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Transliteration tips

Transliteration refers to the conversion of a text into a different alphabet. When researching topics on Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, it is necessary to be familiar with several kinds of transliteration systems, including those established by the Library of Congress.

Tip #1 -- Consult the tables

Each language with a non-roman writing system has its own Library of Congress transliteration table. The systems are not interchangeable because there is a one-to-one relationship with each character, rather than each sound. Make sure you are using the correct system for the language you are searching in.


Using the LC system will yield more accurate results when you search for titles, names, and keywords in the original language.

Tip #2 -- Search your keywords in different ways

The Library of Congress transliteration system is standard for libraries, but it isn't the only one you should use. Many transliteration standards have been devised over the years, and different ones are used in different countries, disciplines, and institutions. You might see a variety of results if you search for Dostoevsky, Dostoevskii, Dostoevskij, Достоевский, or Uncle Vanya, Diadia Vania, Dyadya Vanya, Дядя Ваня. Try them all and see what you get!