Arabic Transliteration for Academics, Publishers and Librarians

Arabic Transliteration for Academics, Publishers and Librarians
Contributed By: events coordinator
Organizing Institution: Aga Khan University Institute
Contact email: [email protected]
Start Date: November 3, 2022 (17:00)
End Date: November 10, 2022 (19:00 +03)
Cost: £45 – £75
– California – United States
Two-day (3 and 10 November 2022) online short course on Arabic transliteration.

AKU-ISMC’s new Centre for the Languages of the Muslim World is delighted to offer this short course as part of its Professional Development Series.

The course is aimed at professionals, scholars and students who work with Arabic text and would like to acquire knowledge of transliteration systems and gain or improve their practical transliteration skills under the guidance of experienced tutors.

The course is a 5-hour practical workshop-style course taught in two sessions. In the session I, participants will learn about transliteration and transcription, the various conventions and scholarly traditions, linguistic issues, contextual needs, and specific problems of Arabic-to-roman rendering; participants will learn and practise contextually appropriate practical transliteration, with tailored feedback from the tutors. Session II will comprise a “problem clinic” workshop focused on individual texts chosen by each participant and submitted in advance. During the course, consideration will also be given to issues of bias and ideology.

Prior to session II’s problem clinic, participants are asked to submit a short (1-line) extract of Arabic text, with a sample transliteration and a note on the context, for discussion during the session.

The course is equally well suited to native and non-native speakers of Arabic.

Course Convenors

Dr Alex Bellem is a Linguist and Arabist, and Assistant Professor at AKU-ISMC, where she leads planning for the Institute’s new Centre for the Languages of the Muslim World. She specialises in comparative–theoretical phonology (and phonetics) and Arabic dialectology, with expertise in the languages and linguistics of the Middle East and contiguous regions. She is currently writing a book which develops a cross-linguistic typology of emphatic consonants and phonation. She collaborates with Rex Smith in a project on the language of texts composed in Literary Mixed (“Middle”) Arabic and has previously collaborated on projects on Modern South Arabian languages, publishing on the phonology and phonetics of Mehri and of Sheret (Jibbali). She has broader research interests in folk literature, and cultural heritage, and has also published on Iraqi folk poetry. She holds a PhD in Arabic Linguistics from SOAS, an MA from UCL (Linguistics), and a BA from Manchester University (Turkish and Arabic). Her previous academic post was at Durham University; this followed academic posts at Salford University and at the CBRL British Institute, Amman and Damascus.

Professor G. Rex Smith is Visiting Professor in the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies, University of Leeds, and Professor Emeritus of the University of Manchester. He has taught and researched Arabic language and culture in a career spanning many years and held academic posts at the Universities of Cambridge, Durham, Manchester and Leeds. He has published widely on (classical and “Middle”) Arabic, Yemeni history and culture, and Middle Eastern travel literature (both Arabic and French). Much of that research has involved translations from Arabic; perhaps most significantly his 2008 annotated translation of the 13th-century journey of Ibn al-Mujāwir, A Traveller in Thirteenth-Century Arabia. Among many other publications, Professor Smith co-authored a book on the Arabic scripts, A Brief Introduction to the Arabic Alphabet (with John F. Healey, Saqi Books, 2009). His two current projects are translations of the travel writing of the French littérateur Pierre Loti (Gerlach Press, 2021, 2022), and collaborative work with Alex Bellem on a comparative study of linguistic features of Literary Mixed (“Middle”) Arabic. He has a BA from SOAS in Classical Arabic, and an MA and PhD from the University of Cambridge.

Date and Time

3 November (14:00 – 17:00) and 10 November (14:00 – 16:00) 2022, London.


The course assumes the full reading ability of the Arabic script, and at least some basic knowledge of, or working familiarity with, the Arabic language. The course is suitable for both native and non-native speakers of Arabic. Participants should have familiarity with Zoom tools; a good internet connection; and access to MS Teams. Prior to session II, participants will be expected to select an Arabic “problem” text and submit a 1-line extract along with a sample transliteration for discussion during the clinic.

Tickets and Booking

£75 professionals | £45 students, AKU alumni and staff. The number of tickets is limited; book your ticket soon.

*The course will be delivered via Zoom. Readings and further details will be provided later upon registration.

*This course will not be recorded.

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