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Transliteration

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Definition: The spelling of words that were originally from a language using a different alphabet.

Transliteration isn't always an exact task, and sometimes words are transliterated more than one way. For example, the name of the Chinese capital was at one time transliterated as "Peking" in English and Pekín in Spanish; currently the official transliteration of "Beijing" is used in both languages. Transliteration is used most often when words are imported from one language to another or in the use of place names. Sometimes official or semi-official letter equivalents are used in translation, while in other cases an attempt is made to reproduce the sound of the other language as closely as possible.

Both Spanish and English have words that are derived from transliterations of words in languages such as Greek, Russian, Arabic and Hebrew. Latin American Spanish also has some words of regional usage that are derived from transliterations of North and South American indigenous languages.

Also Known As: Transliteración in Spanish. When the transliteration is to the Latin alphabet used by English and Spanish, the term "romanization" or romanización can be used.
Examples:
The name for the Jewish festival of lights, which comes from a Hebrew word, has been transliterated as "Hanukkah" or "Chanukah" in English, Janucá and Jánuka in Spanish.
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