Guides to the Transliterations

If a particular poem is in a non-Latin script (like Arabic or Greek,) I may give a transliteration of a poem in the supplementary materials. This is a guide to how to pronounce said transliterations

Note: these transliteration guides (like the transliterations themselves) are not meant to give a perfect representation of how the original sounds. They are only meant to give a rough, general idea. I will add guides for different transliterations of different languages as needed.

How to pronounce transliterations from Russian

The accent mark shows where the primary stress of a word should fall. So a word transliterated as séver would sound more like the English word sever than like the word severe.

a: like the a of father in stressed syllables. Closer to the u of under in unstressed syllables.

b: like the English b

d
: like the English d before u, a, o and y. When followed by e, i, ya, yu, yo or an apostrophe, it has a sound closer (but not identical) to the j of jump. (For those trained in linguistics: it is a palatalized voiced alveolar plosive with slight affrication.)

e
: like the e of vignette

f:
like the English f

g:
like the g of goggles. Never like the g of magic.

i:
like the ee of green

k
: like the k of skill

kh:
like the ch of German bach

l
: like the l of lover before a, o, u and y. When followed by e, i, ya, yu, yo or an apostrophe, it has a sound closer (but not identical) to the ll of million. (For those trained in linguistics: this latter sound is an alveolar lateral approximant pronounced laminally with palatalization.)

m: like the m of massacre

n: like the n of nuisance

o: In stressed syllables it is like the o of home only without the slight w that occurs after this vowel in English. When unstressed, it behaves like a above.

p:
Like the p of spoon

r:
Trilled like in Spanish or Italian

s
: Pronounced as in English.

sh:
Pronounced as in English

t:
Like the t of stop

u:
like the u of dune

v:
Pronounced as in English

y:
When followed by a vowel, it is pronounced like the English consonant. Otherwise, it is pronounced somewhat like the i of bit. (For linguists: a close central unrounded vowel.)

z: Pronounced as in English

zh: Pronounced like the s of pleasure


How to Pronounce the Transliterations from Persian


a: roughly like the a of English bad

â:
like the a of English ball

b, d, f, g, h, k, m, n, p, s, sh, t, v, y, z:
Pronounced as in English

e
: like the e of bed (often in free variation with the i of sit)

i: like the ee of keen.

o: between the oo of book and the o of cold

u
: somewhat like the oo of noon

ow:
like the ow of low

j:
like the j of jump

zh:
like the s of pleasure

r:
trilled as in Spanish or Italian

q:
between vowels, at the end of most words and before l and r this letter should be pronounced somewhat like the r sound of Parisian French or Modern Hebrew, or like the Gamma of Modern Greek. (For linguists: a voiced uvular or velar fricative.) Elsewhere it is a guttural g. (For linguists: a voiced uvular plosive.)

kh: like the ch of German, but more like the ch of Welsh or the Chet of Yiddish or Modern Hebrew.



How to Pronounce the Transliterations from Arabic

b, d, f, h, m, n, s, th, sh, w, y, z:
pronounced as in English

a: roughly like the a of English bat. After ḍ, ṣ, ṭ, ẓ, q and r, however, it is like the o of English cot.

ā: roughly like the a of English bad, with the sound held out slightly longer than in English bat. After ḍ, ṣ, ṭ, ẓ, q and r, however, it is like the a of English call.

dh:
like the th of the. Never like the th of think

ḍ, ṣ, ṭ, ẓ :
like d, s, t and dh, respectively, but with the root of the tongue retracted slightly and the pharynx constricted.

gh:
somewhat like the r sound of Parisian French or Modern Hebrew, or like the Gamma of Modern Greek. (For linguists: a voiced uvular or velar fricative.)

ħ: similar to the English h, but with the root of the tongue constricted against the pharynx. (For linguists: a voiced pharyngeal fricative.)

i: similar to the the i of sit

ī: like the ee of green

j:
like the j of jump


k
: like the k of skill

l
: as in German or the Romance languages.

q: like the English k, only with the root of the tongue against the uvula rather than against the soft palate. (For linguists: a voiceless uvular plosive.)

r: trilled as in Spanish or Italian

u: like the oo of English boot.

ū:
longer than u above. Like the oo of English booed.


How to Pronounce the Transliterations from Modern Hebrew

The accent mark shows where the primary stress of a word should fall. So a word transliterated as mitrapéket would rhyme with the English name Beckett.

b, d, f, h, m, n, oy, s, sh, v, y, z:
pronounced as in English

ch:
like the ch of German

g: like the g of goggles. Never like the g of magic.

k
: like the k of skill

l
: as in German or the Romance languages.

p: Like the p of spoon

r: In Standard Israeli Hebrew, this sound is uvular, somewhat like in Parisian French or German.

t: Like the t of stop

a: like the a of father

e: like the e of bed

i: like the ee of keen.

o: somewhat like the o of cold

u: somewhat like the oo of noon
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