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Name Romanization Guide

Creators: Tom Elliott Copyright © The Contributors. Sharing and remixing permitted under terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (cc-by).
Last modified Apr 20, 2017 06:45 AM
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Guidance on romanizing (transliterating) names into Roman characters.

What is "Romanization"?

A full Pleiades name resource includes the "attested form" of the name, i.e., a string of characters or signs in the native writing system of the primary source witness(es) for that name variant. It also includes a "romanized" form, i.e., a series of characters from the Roman (Latin) script that are used in a systematic way to represent the "attested" form.  Although the word "Latinization" is often  used (e.g., in Wikipediaas a synonym for "Romanization," Pleiades draws a distinction on the basis of common usage in ancient studies: for Pleiades, a "Latinized" name would be one derived by making a name attested in another language and/or writing system appear to be Latin by altering, e.g., the inflected endings to match common Latin ones (e.g., Ephesus for Ἔφεσος). In Pleiades, a Latinized form like "Ephesus" -- if attested in ancient sources or used in modern ones -- is recorded with a completely separate name resource. 

For more information on requirements for the creation and editing of names, see the appropriate section of the Editorial Guidelines.


For most writing systems, the editors do not dictate a single Romanization scheme; however, in order to facilitate user searches in Pleiades, the editors encourage the inclusion of as many varied Romanized forms of a given name as may be found in the literature. These are entered in the "romanized form" field when editing a name resource, separated by commas. In fact, contributors should feel free (in fact, they are encouraged) to include among the Romanization forms for a given name those recommended by national, international, or library entities, or that may be found in influential or specialist secondary literature (including popular works) even if they follow idiosyncratic, outmoded, or deprecated schemes.

The following specific expectations and caveats apply to the Romanization of names in Pleiades.

Unicode Characters Allowed in the "Romanized" Field

Only characters drawn from the following Unicode blocks should be used in Romanized forms in Pleiades:

Exception: when a standard or discipline-specific "transliteration scheme" makes use of a mixture of Roman and non-Roman characters -- e.g., the IFAO transliteration system for Egyptian hieroglyphs, which uses the "egyptological alef" (Ꜣ) to represent the hieroglyphic character G005 (𓅃) -- characters from other ranges may be included in the Pleiades "romanization" field. It is the editors' preference that, wherever possible, the first romanized name in the field be one that does not include non-Roman characters.

Unicode strings must conform to the Canonical Composition Unicode Normalization form (NFC). 

Writing Systems that Use Roman Characters

The first "Romanized" form should match the attested form of a given name. Subsequent Romanized forms, if present, may omit accents and diacriticals.


The first Romanized form of an Arabic name should make use of the CALCS Arabic-to-Latin Transliteration Scheme. Contributors are strongly encouraged to add additional Romanization forms found in popular and specialist literature concerning the place in question. There is an excellent overview of different systems in Wikipedia: "Romanization of Arabic."


The first "Romanized" form should make use of the Bulgarian government-approved system of 2009, recommended by the United Nations in 2012.

Greek (ancient/polyphonic)

For consistency with the large number of names imported from the Barrington Atlas in the early stages of the Pleiades project, the editors encourage the use of a "Barrington-Atlas-style romanization" for the first form appearing in the field. Here is the section of the introduction to the Barrington Atlas, describing this scheme:

Ancient Greek names are transcribed literally, though without marking accents or long vowels. Th is used for theta, k for kappa, x for xi, ch for chi, ps for psi. Combinations with gamma such as gg or gk become ng and nk, etc. Upsilon with another vowel remains u (thus au for alpha + upsilon); otherwise it normally becomes y. Rho’s rough breathing is optional for initial rho (which can thus appear as either Rh or R), but elsewhere in the word it is omitted in the case of names attested only in Greek. Subscripts are ignored. (Map-by-Map Directory, p. vii).


Following the practice of, the first Romanized form of a Syriac name appearing in its native writing system should make use of the Hugoye simple transliteration scheme. Other common schemes that may be employed for additional Romanized forms include: