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University of Arizona Library

transliteration primer & "cheat sheet"

     When searching the Web, library databases, foreign library catalogs, or anywhere else that authority control may be limited (or different from that used in this country), it is important to remember that it may be necessary to search for authors' names, titles of works, place names, etc. using a number of different spellings. The chart below gives a fairly comprehensive list of the possible sets of letters/letter combinations that may be used to represent Cyrillic characters. This may be helpful in judging when one might want to use truncation, wildcards, or a Boolean search using the "OR" operator (for more information on search strategies, go to the Search Strategies page).

LC Authority Files

This chart, however, just gives the range of possibilities. Obviously, not all combinations of these letters for a given word will produce legitimate transcriptions/transliterations. One may get a better sense of exactly how a particular author's name, or the title of a work has historically been transcribed/transliterated by checking the authority files for that author/title on the Library of Congress Authorities webpage. These authority files subsume all the variations in spelling for authors' names for books held in US libraries. Some files are more complete than others. All the same, this is an extremely valuable resource for the serious Slavic scholar.

How to Search

To search for an author's name, select "Name Authority Records" from the drop-down box and type in the author's name using any standard system of transliteration/ transcription (e.g. Dostoevskii, Fedor). Choose from the list of records returned for your author, the one which indicates an "Authority Record" or "References." Follow the links to view the "Authority Record." This will bring up the Authority record in MARC format. The various spellings of the author's name are listed in the 400 field of the MARC record. You may want to print out the record for future reference, or just cut and paste the 400 field entries over to a Word document, if the authority record is very long. Ignore the dates and subfield indicators (bolded lowercase letters) when entering these forms of the name in a search.

Transliteration Charts

 

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