Is it permissible to write out HaShem's actual name (the "Tetragrammaton") in English (or any other, non-Semitic, language)?

Does it make a difference how you spell it, ie., whether you write it in all consonants that are cognates to the Hebrew consonants, or whether you write the four consonants with V vs. W or J vs. Y, or whether you use the very common vocalized spelling that most scholars believe is incorrect (like the name of the "Witness" Christian sect)?

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    How do you plan on writing it out, if you don't know how to spell it? – Double AA Jan 7 '13 at 6:22
  • Do you mean writing "Adonay"? If so, the answer is yes; Rabbi Schwab writes it like that in his commentary on Adon Olam in Rav Schwab on Prayer (Artscroll) – b a Jan 7 '13 at 6:27
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    @Double AA - There are several variations of the YKVK name used in academic works. The J/W variations tend to be Germanic, the Y/V variations US/UK etc.. @b a - I think the OP is asking about YKVK, not the substitute names that are used. – Epicentre Jan 7 '13 at 7:46
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    @Epicentre understood me perfectly. – Seth J Jan 7 '13 at 14:23
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    @DoubleAA, people can either misspell it or spell it with different styles that may be more or less correct. – Seth J Jan 7 '13 at 14:23

As @Shmuel says in the comments, the issue is not in writing but in erasing. More specifically, the issue with writing is that it might lead to erasing (in the spirit of do not put a stumbling block in front of the blind).

So first one has to ask if there is a prohibition of erasing the name of God written in English. If yes then it would likely be prohibited to write it as well.

Briefly we learn from the Torah's commandment to destroy idolatry that we should not to destroy the name of God (see Dvarim 12:3-4). However most poskim rule that the name of God written in any language other than Hebrew has no holiness and can be erased. (Shach Y.D. 179:11; Mishnah Berurah 85:10). There should therefore be no halakhic prohibition to write it.

Nevertheless as mentioned here some poskim rule to be extra careful with names of God (e.g., the Aruch Hashulchan CM 27:3). This is likely going beyond the minimum law (similar to the Geonim quoted in commentaries to Nedarim 7) who have a chumra (stringency) to refrain from even saying a divine nickname in vain). See bottom of here.

See here and here for more sources from MiYodeya. And here and here from detailed studies on the topic by R Mordechai Friedman of VBM.

PS. I like the story about Rav Soloveitchik z"l intentionally writing GOD on the board while teaching a class and then just as deliberately and intentionally erasing it, so as to demonstrate by his own example that this was not halakhically a problem. But I couldn't find a source for it.

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    It's not just Lifnei Iveir. Writing God's name in an unerasable way means it will likely at some point not get treated with respect (including the ultimate burial which is the most respectful method of disposal, but still not 'respectful') which is in some sense you causing disrespect to come to a written name of God. – Double AA Dec 3 '15 at 5:10
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    One of the students who had been in that class when Rav Soloveitchik did this mentioned the incident on mail-jewish. I do not have the exact citation now, but I remember seeing it. shamash.org/lists/scj-faq/HTML/faq/11-03-01.html cites the Shach on this and mentions the story but does not give a source. – sabbahillel Apr 25 '16 at 3:24

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