Transcription, Transliteration and Translation

If you were going to annotate a scan of foreign language document, how would you mark the associated Notes?

Let’s take an extreme example… assume that we have a family adoption record on a cuneiform clay tablet from the British Museum¹.

This image will have a series of Notes attached: a transcription in cuneiform unicode, a transliteration into phonetics, translations into 2 modern languages, and a commentary/summary.

What Note “Type” would you use for each separate note?

Is there a way to associate Notes that are direct Translations of one another? i.e., the language codes might be Akkadian = akk, British dialect English = en-GB, and German = de. Should the language code be embedded by using the same Note ID with language suffixes?

¹Inscription note: adoption of a boy, Sin-sharrum by A'-rabut-Sin and his wife from his two elder brothers. Fee of six shekels of silver paid.

Alternate example: the genealogy of Cyrus the Great in cuneiform
Cyrus II of Persia (c. 600–530 BC; Old Persian: 𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁 Kūruš)

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Strictly speaking, a translation could be considered a separate source document. In this case, at least, it is the work of a different author at a different time. And different people might very well translate it differently.

Transcription, on the other hand, is more objective – although in the case of reading ancient clay tablets, or rather, two-dimensional images of them, that may not be the case!

But even with separate sources, you still have the issue of how to relate them. I probably wouldn’t use the IDs to do that.


I’ve tried to normalize my source titles so for this I would probably use something like that:

  • 1st source: Adoption of a boy, Sin-sharrum by A’-rabut-Sin and his wife; Cuneiform clay tablet
  • 2nd source: Adoption of a boy, Sin-sharrum by A’-rabut-Sin and his wife; Cuneiform clay tablet. Translation

They would appear nicely in sources list, following each other.

About notes (probably attached to the 2nd or may be a 3rd source), translation note type would be a transcription note because I can’t translate myself Akkadian, so, done by someone else, I would use a transcription of his/her translation; same thing for the same reasons about transcription in cuneiform unicode and transliteration into phonetics.

I would use a summary note in the 1st source, may be typed General(?), to link it to other notes in 2nd (and 3rd?) source(s).

In 2nd source, the transcription of the translation, I probably would share the same reference to the repository than to the 1st one to cross reference them (?).

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