Ukrainian-Latin transliteration

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Selecting the desired Ukrainian-Latin transliteration

Вулиці Львова (транслітерація).jpg

In modern life writing a Ukrainian text in another language alphabet is often required. This procedure is called transliteration. Primarily transliteration is demanded in Internet applications and the mobile environment, for translation of proper nouns including toponymic names, as well as in foreign dictionaries when displaying the phonetic sound of Ukrainian words is needed, etc.

Transliteration, by definition, is the conversion of one written language to letters of another alphabet [1]. This article is built using the material of a Ukrainian-Latin online transliterator [2].

As it is seen from the presented table of standards for today there are at least 12 Ukrainian-Latin transliteration standards available, so an issue of selecting a proper transliteration looks quite natural.

This choice can be done based on certain criteria. In particular, these include:

  1. Computer compatibility or URL-compatibility, is fundamentally important for the Internet and mobile environment, preferably diacritic characters and Unicode support are not required;
  2. Reversible transliteration, can be characterized in the following scale: "full", "almost full", "not full"; full reversibility is ensured in the case of each symbol (letter) reversibility and Internet use requires Unicode support; does not require knowledge of the Ukrainian language; the main field of use - printing application such as Ukrainian proper names in official documents for international use, Ukrainian toponimic signs with names of streets, cities, etc.)
  3. Phonetic pronunciation, useful for correct pronunciation of Ukrainian words by speeakers in some foreign languages;
  4. Other criteria can be defined.

Apparently, some of the presented criteria are mutually exclusive. Therefore, selection criteria should be based on specific transliteration applications, but within a particular application it is important to follow the principle - a selected standard must meet the selected criterion (criteria) as best as possible.

Even a cursory glance makes it possible to divide presented in the table standards into three groups according and in order of the three criteria above:

  1. Computer compatibility or URL-compatibility:
  2. Transliteration reversibility:
  3. Phonetic pronunciation:

Conclusions and Suggestions

The analysis of the available transliteration standards allows to conclude that transliteration standards officially used in Ukraine (i.e. KMU 2010 and UKPPT 1996) do not suit the best the transliteration reversibility test. That made and will make in the future problems following the ambiguity related to errors of reverse transliteration.

Also, analysis of the available standards makes it possible to determine such leaders in the first (Computer compatibility) and the second (transliteration reversibility) groups, namely:

  1. Computer compatibility or URL-compatibility: 2. TKPN;
  2. Reversible transliteration: 10. ISO 9:1995 (GOST 7.79 A).

Standards of the third group (phonetic pronunciation) do need determining of their leaders because of their specific use.

Table of Ukrainian-Latin transliteration standards

Table 1. Ukrainian transliteration standards (only letters with transliteration variety)
U L 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
' '   ' '   "       " '    
В в v v v v v v v v v v w v
Г г h gh g h h h h h h g h h
Ґ ґ g g g g g g g g g g g
Є є ie je je ie ye i-e je je je ê je ie
Ж ж zh zh zh zh zh z-h ž ž ž ž sch j
З з z z z z z z z z z z s z
И и y y y y y y y y y i y y
Ї ї i ji ji i yi ï ji ji ї ï ji ï
Й й i j j i y ĭ j j j j j y
У у u u u u u u u u u u u ou
Х х kh kh kh kh kh kh ch ch ch h ch kh
Ц ц ts c cz ts ts t-s c c c c z ts
Ч ч ch ch ch ch ch ch č č č č tsch tch
Ш ш sh sh sh sh sh sh š š š š sch ch
Щ щ shch shh shh sch shch shch šč šč šč ŝ schtsch chtch
Ю ю iu ju ju iu yu i-u ju ju ju û ju iou
Я я ia ja ja ia ya i-a ja ja ja â ja ia
Ь ь   j j   ' '   ' ' '    
Table 2. Letters having similar transliteration
Uppercase Lowercase Latin
А а a
Б б b
Д д d
Е е e
І і i
К к k
Л л l
М м m
Н н n
О о o
П п p
Р р r
С с s
Т т t
Ф ф f

Description of Table 1 header

U. Uppercase letters
L. Lowercase letters
1. Passport (KMU 2010)
3. GOST 7.79-2000 B
4. UKPPT 1996 (Simplified)
5. BGN/PCGN (1965)
7. Ukrainian Latin
8. Science (traditional)
9. Science (ISO/R 9:1968)
10. ISO 9:1995 (GOST 7.79 A)
11. German transliteration
12. French transliteration

Available transliteration standards

Passport (KMU 2010)

The standard adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in 2010. Used as a transliteration for foreign and diplomatic passports. However, for transliteration of Ukrainian geographical names in international practice, a simplified version of standard UKPPT 1996 is used.

Transliteration is single-directional: many Ukrainian words written to this same standard (e.g., "дій" and "дії"). Apostrophe and soft sign are not displayed.

Only simple Latin characters are used (maximum computer compatibility).


The standard transliteration was developed Terminology Commission of Natural Sciences (TKPN) of Kyiv National Taras Shevchenko University in 1994.

Unlike other standards, it has several advantages including the almost complete reversibility and, at the same time, the maximum compatibility with computer encoding (URL-compatibility).

It has not been approved as a standard in Ukraine. Instead, in some official purposes other transliteration standards are used: for writing Ukrainian geographic names in international practice standard UKPPT 1996 is used and transliteration of names in passports for the time being is performed by standard KMU 2010. Internationally spread Ukrainian transliteration standard for general purpose is a system BGN/PCGN.

