The Founding Myths of Israel: Nationalism, Socialism, and the Making of the Jewish State

By Zeev Sternhell; David Maisel | Go to book overview

A Note on the Transliteration
of Hebrew Names and the
Translation of Hebrew Book Titles

There are various ways to transliterate Hebrew terms into other languages— especially Hebrew names. Transliteration into English takes pronunciation into account, but there are no general rules. Moreover, usages have sprung up over the years that have become entrenched, although they do not always correspond to the rules that are nevertheless accepted.

First names present a special problem. Various people spell, or have spelled, the same name in different ways. Weizmann and Arlosoroff have spelled their first name as CHAIM, while many other people, including Israeli scholars whose works are mentioned in this book—Barkai or Golan, for instance—spell it as HAIM. I choose to write YOSEF HAIM BRENNER, although Brenner's Israeli publisher, Dvir, spells it JOSEFH CHAYIM; and Arthur Herzberg, in his anthology The Zionist Idea (New York: Atheneum, 1977) prefers JOSEPH HAYYIM. Syrkin's first name is spelled equally often as NAHMAN or as NACHMAN, as his daughter spells it in her biography of her father. The same problem exists with such names as NAHUM and NACHUM, ISRAEL and YISRAEL, AARON and AHARON, as well as many others. It can also happen that the same name appears in different forms because the owner himself is inconsistent. And finally, inconsistencies themselves are common in writing.

Translating titles of books written in Hebrew that have not been translated into English poses another problem. These books include those that have been given English titles by the Israeli publisher for commercial reasons or for the purpose of cataloguing in foreign librairies. Such titles are sometimes completely different from the original ones. A case in point is a book by historian Anita Shapira, the translation of whose Hebrew title would be Going toward the Horizon (Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 1989), but which the publisher called Visions in Conflict. In this case, as in others, I have preferred to give the translation of the original Hebrew title, which is more expressive of the nature of the book than its English alternative.

-xv-

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