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Transliteration of Polish/Czech/Slovak etc into English charset?
Thread poster: Jan Sundström

Jan Sundström  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 23:03
English to Swedish
+ ...
Mar 3, 2009

Hi all,

I'd like to hear what the practice is among Polish/Czech/Slovak languages.

In certain situations, a user is stuck with a keyboard/system with no other charset than the English.
It might be an internet café abroad, or typing an SMS where the local language is not supported.

How does the user handle diacritics/special characters that aren't available in English?
Is it common practice just to "strip" all characters from it's diacritic, so that:
Wałęsa > Walesa
á, ď, é, ě, í, ň, ó, ť, ú, ů, ý > a, d, e, e, i, n, o, t, u, u, y

What about base characters that can have more than one diacritic (e, u above)? Would they be transliterated in different ways, maybe by adding a consonant?

Also, how accepted is this usage? Would it be possible for a company to transliterate like this in corporate communication? Or is it just for kids?

Thanks a lot for your input!

/J

Reference:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diacritic#Languages_with_letters_containing_diacritics


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Joanna Wachowiak-Finlaison
Malaysia
Local time: 06:03
English to Polish
+ ...
Polish Mar 3, 2009

You can just strip polish special characters of their diacritics. However, this is a practice acceptable (barely) in text messages, message boards and other informal internet communication.
In case of corporate communication, it will look sloppy, inelegant and extremely unprofessional. In all the word processors you can find those characters with a bit of effort. Also, bear in mind:
- a change from ą to a, for example, can completely change the words meaning;
- some people might feel offended if you spell their name without diacritics.

[Edited at 2009-03-04 05:00 GMT]


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Joanna Rączka  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 23:03
Member (2009)
English to Polish
+ ...
Usually readable, sometimes confusing Mar 3, 2009

In Polish we do not have any "replacement". So the common practice is to strip the diacritics as in the example you quoted. Usually we can guess the right character from the context. For instance "ja" means "I" and "ją" means "her". When you have a whole sentence e.g. "Ja kocham ja" it is rather obvious that it must be "I love her" not any other combination (Her love I, I love I, or Her love her).

It is OK in text messages, certainly not acceptable in any professional communication. When I sailed around the world, the sailmail system could accept only "bare" characters. I would send emails without diacritics to a friend who whould manualy insert all correct characters before the texts could be published in the voyage's website. What a tedious job!

Greetings

Aśka


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Jana Zajicova  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Member (2007)
English to Czech
+ ...
Czech Mar 3, 2009

We simply disregard the diacritics in such situations. "ů" and "ú" are both "u"; "é" and "ě" are both "e". Ambiguities can arise but it is not a big obstacle once the context is sufficient.

This style is prevalent and absolutely accepted in SMS because diacritical symbols eat up the character limit very quickly. Besides, typing them would be demanding in terms of time, and not all cells support diacritics anyway.

Many people write like that in internet discussions forum and so on. The motives range from sheer laziness (to use the upper row or to install the Czech keyboard in the first place) to technical obstacles (e.g. being abroad and writing from a computer where you are not allowed to install anything). More often than not, people who disregard diacritics are sloppy writers in general - they omit capitals and use careless punctuations. A lonely dissenter objects from time to time but is quickly shouted down and told to focus on substance.

Corporate communication - no way... That would be a scandal if I may exaggerate just a bit.

Personally, I occasionally deign to read a diacritics-free text because I feel it doesn't prevent me from maintaining my usual reading speed - but only as long as everything else is OK. As a matter of principle, I won't read anything that is longer than one or two lines and is written without capitals at the beginning of sentences, without punctuation, without spaces after punctuation etc. because the lack of visual aids and overall structure really slows me down, which I find disrespectful.


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Krzysztof Łesyk  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:03
Japanese to English
+ ...
Gate2Home Mar 3, 2009

As long as you have internet access, you can always use an international virtual keyboard at http://www.gate2home.com/ to type in many, many languages with all special characters that they might have.

Sure, it might not be as comfortable as a real keyboard (the Polish layout for example is a bit weird), but when you can't have what you love, you love what you have.


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Joanna Rączka  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 23:03
Member (2009)
English to Polish
+ ...
What is weird? Mar 4, 2009

Krzysztof Łesyk wrote:


Sure, it might not be as comfortable as a real keyboard (the Polish layout for example is a bit weird), but when you can't have what you love, you love what you have.


What is weird? You just hit alt+character to add diacritic. And you can define both alts if you feel uncomfortable hitting two keys with the same hand (I do).


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Krzysztof Łesyk  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:03
Japanese to English
+ ...
Polish layout weirdness Mar 4, 2009

Joanna Rączka wrote:
What is weird? You just hit alt+character to add diacritic. And you can define both alts if you feel uncomfortable hitting two keys with the same hand (I do).


For one thing, the Polish keyboard provided there is in QWERTZ layout - when I was still living in Poland all keyboards I had were QWERTY ones. Another thing is the fact that Polish characters all have dedicated keys instead of adding diacritics by pressing ALT.

Were you talking about a regular, "real life" Polish keyboard layout by any chance? It sure seems that way, but my "weird" commend was referring to the virtual keyboard available at http://www.gate2home.com/?language=pl&sec=2


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M. Anna Kańduła  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:03
English to Polish
+ ...
Not weird Mar 5, 2009

This layout used to be used in eg. Win 3.11 and old DOS (I'm not sure which is used today), and it's similar/the same as a type writer (that's why in Polish it's called "maszynistki", while the commonly used today is called "programisty"). There is nothing weird about it, it's just an old layout, probably very little used these days, if at all.


Anni


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Jan Sundström  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 23:03
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Mar 6, 2009

So it's correct to say that among chat/SMS users without access to local chars, it's more common just to strip the diacritics, rather than transliterating them into some kind of phonetic transcription?
(Like Wałęsa > Wawensa, or Kańduła > Kanjduwa, Rączka > Rangczka etc)


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Sebastian Abbo
Local time: 23:03
French to English
Lexibar for Czech, Polish and Slovak special characters Mar 31, 2009

For your information, we have recently released some very simple freeware that helps people to write accented characters in Polish, Czech, Slovak and other languages when they do not have the appropriate keyboard.

For details and download:

Czech: http://www.lexicool.com/lexibar_czech_special_keyboard_characters.asp

Polish: http://www.lexicool.com/lexibar-polish-special-keyboard-characters.asp

Slovak: http://www.lexicool.com/lexibar-slovak-special-keyboard-characters.asp

Regards,

Sebastian Abbo
lexicool.com


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Karolina Taflaj
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:03
English to Polish
+ ...
I will definitely try! Apr 16, 2009

I have to try to download one of those. At the moment when I need to translate anything (it is not acceptable to use "stripped" letters in professional communication) I type the text first and then replace the "stripped" letters into Polish ones manually. It is rather painstaking...

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