Romanization of Macedonian

The Romanization of Macedonian is the transliteration of text in the Macedonian language from the Macedonian Cyrillic alphabet into the Latin alphabet. Romanization can be used for various purposes, such as rendering of proper names in foreign contexts, or for informal writing of Macedonian in environments where Cyrillic is not easily available. Official use of Romanization by Macedonian authorities is found, for instance, on road signage and in passports. Several different codified standards of transliteration currently exist and there is widespread variability in practice.

Romanization systems

Road sign to Dolno Sonje in Macedonian Cyrillic (above) with romanization (below)

For a number of Cyrillic letters, transliteration into matching Latin letters is straightforward. Cyrillic а, б, в, г, д, е, з, и, к, л, м, н, о, п, р, с, т, у, ф are matched with Latin a, b, v, g, d, e, z, i, k, l, m, n, o, p, r, s, t, u, f, according to all conventions. Cyrillic ц (pronounced [ts]) is mostly rendered as c, in accordance with the conventions for many other Slavic (and non-Slavic) languages. The letter х is typically rendered as h, matching the pronunciation in Macedonian. For the Macedonian/Serbian letter ј, the preferred transliteration is its visual Latin counterpart j (rather than y, otherwise widely used in English for the rendering of the same glide sound in other languages). For other Cyrillic letters, the choice is between a single Latin letter with a diacritic, and a digraph of two Latin letters. This goes mainly for the letters denoting palatalised consonants, and for those denoting fricatives and affricates in the alveolar and palatal range.

Digraph system

This system is using digraphs instead diacritics, making it easier for use in environments where diacritics may pose a technical problem, such as typing on computers. Common usage has gj, kj for ѓ, ќ, either dj or dzh for џ, and sometimes ts for ц. Such a diacritic-free system, with digraphs zh, gj, dz, lj, nj, kj, ch, sh, dj has reportedly been adopted since 2008 for use in official documents such as passports, ID cards and driver's license. The system adopted for digraph transliteration is ICAO Doc 9303.[1] The Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences and the State Statistical Office of the Republic of Macedonia use similar digraph system.[2] The digraph system is more widely used in Macedonia and it is expected to be fully adopted.

ISO 9 system

A standardized system of transliteration is defined in ISO 9:1968; this system was also adopted by the Macedonian Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1970,[3] but it was withdrawn and replaced with the newer ISO 9:1995; and is taught in schools in the Republic of Macedonia.[4] It uses letters with diacritics ž, č, š for Cyrillic ж, ч, ш respectively (as for many other Slavic languages), and ǵ, ḱ for the special Macedonian letters ѓ, ќ. The palatalised consonants of Cyrillic љ, њ are rendered with digraphs lj, nj, and the voiced affricates of Cyrillic ѕ, џ with dz, dž respectively. A variant of this system, also defined in ISO 9, allows for digraphs rather than diacritics in more cases, using zh, ch, sh rather than ž, č, š for Cyrillic ж, ч, ш. Recently the Macedonian Academy of Arts and Sciences started using digraphs on its official website[5] and it is expected that the diacritic system will be withdrawn in the next update of the Macedonian orthography.[6]

The palatal plosives ѓ, ќ are also sometimes rendered as Latin đ, ć, following a Serbian convention (đ, ć are the Serbian Latin equivalents of Serbian Cyrillic ђ and ћ, which etymologically correspond to Macedonian ѓ, ќ in many words.) This convention is found in the system adopted by the US Board on Geographic Names (BGN) and the British PCGN in 1981,[7] as well as by the United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographic Names (UNCSGN).[8] According to this system, ѓ, ќ are transliterated as plain g and k before front vowels (е, и), but as đ and ć respectively in other environments. Otherwise, this system is identical to that of ISO 9 (R:1968).[9]

Comparative table of some standard romanizations of the Macedonian letters
Cyrillic IPA ISO 9 (1995)[10] ISO 9 (1968), National Academy (1970), BGN/PCGN (2013), ALA-LC BGN/PCGN (pre-2013)[7]/UN[8] Official Documents/Cadastre[1] MJMS/SSO[2] British System
А а /a/ A a
Б б /b/ B b
В в /v/ V v
Г г /a/ G g
Д д /d/ D d
Ѓ ѓ /ɟ/ Ǵ ǵ Ǵ ǵ G/Đ g/đ Gj gj Gj gj Đ đ
Е е /ɛ/ E e
Ж ж /ʒ/ Ž ž Ž ž Ž ž Zh zh Zh zh Ž ž
З з /z/ Z z
Ѕ ѕ /dz/ Ẑ ẑ Dz dz Dz dz Dz dz Dz dz Dz dz
И и /i/ I i
Ј ј /j/ J̌ ǰ J j J j J j J j J j
К к /k/ K k
Л л /l/ L l
Љ љ /ʎ/ L̂ l̂ Lj lj Lj lj Lj lj Lj lj Lj lj
М м /m/ M m
Н н /n/ N n
Њ њ /ɲ/ N̂ n̂ Nj nj Nj nj Nj nj Nj nj Nj nj
О о /ɔ/ O o
П п /p/ P p
Р р /ɲ/ R r
С с /s/ S s
Т т /t/ T t
Ќ ќ /c/ Ḱ ḱ Ḱ ḱ K/Ć k/ć Kj kj Kj kj Ć ć
У у /u/ U u
Ф ф /f/ F f
Х х /h/ H h
Ц ц /ts/ C c C c C c C c Ts ts / C c C c
Ч ч // Č č Č č Č č Ch ch Ch ch Č č
Џ џ // D̂ d̂ Dž dž Dž dž Dj dj Dzh dzh Dž dž
Ш ш /ʃ/ Š š Š š Š š Sh sh Sh sh Š š

See also



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