hanja] 21.6% 김 [金] Kim (Khym, Kimm, Ghim) 14.8% 이 [李] Li (Lee, Yi, Rhee) 8.5% 박 [朴] Pak (Park, Bhak) 4.7% 최 [崔] Choi (Choe, Chwe) 4.4% 정 [鄭,丁] Jeong (Chung, Jung, Chong) 2.1% 강 [姜,康] Kang (Khang) 2.1% 조 [趙,曺] Jo (Cho) 2.1% 윤 [尹] Yun (Yoon) 2.0% 장 [張] Jang (Chang) 1.7% 임 [林] Lim (Yim, Im, Em) 1.6% 한 [韓] Han (Hahn) 1.5% 오 [吳] Oh (Ho) 1.5% 신 [申] Sin (Shin, Sinn) 1.5% 서 [徐] Seo (Suh) 1.4% 권 [權] Kweon (Kwon) 1.4% 황 [黃] Hwang 1.4% 안 [安] An (Ahn) 1.4% 송 [宋] Song 1.3% 유 [柳] Yu 1.1% 홍 [洪] Hong

    Japanese

    The Japanese consists of as many as 3 'alphabets': The katakana (phonetic used for foreign expressions), the hiragana (phonetic) and the kanji (ideograms), but also the romaji (latin characters) can be used together.

    Kanji

    The kanji signs are pictograms developed from concepts and have no relation with there pronunciation. Also the signs have different types of 'readings', the 'on', 'kun' and 'nanori' readings. Most Japanese names are depicted in kanji signs and should be read using the nanori reading (means name reading). For that I use a program called
    JWPce, which can convert the names into hiragana and in latin characters. This program uses the Hepburn romanization, in detail a so-called wapuro style in which long vowels are written as follows: 'ou' means 'oo'; 'ei' means 'ee' and others are just doubled: 'uu' 'ii', 'aa' Generally long vowels are not doubled at all when transliterated: 東京 can be transliterated as Toukyou. (other ways are Tōkyō, Tôkyô, Tokyo, Tookyoo). In many cases there are several nanori readings for kanji signs. E.g. 東健太郎 is Higashi Kentaro(u), but is sometimes referred as Azuma Kentaro(u), since has several different readings.

    Katakana

    The Katakana is used to transliterate foreign names and expressions into Japanese. But they do that in their own way, because of the difference in Japanese phonemes. E.g. Calgary is pronounced as ka-ru-ga-ri and thus spelled as カルガリ !!

    Hiragana

    Hiragana is a phonetic character set to represent words which are native to Japanese or were borrowed long time ago from the Chinese. It is used e.g. for verb endings, but also it can be used to transliterate the Kanji signs and for educational purposes. Some of the given names in the Japanese ranking lists are written in Hiragana. e.g: 山崎めぐみ is Yamazaki Megumi, where the family name 山崎 is Kanji and めぐみ is Hiragana. Following is an overview of both hiragana (2nd column) and katakana (3rd column) signs.
    Example: 東京 is in hiragana とうきょう(to-u-ki-yo-u). This is why I prefer the transliteration Toukyou, since this the closest to the Japanese pronunciation.

    Chinese

    The Chinese use characters called Han characters or Hanzi. Some of these characters were also introduced in the Japanese (Kanji) and Korean (Hanja) written languages. In unicode there is one characterset developed to combine these, although there are some differences and some (merely Japanese) people oppose against this unification. (See this overview of most important ideographs
    here) In Chinese some characters are ideographs, others are based on there pronunciation. Nowadays the traditional Chinese characters have also a simplified form. There are many different Chinese spoken languages, but the official Chinese is called Putonghua and is almost the same as Mandarin Chinese. There are several transcription systems like Wade-Giles and Yale, but the official standard romanization of Putonghua is called Pinyin. The four different tones in Chinese can be given with diacritics on the vowels or by numbers: Examples: 上海 Shang4 Hai3 or Shànghǎi 宋丽 Song4 Li4 or Sòng Lì (without tone: Song Li) 张晓磊 Zhang1 Xiao3 Lei3 or Zhāng Xiǎo Lěi (Zhang Xiaolei) 王明坤 Wang2 Ming2 Kun1 or Wáng Míng Kūn (Wang Mingkun) I only use the tone notations in my Chinese lists.

    Links

  • Omniglot All about alphabets and pronunciation
  • .
  • KeeleWeb An extensive list of als sorts of (cyrillic) transliteration tables in several countries.
  • Wikipedia Online encyclopedia, explanation about language and linguistics.