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Transliteration standard

The transliteration standard of Arabic characters used in ARABVISL corresponds to the one used by The Encyclopaedia of Islam with a few minor changes:

Check rules for capitalization, the rendering of case endings in the transliterated corpus, the use of hyphens and the specific problems concerning the transliteration of taa' marbuuTa


Arabic writing does not capitalize. In the transliterated text, capitalization only occurs when representing the emphatic letters Saad, Daad, Taa' and Zaa' as well as Haa' in order to distinguish them from other Arabic letters.

Case endings

The transliteration follows very closely the way Modern Standard Arabic is written in e.g. Arabic newspapers and journals. Thus case endings will only be rendered in Latin characters if they are normally written in Arabic. As a consequence, only the indefinite accusative endning "-an" will be rendered in the transliterated text.

The Encyclopaedia of islam

The differences between the system of transliteration of the Encyclopaedia of Islam and the system used here, are mainly due to the complex interaction of the database with the html-script. The differences can be summerized as follows:

1. The emphatic letters Saad, Daad, Taa', and Zaa' as well as the letter Haa', which are transliterated in the Encyclopaedia of Islam with a dot beneath a small letter, are represented in our system with the corresponding capital letters.

2. The emphatic letter qaaf is transliterated with a "q" in our system instead of a "k" with a dot.

3. The letter jiim is transliterated by "j" in our system instead of "dj".

4. The letter cayn, which is transliterated by c in the Encyclopadia of Islam, is represented by * in our system.

5. Long vowels are represented by writing the vowel twice instead of a dash above the letter.


A hyphen indicates that the sequences before and after the hyphen are written as one word in Arabic.

This goes for the following cases:

1. The definite article al- is written as a part of the Arabic noun, e.g. al-bait (the house), al-banaat (the girls).

2. Possessive pronouns are suffixes in Arabic, e.g. baitu-hu (his house), banaat-ii (my girls).

3. Personal pronouns used as objects are suffixes in Arabic. The sentence katabtu al-risaala (I wrote the letter) becomes katabtu-haa (I wrote it).

4. Certain prepositions and particles (typically consisting of one consonant) are written as a part of the noun that follows, e.g. b-il-lugha al-faransiyya (in the french language), a-laysa kadhalik (isn't it; a- indicates that what follows, is a question)

Ta marbuuTa

In order to follow, as closely as possible, the way Modern Standard Arabic is written in e.g. Arabic newspapers and journals, the "ta- marbuuTa" is rendered "-a" as indicated in the table above, unless it actually changes into a "-t" in the Arabic script (which happens when a suffix is added) in which case it will be rendered "-t". Thus, our system does not follow the quite common usage of generally rendering "ta marbuuTa" as "-t" in the construct state (the so-called iDaafa in Arabic). Thus, "the man's car" will be rendered sayyara al-rajul (car the-man), whereas "his car" will be rendered sayyaratu-hu (car-his).

Helle Lykke Nielsen, May 1999


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