Transliteration tables

The Hebrew and Arabic alphabets along with respective transliterations into the Latin alphabet.
The Hebrew and Arabic alphabets along with respective transliterations into the Latin alphabet. [1]
Transliteration is the process whereby the text of one alphabet is converted into that of another. Within the realm of Western scholarship on the Middle East, transliteration is essential in order to represent characters, words, and phrases from Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and other languages. A uniform transliteration system is necessary to avoid confusion. Non-systematic transliteration results in numerous variants of one word; some examples: the Hebrew חנוכה (Ḥanukkāh, Ḥanukkah, Hanukkah, Chanukah, Chanukkah, Chanuka, Hanuka, etc.); the Arabic محمد (Muḥammad, Muhammad, Mohammed, Mahomet, etc); and the Persian نو روز (Now-Rūz, Now-Ruz, Noruz, Naw-Rúz, Nawruz, etc). Unless otherwise noted, on this website and in my scholarship, I follow a standard academic format, with some minor changes, in transliterating Arabic, Hebrew, and Persian. These systems are used by leading academic and scholarly publications and resources (with slight modifications). The tables below are designed to serve as a reference tool for readers and students. Clicking on the icon [ transliteration scheme ] throughout the text below will bring up images of various other transliteration schemes.

Table of contents

Arabic transliteration

For transliteration of Arabic (known in Arabic as ʿarabiyyah), I have chosen to conform to the basics of the system used in the International Journal of Middle East Studies (IJMES) IJMES transliteration scheme ], the new Encyclopædia of Islam, 3rd ed. (EI3), and the Library of Congress (LOC) LOC transliteration scheme ], with two major exceptions: I always mark the tāʾ marbūṭah (ة) with an ‘h’ and I assimilate the definite article (al-/-ال) into the sun letters, both stemming from an effort to make the transliterations approximate both orthography and pronunciation.

Arabic transliteration table

Persian transliteration

Since Modern Persian (known in Persian as fārsī) is written using the Arabic alphabet, transliteration of Persian resembles very closely that of Arabic. Although a number of academic references tend to use an identical transliteration system for Persian and Arabic, I prefer to use a system similar to that of the Encyclopædia Iranica (EIr), with the minor difference of using consonantal digraphs. A major difference between the EIr system and the ‘Arabic-centric’ ones is that the short vowels are marked as they are pronounced in Persian (the Arabic ‘i’ and ‘u’ are the Persian ‘e’ and ‘o’). Hence, rather than write the name of the Iranian leader as ‘Khumaynī’, as an Arabic-reader would read it, I write ‘Khomeynī’; the spelling of Persian individuals bearing Arabic names follows this pattern (e.g., ʿAżod od-Dowleh, not ʿAḍud ad-Dawlah). With a few exceptions, I write Middle Persian words and names as they appear in modern Persian (e.g., Pīrūz, not Pērōz).

Arabic transliteration table

Hebrew transliteration

For transliteration of Hebrew (known in Hebrew as ʿivrīt), I have adopted a method, essentially that of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) SBL transliteration scheme ] and similar to that of the Jewish Quarterly Review (JQR) JQR transliteration scheme ], which highlights its shared elements with other Semitic languages. One difference from the SBL is that I transliterate the final héh (ה-), which marks the vowel ā, in order to represent the orthography. Unlike with Arabic, I do not mark doubled letters caused by the assimilation of the definite article (ha-/-ה) into sun letters; since the assimilation is neither pronounced nor visually apparent in Hebrew, transliterating it as such may prove confusing (thus, ha-kohén and not hak-kohén). The same goes for a number of the fricatives that are no longer in use (e.g., /th/ [תּ/ת], /dh/ [דּ/ד]). Because transliteration of Hebrew vowels is complex and often unnecessary, I do not usually mark them with macrons or other symbols.

Arabic transliteration table

When both Arabic and Hebrew transliterations appear frequently within a study, I transliterate slightly differently, in order to highlight the similarities between the two languages.

Arabic transliteration table

Related links

Image credits

  1. The Hebrew and Arabic alphabets along with respective transliterations into the Latin alphabet. Source: D Gershon Lewental (DGLnotes).

Upcoming talks and lectures

Please note that not all of these events are open to the general audience; please check with the organisers to confirm.
  • 20 October 2017—‘Iranian exiles in Istanbul and Ottoman–Qājār relations’ (10th annual conference of the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa): Key Bridge Marriott Hotel, Washington, DC.
  • 03 November 2017, 18.15—‘Jewish and Christian minorities in the mediæval Islamic world’ (Medieval Fair Lecture Series, Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies, University of Oklahoma): Norman Public Library West, 300 Norman Center Court, Norman, Oklahoma.
  • 06 November 2017, 10.00—‘“Micro-minorities” in Israel: Druze, Circassian, and Baháʾí communities and the Jewish State’ (International Studies Institute, University of New Mexico): Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  • 07 November 2017, 17.30—‘Minorities and the Jewish state: The Druze, Circassian, and Bahāʾī communities of Israel’ (International Studies Lecture, Texas A&M University): College Station, Texas.
  • 15 November 2017, 15.00—‘Tajikistan between Iran and Islam: Nationalism and identity in post-Soviet Central Asia’ (Farzaneh Family Center for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies, University of Oklahoma): Farzaneh Hall 145, Norman, Oklahoma.
  • 21 November 2017, 10.30—‘Call-and-response battles in Syria and Iraq: The Literary construction of Islamic collective memory’ (51st annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association): Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, Washington, DC.
  • 17 March 2018—‘Armenians, Georgians, and Albanians and the initial Sāsānian response to the Arab-Islamic expansion’ (8th biennial congress of the Association for the Study of Persianate Societies): Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia.
  • Past events ► click to expand