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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Transliteration is the practice of transcribing a word or text written in one writing system into another writing system or system of rules for such practice.

From a linguistic point of view, transliteration is a mapping from one system of writing into another, word by word, or ideally letter by letter. Transliteration attempts to be exact, so that an informed reader should be able to reconstruct the original spelling of unknown transliterated words. To achieve this objective, transliteration may define complex conventions for dealing with letters in a source script which do not correspond with letters in a goal script.

Transliteration is opposed to transcription, which specifically maps the sounds of one language to the best matching script of another language. Still, most systems of transliteration map the letters of the source script to letters pronounced similarly in the goal script, for some specific pair of source and goal language. If the relations between letters and sounds are similar in both languages, a transliteration may be (almost) the same as a transcription. In practice, there are also some mixed transliteration/transcription systems that transliterate a part of the original script and transcribe the rest. One instance of transliteration is the use of an English computer keyboard to type in a language that uses a different alphabet, such as Russian. Transliterated toften used in emails, blogs, and electronic correspondence where non-Latin keyboards are unavailable, is sometimes referred to by special composite terms that demonstrate the combination of English characters and the original non-Latin word pronunciation: Ruglish, Hebrish, Greeklish, or Arabish. While the transcription implies seeking the best way to render foreign words into a particular language, the typing transliteration is a purely pragmatic process of inputting text in a particular language. The rest of this article concerns itself with the first meaning of the word, that is rendering foreign words into a different alphabet, transliteration in a narrow sense.

Also, transliteration should not be confused with translation, which involves a change in language while preserving meaning. Transliteration performs a mapping from one alphabet into another.

In a broader sense, the word transliteration is used to include both transliteration in the narrow sense and transcription. Anglicizing is a transcription method. Romanization encompasses several transliteration and transcription methods.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Transliteration" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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