Meeting of the UNGEGN Working Group on Romanization Systems

Gdańsk, Poland, 18 May 2012

Annex A to the minutes of the meeting

A note sent by Mr. Bell

The epic ‘Book of Kings’ in Persian was completed just over 1000 years ago in 1010 AD.1 One of its characteristics was to utilize a minimal number of Arabic loanwords and a correspondingly high proportion of Persian words. The message is still important. Persian may have an Arabic-based script, but the language itself is not Arabic.

Scholars today often transliterate Persian using an extended system for transliterating Arabic, e. g. Encyclopaedia Islamica.2 This includes the use of subscript dots to indicate Arabic emphatic consonants that are not normally pronounced as emphatic in Persian.

However, it is also important to consider the goals of authorities who have been entrusted with making decisions on the romanization of Persian toponyms. To what extent are their decisions confirming the distinctiveness of the Persian language?

1 – Melville, Charles, Firuza Abdullaeva et al. (1999-present). The Cambridge Shahnama Project. (accessed 27 February 2012).