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When it comes to pronouncing hebrew in Judaism there are various customs involved. E.g. Chassidim pronounce words one way, Litfish another way, and Sefardim yet another way.

Is there a standard way to transliterate Jewish prayers into English where all these three would be taken into account, or does each require a separate transliteration?

For example, how would one transliterate the Bracha:

ברוך אתה ד' אלוקינו מלך העולם, שהכל נהיה בדברו

?

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2 Answers

I almost burst out laughing at the question in the title. After reading the full question, I have to say that it's obvious you put some serious thought into this. Unfortunately, I think there is no standard way to transliterate Hebrew into English, even within traditions. ך can be transliterated "ch" or "kh" or "h"; ת can be transliterated "t" or "s" or "th"; etc. There are many other discrepancies, and we haven't even gotten to vowels, yet.

Sorry for my cynical initial reaction. Unfortunately, you have to tailor your transliteration to your audience or stand firm to your own standards and hope that your audience will respect your choices. But, by all means, be consistent (at least within the piece you are transliterating).

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I'm not sure why prayers would be different from any other Hebrew text. There are various standards of transliteration for Hebrew, including one (popular in academic literature, from what I understand) that uses:

ʼ b g d h w z ḥ ṭ y k l m n s ʻ p r š ś t

corresponding (respectively) to

‭א ב ג ד ה ו ז ח ט י כ ל מ נ ס ע פ ר שׁ שׂ ת‬

(with variants for צ and ק). ISO 259 is similar.

But no, there's no one standard.

(That's disregarding dialectal pronunciations, which is — if I understand the question correctly — what you ask us answerers to do. For specific dialects, on the other hand, there may be standards: for example, it's conceivable that all Moroccan transliterators into English use the same system, and it's become standard. I don't know of any such standards for any dialect, but I wouldn't necessarily.)

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On your last sentence in the parentheses, you wouldn't necessarily what? –  Seth J Sep 8 '11 at 18:56
    
be aware of any such standards (I assume ) –  avi Sep 8 '11 at 18:59
    
To add to this answer, the Israeli government also has a standard transliteration, but almost nobody in America uses that system. –  avi Sep 8 '11 at 19:00
    
@SethJ, know of any such standards for any dialect. –  msh210 Sep 8 '11 at 19:02
    
None. I mean, there are certainly those who have attempted to standardize transliterations. See Wikipedia for some rules: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hebrew_transliteration But I don't think anything has really caught on outside some very tight academic circles. And even within academic circles you can find variances, probably because each "expert" believes he has the best method in comparison to his peers. –  Seth J Sep 8 '11 at 19:17
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