Transliteration of “Боженци”: Bonus Post

29.07.2012 § Leave a comment

While I was writing about the village of Bozhentsi, I came face to face with a very common issue that occurs when converting between alphabets: transliteration. Not only do some Cyrillic letters lack direct equivalents, they are also differently transliterated in different Western languages. I’ll use the name of the village of Bozhentsi as an example.


The name of the village in Bulgarian is Боженци. Out of seven letters, two are problematic. The first is ж, which is pronounced as the final sound in the word “luge”. It is variously transliterated as “j”, “zh”, or “ž”. The other is ц, the final sound in the word “blitz”, which can become “c”, “ts”, “tz”, or “z”. So, in a single seven-letter place name, we have 3 x 4 = 12 transliteration possibilities.

Here they are, by Google popularity:

  • Bozhenci – 405 000
  • Bojentsi – 147 000
  • Bozhentsi – 141 000
  • Bojentzi – 69 900
  • Bojenci – 32 800
  • Bojenzi – 20 900
  • Bozhentzi – 10 100
  • Boženci – 7 310
  • Bozhenzi – 600
  • Božentsi – 3
  • Božentzi – 0
  • Boženzi – 0

The village is listed as “Bojentsi” on its official site and “Bozhentsi” on Wikipedia.

Beware the Ж-abberwock, my son! The “usual suspects” in transliteration are the letters Ж, Й, Ц, Ч, Ш, Щ, Ъ, Ю, Я.

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