Notes by Autumn Light

On Hebrew, English, translation, editing, and more—by Jonathan Orr-Stav

What are some guidelines to transliterate Italian to Hebrew?

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Broadly speaking, it’s fairly easy, as Italian uses the same vowels as in Hebrew (in fact, it’s a common way of explaining Hebrew vowels to English speakers). By default, the /a/ sound is assumed, and the /i/ sound is indicated by using a yod as though it were the letter i in Italian. If the vowel is an /e/, /o/ or /u/ sound, use niqqud to state a ségol, ḥolam, or shuruq, respectively. However:

  • If the word starts with a vowel, use an aleph to “carry” it—e.g. אוניברסיטה
  • If the /a/ sound is at the end of a word—e.g. università—indicate it with a héh sophit (e.g. אוניברסיטה)

As for the consonants:

  • Use tet (ט) for all t
  • Use samekh (ס) for all /s/-sounding s (e.g. – סי), zayin for all /z/-sounding ones (e.g. Pisa – פיזה)
  • Use tzadi (צ) for all z or zz (e.g. pizza – פיצה); tzadi-apostrophe (צ׳) for ci or ce (e.g. cittàצ׳יטה)
  • Use nun-yod to represent gn (e.g. gnocchiניוקי)
  • Use lamed-yod for gl (e.g. figlio – פיליו).
  • Use shin-yod for sci (e.g. sciareשיארֶה)

I think that covers it. If I think of anything else, I’ll add it in future edits.

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(Originally written in reply to a question at Quora.com).

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Author: יונתן אור-סתיו | Jonathan Orr-Stav

Hebrew-English translator, editor, author. מתרגם עברית–אנגלית, עורך באנגלית, וסופר.

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