Elie's Expositions

A bereaved father blogging for catharsis... and for distraction. Accordingly, you'll see a diverse set of topics and posts here, from the affecting to the analytical to the absurd. Something for everyone, but all, at the core, meeting a personal need.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Transliteration Made Easy

(Adapted from a piece I wrote for the Mail.Jewish discussion group, Purim 1995.)

A recurring issue here in the J-blogosphere is the fact that people use a wide variety of different transliterations for Hebrew words, often making it difficult to read one another's blogs. After giving the matter a great deal of thought, I have come up with what I feel is the definitive method of mapping Hebrew letters to English ones.

The concept is based on the very fortunate coincidence - if not indeed Hashgacha Peratis [Divine Providence] that there are 22 Hebrew letters, and four of them - bais, kuff, pay, and (insert standard loud debate on Zionism here) tuff - have different sounds with or without a dagesh [dot]. That brings the total to 26 - and there are 26 English letters!! Why not simply map the Hebrew letters to the English ones in order, thus establishing an easy to use, universal transliteration mapping!

Without further ado, here is the proposed mapping:

aleph = a
bais = b
vais = c
gimel = d
daled = e
hay = f
vav = g
zayin = h
hess = i
tess = j
yud = k
kuff = l
chuff = m
lamed = n
mem = o
nun = p
samech / sin = q
ayin = r
pay = s
fay = t
tzade = u
koof = v
raish = w
shin = x
tuff = y
suff = z

Note that the letter sin has been mapped to the same value as samech since they are often considered interchangable. Also, the possible different sounds of gimel and daled with and without dageshim have been ignored, since only show-off know-it-alls are aware of those distinctions in the first place.

If this scheme is adopted as the J-blogger standard, it will solve forever the problem of variant Hebrew spellings that has plagued us for so long. For example, instead of the wide variety of spellings like hanuka, hanukah, chanukah, HHhhannukkah, etc., everyone would uniformly spell it ipglf!

I know that it may take some folks a while to get used to using these new transliterations, but before long, it will come as naturally as putting on your cycy$... uh, tzitzis... uh, I mean, ukukz!

I implore all J-bloggers to immediately start using this (IMNSHO) ingenious and elegant new scheme!

Happy Sgwko!!!!


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