What is Transliteration?

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An example of transliterationTransliteration means representing a text from one script in another (e.g. transliterating a Cyrillic text into the Latin script). We also use it to mean when a name or word is pronounced in another language and written down phonetically. It does not involve translating meaning.

Chinese New Year greetings provide an illustration of this. Why do you see the Chinese words hapynewyrch written in multiple ways?   It’s because they are pronounced differently in various Chinese dialects so “Gong Hey Fat Choy” is Cantonese and “Gong Xi Fa Cai”, Mandarin.

Japanese have Katakana, an entire alphabet dedicated to writing foreign words with Japanese pronunciation. What we call transliteration is also called Romaji in Japanese – syllabic representation using the Latin alphabet.

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