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What is transliteration

A systematic way to convert characters in one alphabet or phonetic sounds into another alphabet.

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.

Why Transliteration

Many cultures around the world use different scripts to represent their languages. By transliterating, people can make their languages more accessible to people who do not understand their scripts. For example, to someone who knows the Sinhala alphabet, the name ???? is incomprehensible. However, when it is transliterated as Muhammad, readers of the Sinhala alphabet understand that it means the SinhalaWord . There are a number of reasons to use transliteration, but most of them involve conveying information across cultures.
For example, on a menu in a Tamil restaurant, ?????????? might be written as khao rad gang for Sinhala speakers, so that they can read what they are ordering, even if they do not understand it. Transliteration is also used in language education, so that people can understand how words are pronounced without needing to learn the alphabet as well.


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