Twenty-third Session of the
United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names.

Working Group on Romanization Systems
Informal meeting, 30th March 2006
Vienna International Centre, Austria


Mr Peeter PÄLL


Mr Brahim ATOUI
Mr Pavel BOHÁČ
Ms Caroline BURGESS
Ms Elisabeth CALVARIN
Mr Naftali KADMON
Mr Maciej ZYCH

  1. The provisional agenda was adopted.
  2. Papers concerning romanization to be presented to the 23rd session of UNGEGN included Working Paper 22 (Mongolian), Working Paper 57 (Japanese), Working Paper 62 (Persian), Working Paper 95 (Korean), Working Paper 98 (Report of the Convenor) and Conference Room Paper 6 (Russian).

    a. Languages/scripts covered by systems recommended to the United Nations where discussions were ongoing:

    i. Amharic The WG needed to examine in more detail the system supported by the Ethiopian Mapping Authority which omitted diacritical marks and apostrophes.

    ii. Arabic The Modified Beirut System had been formally presented to the Arab League in January 2005. Lebanon was intending to adopt this system when it had been approved by the Arab League.

    iii. Indian group of languages The UN systems had never been applied. New systems for these languages needed to be adopted through UN Resolutions in order for the unused systems to be replaced. ISO systems for the Indian languages were applied in Poland. The US Board on Geographic Names was researching systems for these languages/scripts, for application in both India and Pakistan. The Hunterian system was still widely used in those countries. The Convenor would attempt to contact the Expert from Pakistan who was attending this session of UNGEGN.

    iv. Khmer There appeared to be a contradiction between the national system and the UN system and discussion between the WG and the national authorities in Cambodia was considered necessary.

    v. other (Macedonian Cyrillic, Persian…) Transcription procedures for Persian were to be examined in WP62. The Broad Transcription method was used in the new Iranian national names database.

    b. Other languages/scripts

    i. Armenian This system was still undergoing changes, but no recent correspondence had been received.

    ii. Byelorussian The national system had been adopted in 2002, but had not yet been presented to the WG.

    iii. Georgian The WG had examined the new system, but it had not yet been officially submitted to the UN.

    iv. Korean Joint DPRK/ROK talks on the Korean language had been initiated.

    v. Lao A response was still awaited from the Lao authorities

    vi. Maldivian There had been no further contact with the Maldives.

    vii. Mongolian The Convenor would approach the Mongolian Expert attending this session.

    viii. Ukrainian The 1996 system was being applied nationally. The Convenor explained the procedures to be followed in order to submit the system to the UN.

    ix. other (Dzongkha, Kirghiz, Tajik…) Further information from Bhutan was anticipated. The Convenor had been approached by the Expert from Kyrgyzstan who had been enquiring about the appropriate procedures for the submission of romanization systems to the WG. Kyrgyzstan was currently applying the BGN/PCGN system. It had been established that the Tajik Expert at this session was not an authority on romanization issues within his country. Romanization should be included as an integral part of the toponymic training courses.

  3. The WG’s website currently contained systems in downloadable pdf format. The advances in data transfer standards and the availability of Unicode-compliant fonts could lead to a reformatting of the website, whereby the systems could eventually be presented in a number of other formats. The WG report containing the various systems had been submitted for inclusion in the UN Technical Manual.
  4. The question of UN endorsement of replacement characters for certain Roman letters was raised. This was considered, however, to be a matter for the appropriate national authority.
  5. There was a possibility that a joint meeting of the WG Romanization Systems and the Baltic Division could be organised to take place in Tallinn, Estonia, in autumn 2006, or spring 2007, ahead of the forthcoming UN Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names.
  6. Working Group on Romanization Systems
    30th March 2006