Which transliterated version of a surname sounds better, Potyomkin or Potemkin?

By: | Post date: 2017-02-14 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: English, Linguistics, Other Languages

Yes, English routinely transliterates Cyrillic Ё as E. For that matter, Russian routinely writes Ё as Е. Our transliterations (and your default orthography) aren’t up to date with the last couple of centuries of sound change in Russian.

Potemkin is the most familiar version to English-speakers, since “Potemkin village” is a well known expression (and one they tend to have seen only in print). If they are somewhat educated, but do not speak Russian, they will actually be confused by Potyomkin.

So I’d go with the established, conventional Potemkin rather than the phonetically accurate Potyomkin, myself. But that’s not the modern trend in English; the modern trend is for phonetics over convention (e.g. Beijing not Peking). Not Moskva yet, though.

Leave a Reply

  • Subscribe to Blog via Email

    Join 300 other subscribers

  • August 2018
    M T W T F S S
    « Jan    
     12345
    6789101112
    13141516171819
    20212223242526
    2728293031  
%d bloggers like this: