Arabic-English Transliteration

Today I received an interesting email from a reader of this blog, asking me about software that is capable of converting Arabic text into transliterated Arabic:

Dear Max,

I know there are online tools where I can enter the word رسول‎ and it
will tell me the translation ‘messenger’ but can you please tell me
somewhere that I can enter رسول‎ and it will tell me the
transliteration ‘rasul’?

thank you

Once I finished writing my reply, I thought that it might be of interest to other Arabic learners. So here it goes:

Hi there,

unfortunately I’ve never seen such a tool. It would certainly be very interesting to see it developed.

One of the problems is of course, that the Arabic script does not usually have the short vowels written out. So رسول could be “raswal”, “risool”, “ruswil”, “rusool” etc.

The program would have to be intelligent enough to know if these words really exist in Arabic. Also, it would have to know some Arabic grammar to distinguish e.g. اكتب “aktub” (I write) from “uktub” (write!).

Generally, this knowledge assumes the ability of identifying words from context.

Ultimately, I think that it would take too much effort, time and money to develop such a program, when the Arabic script can be learned relatively easily with the right method (e.g. using my book The Magic Key To The Arabic Alphabet).

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