Transliteration, transcription and translation

When writing about runic writing, there are some terms that are useful:

  • transliteration is the conversion from one writing system to another. Every rune has a standard representation in the Latin alphabet, written in bold face. The important thing to remember about transliterations is that they represent the runes, not the sounds. The transliteration simply represents the rune with that designation. It may stand for a number of vowel sounds.
  • transcription is the representation of a runic text in a standard version of the language the inscription is written in. Transcriptions are written in italics; this is where the interpretation of the sound values of the runes comes in.
  • A translation is, well, a translation into a modern language. It’s written within single quotation marks.

So as an example, here’s an inscription from Greenland (via Runes and Ruins):


The inscription transliterates as aue : maria : grasiablna

It transcribes as Ave Maria, gratia plena.

It translates as ‘Hail Mary, full of grace’.

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