Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Romanizations in Omegawiki

Romanizations are important to learn a language since it allows us, Latin alphabet readers, to read a word in a non-Latin script.

We are going to implement romanizations in OmegaWiki as text attributes. However, there are several concurring romanization systems for each non-Latin script, and it has to be decided which systems we are going to use.

First of all, there are several ISO norms for romanizations: (Wikipedia link). There are also many other romanization systems which are not ISO norms.

Among the languages and scripts listed in Wikipedia, I have knowledge and interest in Mandarin and Japanese. So, I'll discuss them below. For the rest, help is welcome.

For Mandarin Chinese, it is clear that the ISO norm, i.e. pinyin, is to be used. It is what is in the books when we learn the language, and what appears in almost all dictionaries, it is the most used system to write Chinese on a computer, and it is even taught to Chinese people at school.

For Japanese, the situation is not easy. The ISO norm is the Kunrei-shiki romanization . However, the most widely used seems to be the Hepburn romanization . It is the one that is used in my books at home. So we have the choice between several possibilities:
- should we use the Kunrei-shiki only, because it is ISO,
- should we use the Hepburn only, because it is the most widely used,
- or should we implement both?

For the other non-Latin scripts and languages , if you have knowledge or interest in Cyrillic, Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, Georgian, Armenian, Thai, Korean, Indic scripts or any other script that is not in the list, you are welcome to give your thoughts about the following question (here or at the International Beer Parlour):

"Should we use the ISO norm, or another system?"


P.S.: there is also the cyrillization of Japanese. Is it a desired feature as well?


Anonymous said...

Will this feature enable us do similar things such as add hiragana for words in kanji, bopomofo for Mandarin and fully vowelled versions of Arabic and Hebrew words?

Kipmaster said...

hiragana + bopomofo : definitely!
As soon as a contributor shows interest in these, we can have it (I have interest in hiragana myself).

For "fully vowelled versions", I am not sure. It could be implemented this way, but aren't they just alternative orthography of words?
(Note: I am not familiar with Arabic and Hebrew)