Transliteration of Russian

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  24 Apr 1959:
Vol. 129, Issue 3356, pp. 1111-1113
DOI: 10.1126/science.129.3356.1111


The objective of any system of transliteration is obviously to convey to the reader as closely as possible the phonetic value of the transliterated material. Barring phonetic transcriptions, this objective is doubtless best accomplished when (i) minimum use is made of extra marks and extra letter combinations that of necessity are arbitrary, unclear, and confusing to many readers, and when, of course (ii), there is only one uniform system and not a variety of varying ones. A detailed analysis reveals that present-day practices of transliterating Russian into English by no means conform to these desiderata, but that they could readily be made to do so. With only two extra letter combinations, zh for and kh for x, and a single and a double apostrophe for the "soft" and "hard" marks, a very close approximation of Russian phonology may be attained through a discriminating use of English as is. A complete and uniform transliteration of Russian into English, including the noncontroversial letters, is shown in Table 1.