Why is the name Пётръ Ильичъ Чайковскій transliterated as Petr Il'ich
Tchaikovsky on this site?
The Russian letter ё is pronounced yo, not e.
(The transliteration of Ильичъ as Il'ich is as close to the sound of the
composer's patronym as the English alphabet can get. His surname should
actually be transliterated as Chaykovskiy, but to his English admirers he
has been known as Tchaikovsky for the last 150 years, so there are valid
grounds for continuing to call him that. Anyway, 'Chaykovskiy' looks
outlandish and quite ridiculously affected. But you are inconsistent,
because you call his great Russian contemporary 'Rimskii-Korsakov', which is
accurate, but equally pedantic. Римский-Корсаков has been loved by the
English for just as long as Чайковскій, and we call him Rimsky-Korsakov!)
No-one in this country would dream of calling the composer of the Messiah
Firstly, I would make the point that transliteration is simply a means of
transcribing names from one alphabet system to another, and this isn't
designed to reflect the correct pronunciation in either language. The
transliteration system currently used on this site is that used by the
Library of Congress, with their diacritics and ligatures omitted. The same
system was used in
The Tchaikovsky Handbook, where after an introductory note, the
composer's surname is given as "Chaikovskii" throughout!
There are a few different methods of transliterating names from the
Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet, as illustrated on Wikipedia:
In fact the English-language version of Wikipedia also uses its own
... although this seems not always to be rigorously applied! The
Internet Music Score Library Project (IMSLP) uses something very similar:
If we were to follow the same rules here, then Petr Il'ich would
become Pyotr Ilyich, and Evgeniia Zhukovskaia would be
Yevgeniya Zhukovskaya, and Aleksei Tolstoi would become
Aleksey Tolstoy, for example. Some familiar names which have become
established in the west, such as Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff,
and Scriabin, would be retained, even though they should strictly be
Chaykovsky, Rakhmaninov and Skryabin.
If there is a clear desire among our a large section of our readership to
change to this alternative transliteration system, then we would seriously
Thank you, Mr Langston. I'm obliged to you for the links.