Standard Ukrainian-Latin transliteration TKPN 1994

GOST 7.79-2000 B

Unlike the system A of International Standard GOST 7.79-2000 adopted in a number of CIS countries the system B sets some rules for transliteration for some Slavic languages. Although the transliteration system B lucks flexibility inherent to the system B, it acquires more computer encoding compatibilty.

This is the only transliteration, in which the character ` (gravis) is used for Ukrainian writing.

Transliteration is reversible and has high computer compatibility

UKPPT 1996 (simplified)

Adopted by Ukrainian Commission for Legal Terminology (UKPPT) in 1996. It is used in international practice for transliteration of Ukrainian names of geographical objects - in use at the UN. The only transliteration standard that (in simplified form) provides some simplification for doubling of consonants (e.g., Zaporizhzhia → Zaporizhia).

Transliteration is single-directional: many Ukrainian words written to this standard look the same (e.g., "дій" and "дії"). In the strict variant, soft mark and apostrophe are written similarly as apostrophe. In simplified variant - apostrophe is not displayed, but used to for soft sign conversion at some positions.

The last passport transliteration table is based on this standard.

Transliteration is well computer-compatible .

BGN/PCGN (1965)

System BGN/PCGN is a series of standards for transliteration adopted by Board on Geographic Names (BGN, USA) and the Permanent Committee on Geographical Names for British Official Use (PCGN, UK). This method of Ukrainian alphabet conversion was last revised in 1965.

This standard focuses on intuitive pronunciations by native English speakers. Used in the UN. One of the most common standards for transliteration of Ukrainian language.

Its feature is the use of symbol · (middle point) to avoid ambiguity in rare cases (e.g., "зграя" = "z·hraya"). However, it is not reversed through the same entry letters "и" and "й".

Despite the simplicity and clarity of this standard, in Ukraine it has not been approved.


The standard transliteration of the Library of Congress, USA. It was first published in 1885 by the American Library Association (ALA). The feature of this system is in using a diacritic sign unifying two characters (it is, in practice, often dropped down).

Used for transcribing bibliographic names in North-American libraries and the British Library (for acquisitions after 1975), and also in English publications.

It is not fully reversible (apostrophe is not displayed).

Requires Unicode (diacritic Latin symbols, unifying diacritic sign).

Ukrainian Latin

The most popular Latin transliteration today, which is used as an alternative Ukrainian writing, is the so-called Ukrainian Latin (UL). In particular, the system used on the site [].

By its own the Ukrainian Latin is similar to traditional scientific transliteration, but contains a number of features, including letter ý (read as "ий"), and softened letters: ď, ź, ĺ, ń, ś, ť, ć.

Ukrainian Latin is not fully reversed. Words of other languages (including Russian), it can never recorded. Requires Unicode support (diacritic signs).

Scientific (traditional)

Scientific (or linguistic) transliteration has been used since 1898 to display the Slavic languages, particularly in international scientific publications and foreign libraries. The common name - Prussian instructions (Preußische Instruktionen). This system is based on Croatian Latin and predominantly phonemic: the majority of letters of this transliteration reproduce specific phonemes of a certain Slavic language.

In the traditional version apostrophe does not reproduced, but its support appears in a variation of this system, codified as a standard ISO/R 9:1968. All characters are back reproducible except apostrophe.

Requires Unicode support (diacritic Latin symbols).

Scientific (ISO/R 9:1968)

This standard originated in 1968 as an adaptation of the traditional scientific transliteration of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). As well as its predecessor this transliteration is mostly phonetic, and provides different ways to render letters for various Slavic languages. The new standard ISO 9:1995 refuses such an approach in favor of by-character transliteration.

In Germany, the standard was adopted without changes and called DIN 1460 (1982). It is used by the German National Library.

Transliteration is reversible.

Requires Unicode support (Latin with diacritic signs).

ISO 9:1995 (GOST 7.79 A)

This standard establishes the by-character transliteration of Cyrillic characters to Latin. Unlike previous ISO standards, including ISO/R 9:1968, this system establishes a single table for transliteration of all the Cyrillic alphabets of Slavic and some non-Slavic languages. That is why the transliteration is fully reversible: an exact reproduction of the original text is possible even in ignorance of a source language.

In Russia, Belarus, and in several other countries of the CIS, this transliteration was adopted in the standard GOST 7.79-2000.

Requires Unicode (Latin with diacritic symbols).

German transliteration

German transcription of Ukrainian words into Latin is focused on intuitive pronunciations by native Germans. As a standard transcription this system is used in the 22nd edition of the Big German dictionary of Duden (2000).

This transcription is not completely reversed. However, for accurate transliteration some other standards are used in Germany: ISO/R 9 (also known as wissenschaftliche or DIN 1460) and ISO 9.

French transliteration

French transcription of Ukrainian words int Latin is focused on intuitive pronunciations by native Frenches. As a standard transcription this system is used in the "French Dictionary" of Jean Zhyrode (1976).

Transcription is totally reversed. Requires Unicode (Latin symbol ï).


  1. 'Transliteration', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 12 May 2013, 15:11 UTC, <//> (accessed 5 June 2013)
  2. Standard Ukrainian transliteration (in Ukrainian), <>
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