HEBREW AND YIDDISH ROMANIZATION

The ALA/LC Hebraica Romanization Tables

The ALA/LC consonantal table given below for Hebrew and Yiddish is applicable to all Hebraic languages.  The vowels are supplied on a language-specific basis.

ALA/LC romanization assumes a close familiarity with the general principles of supplying vowels for unpointed Hebrew texts.  An overview is included in the appendix to Even-Shoshan's ha-Milon he-hadash and in most traditional Hebrew grammars.

The following romanization tables attempt to represent the sound of the Hebrew or Yiddish word; for this the Hebrew pronunciation approximates the modern Israeli, primarily Sephardic, pronunciation and the Yiddish follows the standardized, principally Lithuanian, pronunciation.  In romanizing Yiddish the etymology of the words is generally ignored.

 
א or disregard; cf. below ל l
בּ b מ, ם m
ב v נ, ן n
ג g ס s
ד d ע
ה h פּ, ףּ p
ו v פ, ף f
װ v (only if a consonant) צ, ץ ts
ז z ק k
ח h ר r
ט t שׁ sh
י y (only if a consonant שׂ `s
כּ, ךּ k תּ t
כ, ך kh ת t (in Yiddish, `s)
 

VOWELS USED IN HEBREW

ַ a י ֵ e
ָ a or o י ִ i
ֶ e וֹ o
ֵ e וּ u
ִ i ְ e or disregarded; cf. below
ֹ o ֲ a
ֻ u ֱ e
י ֶ e ֳ o
י ַ ai

 

Historical Note on ALA/LC Hebraica Romanization

Major changes were made to the romanization tables in 1948 and in 1976.  Prior to 1948 Yiddish words of German origin retained their German spelling in romanization.  For example, the word for "history" was romanized as "geschichte"; after 1948 this became "geshikhte"; after 1976 "geshikhte".

Until March 1948 the ALA/LC Hebraica romanization table was based on German spelling, a practice which appears to go back to cutter's recommendation to use The Jewish Encyclopedia of 1901-1905 as the basis for Hebrew romanization [1].  The Jewish Encyclopedia was also used as the standard reference authority for Hebraica cataloging, e.g. in establishing forms of headings.  The main differences from the later romanization system involved the vav, tsaid, and tav.  The vav was romanized as "w" (currently, "v"), the tsadi as "z" (currently, "ts"), and the tav without dagesh as "th" (currently, "t").  The word for "country", for example, was romanized as "arez"; after 1948 this became "arets".

In 1976 inferior dots were added to "v" and "t" in order to distinguish vet (v) from vav (v), and tav (t) from tet (t); the miagkii znak, or prime (') for alef was changed to alif (); the acute was added to the "s" to distinguish samekh (s) from `sin (`s), and the grave was added to the "s" in romanized Yiddish to distinguish the `sav (`s) from samekh (s) and `sin (`s).

Since there is a significant number of records in the LC MARC files which reflect the various stages in practice, it is necessary to keep the above changes in mind when searching the files.  Prior to the implementation of Total-Online-Searching-for-Cataloging-Activities (TOSCA) in mid 1983 at the Library of Congress, older records were not systematically changed to reflect later practice.  However, with the implementation of TOSCA, procedures were put in place to allow updating as many LC MARC records as possible to current romanization practice.

Another earlier practice to keep in mind is that the ALA cataloging rules (e.g., 1941 rule 67.f and 1949 rule 65A6 allowed the romanization of personal names for Hebrew writers before 1800 on the basis of equivalents in the Authorized (King James) Version of the Bible.  AACR1 (rule 44B2) extended this to pre-twentieth century names.  Thus, what is now given as "Mosheh" would then have been given as "Moses", "Shelomoh" as "Solomon", etc.  In contrast to current practice, earlier authority work did not require "see" references from the forms not used in the heading.

For additional information regarding variant romanization practices in the LC MARC files, see the notes below on LCRI 26; for further information concerning the formulation of personal name headings, see the historical note below on LCRI 22.3C; and for a discussion of the types of Hebraica records contained in the LC MARC files, see the notes on DCM B5.

 

1. Rules for a Dictionary Catalog / by Charles A. Cutter. -- 4th ed., rewritten. -- Washington : G.P.O., 1904. Cf. Appendix I, p. 150, footnote.