[INDOLOGY] transliteration of proper nouns

Dipak Bhattacharya dipak.d2004 at gmail.com
Sat Feb 28 11:37:18 UTC 2015

28.2 15

Dear Professor Tull,

I have no strict guidance to offer but can cite from my ‘Introductory note’
to a volume comprising a collection of papers in 2001.

“The absence of strict uniformity in the use of diacritical marks in the
transliteration of Bengali words in the Bibliography requires explanation.
The Sanskrit spelling of Bengali *tatsama *words could not always be
reflected in their Roman transliterarion in the Bibliography as, for
example, there are established conventions for the names of periodicals
like Basumati where Vasumatī would have been unacceptable” (*Tarividyam*:
Subarnarekha, Kolkata: x )

The unwritten guideline is that established conventions should be adhered
to.  When there is no established convention the semivowels, irrespective
of whether they are pronounced as plosives or not, are written as
semi-vowels. Our faculty of humanities is called Vidya Bhavan without the
addition diacritics, so is the southern-most bridge in Calcutta called
Vidyasagar Setu. Youngsters also write vishan for bhishan but that is not
approved in learned circles and regarded as unsophisticated. The retroflex
ṣ is transcribed sh, the palatal ś as plain s, ṇ is n, c is ch, and so on.
Aberrations are numerous. यामिनी राय (যামিনী রায়) is written Jamini Roy. So
goes Jatindra Mohan; also Jodhpur (in Hindi).

In the thirties, forties and fifties Sunitikumar Chatterji, Durgamohan
Bhattacharyya, Rajsekhar Basu and other intellectuals had been employed by
the Government to standardize the spellings and transliterations. But the
nonchalant, lackadaisical Bengali intellectuals deemed it below dignity to
abide by norms.

Net outcome -- Go as you like stating the method!


Dipak Bhattacharya

On Sat, Feb 28, 2015 at 6:21 AM, Herman Tull <hermantull at gmail.com> wrote:

> I am engaged in a project that will draw on a few proper nouns from
> nineteenth century India, many of which are Bengali. Is there a
> transliteration standard used in modern published works for older Indic
> proper nouns, particularly those that exist in print in "unusual" forms?
> In other words, does one follow the "old" Bengali spellings, or revise them
> to follow Sanskritized versions?
> Thus, e.g., Keshub Chandra Sen, or, Keshub Chunder Sen?
> Also, are diacriticals used for proper nouns? Vivekananda, or, Vivekānanda?
> And, again, are diacriticals used for organizations? Arya Samaj or Ārya
> Samāj
> For all other Sanskrit elements, the project does use diacriticals
> (e.g., Purāṇa)
> Any guidance is appreciated!
> Herman
> --
> *Herman TullPrinceton, NJ *
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