This paper reviews two major issues which account for much of the variation in representing Arabic using Latin characters. Since the Latinisation of Arabic entails encoding additional phonetic information(by adding short vowels), how we choose to represent Arabic for Latinisation becomes a central issue. This representation may either reflect the Modern Standard Arabic pronunciation or the colloquial pronunciation – both of which may have the same graphemic representation in Arabic script with no short vowels shown. A closely related issue is how faithful Latinised Arabic should be to Arabic sounds.The special characters devised by some schemes to annotate Arabic sounds are not readily accessible to laypersons, and therefore have very specialised applications. More accessible forms relying solely on the English character set have been less phonetically faithful to Arabic andonly attempt to approximate rather than simulate Arabic sounds. A contemporary style of Latinisation commonly found online today has attempted to do this through the use of numerals, but this form is mainly intended for communication between native Arabic speakers. While unfaithful representation of Arabic sounds may distance Arabic speakers,representations that are too faithful may alienate non-speakers of Arabic.These issues must be carefully considered and accounted for in any attempt to develop a common Latinisation scheme.
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