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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the conversion of one writing system into another, that is, the representation of the letters of one writing system by those of another. For example, German Schiller is transliterated into Russian as Shiller; the German sch is a compound grapheme that is rendered in Russian by the single letter sh.

Transliteration is more versatile than orthographic transcription since it is oriented not toward a specific language but toward a specific writing system. Therefore, transliteration is not limited by the resources of a single alphabet and may utilize special letters and diacritical marks. Transliteration is not mechanical let-ter-for-letter substitution; it takes into account the original sound of the word.

Transliteration is of great practical value since it is a means of standardizing geographic and proper names. However, there does not yet exist a single, generally accepted system for transliterating the Russian alphabet. The best-known systems at the present time are the system developed by the Academy of Sciences of the USSR between 1951 and 1957 and the system devised by the Library of Congress (USA).


Reformatskii, A. A. “Transliteratsiia russkikh tekstov latinskimi bukvami.” Voprosy iazykoznaniia, 1960, no. 5.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.