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Christian Galinski wrote:

> There are some more basic facts about conversion (transliteration,
> transcription and romanization) to mention:
>
> (1) ISO/TC 46/SC 2 decided years ago to deal with level-1 conversion
> (bidirectional one-to-one conversion for automatic application) first, and
> then take care of level-2 conversion (i.e. more user-friendly, but usually
> only unidirectional conversion) in the future.

That was largely superseded in recent years. The original decision
led to withdrawal by some P-members from this, notably the United
States. That original approach had several flaws in it.


> The aim was to have at least
> one harmonized system of conversion for each language/script in question.

Most of the ISO standards are unharmonised with each other. What
exactly do you mean by harmonization?

> Therefore, ISO conversion tables are mostly not very user-friendly - which
> was not their primary aim anyhow (and not meant as a criticism here at all).

And that is the reason why so few of them are used, excpet where they
happen to use pre-existing conventions, which the most used of them
do.

> (2) Most 'standard' conversion systems in science have a number of variants
> (e.g. modified Wade-Giles or Yale or... for Chinese, modified Hepburn or
> kunreishiki or... for Japanese etc.). Which modified version to chose?

Actually that's a red herring. This only applies to modified Hepburn
for Japanese. No other languages have widely used "modified" forms.

In fact modified Hepburn has become the standard Hepburn in effect.
The Japanese name - hebonshiki - does not indicate anything modified
about it. "Modified" is now a historical anacronism as a description.

> (3) In daily use - e.g. in newspapers - different conversion 'systems'
> (often not very harmonized, nor systematic) are used in the various language
> communities.

Quite often you find that they are amazingly often harmonised.

> (4) For certain applications  - e.g. maps and globes - there are other
> commissions/committees (e.g. UN group of experts for geographical names)
> harmonizing conversions into Latin under 'user-friendly' aspects.

Which have proved the most useful in this regard. ISO standards have
generally nothing to add to the work of UNGEGN.

> ISO/TC 46/SC 2 still has work in abundance with respect to the
> standardization/harmonization of all that - whenever it is
> necessary/suitable to harmonize.

If there is work in abundance to do, I hope that Austria will get far
more involved than it has been. ONORM supplied an excellent
Secretariat, until funding crises obliged them to give it up, when
ELOT stepped in, but technical input from Austria has been minimal
otherwise.

Best regards

John Clews

--
John Clews, SESAME Computer Projects, 8 Avenue Rd, Harrogate, HG2 7PG
tel: +44 1423 888 432; fax: + 44 1423 889061;
Email: [log in to unmask]

Committee Chair of  ISO/TC46/SC2: Conversion of Written Languages;
Committee Member of ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC22/WG20: Internationalization;
Committee Member of the Foundation for Endangered Languages;
Committee Member of ISO/TC37: Terminology)