Transliteration

The decisions include three types of transcriptions:

  • From Hebrew to Latin letters
  • From foreign languages to Hebrew
  • From Arabic to Hebrew

From Hebrew to Latin letters:

With the establishment of the State of Israel, there was a need for organized transliteration rules for transliterating Modern Hebrew into Latin letters.

Deciding on transcriptions involved deciding whether to give expression to the Hebrew alphabet or to the established pronunciation in speech.

In 1957 rules were published in two versions: a simple transliteration, “which is earmarked for popular use, this transliteration is not as stringent in its precision and uses two Latin letters in specific cases for one Hebrew letter”; and a  precise transliteration, “meant for use in places in which the Hebrew words need to be completely accurate… this transliteration is an elaboration of the simple version, but uses one Latin letter per Hebrew letter, and special symbols for some additional vocalizations”.

At the end of the 20th century the public increasingly asked the Academy to change the transliteration rules, make them more simple and adapted to everyday use. After much deliberation the new rules were ratified.

From Latin lettering to Hebrew:

These rules are guidelines for proper names (names of people and places, etc.) from foreign, non-Semitic languages. The rules state that generally the word should be transliterated according to pronunciation and not to writing.

The rules have been discussed several times at the Academy, most recently during the past decade. Like in Hebrew orthography, two systems have been accepted, one with and one without nikkud.