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Re: Poor State of the Man Pages

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From:
Tom Christiansen
Date:
November 27, 2003 11:21
Subject:
Re: Poor State of the Man Pages
Message ID:
25671.1069960876@chthon
> We cannot leave "transliterate" as such because it's a piece of UNIX
> jargon and not plain English. (for example).

Transliteration is hardly the same as translation, and this distinction is
wholly unrelated to collective Unix culture.  The first is but a simple
rewrite from one character set into another; the second goes substantially
beyond that, substituting instead a term from the target language whose
*meaning* corresponds to the one used in the first language.

By way of illustration:

Greek word              θεοκτονία    τετραγλωττος  πρεσβύτεροi  μαργαρῐτις
Latin transliteration   theoktonia   tetraglottos  presbyteroi  margarītis
Latin translation       deicīdium    quadrilinguis seniores     nacrum (MedL)
English translation     god-killing  four-tongued  elders       pearl

    (Just as the Romans would further Latinize transliterated Greek words into
    forms that better fit into their language (eg, k to c, -os to -us, -oi
    to -i), we do the same in English; sometimes we even have Anglicized
    versions of both the Greek and the Latin, such as theoktony coexisting
    with deicide, tetraglot with quadrilingual.)

According to The Dictionary, transliteration is a transitive verb defined as:

     To replace (letters or characters of one language) by those of
     another used to represent the same sounds; to write (a word, etc.)
     in the characters of another alphabet.  Hence transˈliterated ppl. a.

On the other hand, the relevant definition for translation (def II 2 a) defines
it as a transitive verb meaning:

    To turn from one language into another; ‘to change into another language 
    retaining the sense’ (J.); to render; also, to express in other words, 
    to paraphrase.  (The chief current sense.)

In summary, because to translate is to paraphrase, and because the tr/// 
operator does no such thing, transliterate is the correct term to describe 
its operation of mere character-set (that is, alphabet) transcription.  

Or did you want it to be "transcription"? :-)

--tom

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