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Language & Translation Issues > Letters not in the English alphabet

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Christina Stind | 60 comments I'm from Denmark and in Denmark, we have three letters not in the English alphabet: æ ø å
I'm curious as to what to do when correcting Danish book titles and author with these letters because goodreads seems to have a hard time with these when you search - and also, can English speaking users search for these authors if I correct them?
One author this could be a problem with is Cæcilie Lassen who is listed as Caecilie Lassen - that is ae instead of the correct æ.
Should this be corrected or will it create too much trouble???

Thanks, Christina

message 2: by Lisa (last edited Jan 12, 2009 08:10AM) (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) | 2409 comments My vote would be to make the spelling correct. We've done so for other foreign to English writing countries.

Edit: If the English translations show the "English" spelling of the name on the book covers, that's an issue, and that looks as though that might be the case??? Hmm, print too small, maybe not. Generally, I do think authors' names should be spelled the way they spell them.

message 3: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 41704 comments Mod
Generally, I do think authors' names should be spelled the way they spell them.

Agreed. However, in many cases they are not consistent. In those cases, I still vote for spelling them as they do on their "home state" covers.

Christina Stind | 60 comments Thanks you two :-)
It's an issue with a lot of Danish writers (Peter Høeg, Cæcilie Lassen, Per Højholt among others) so I just wanted to make sure that I was doing the correct thing when I changed them to the Danish spelling...

message 5: by Storm (new)

Storm (stormheart) | 5 comments I have found the same issue with Hungarian writers too.

In Hungarian we have:
Character --- Replaced with in english
á --- a
é --- é
í --- i
ó --- o
ö --- o
ő --- o
ú --- u
ü --- u
ű --- u

Like for example I have seen many of the books of Mária Szepes with the author Maria Szepes. Moreover, when I have uploaded a book from here with her name written correctly, that created a new author, so now Maria Szepes and Mária Szepes are two separate authors.

I would like to correct the wrongly spelled one.

And by the way, I think this issue can be solved in an easy way.
We need the possibility of defining alternate spellings for author names. So all author page would contain, by default, the correct writing, as the Author would write his/her name, only this name would showing on the Author page, but books entered with the alternate author writing would still be connected to that author. So in this way people can enter books with even incorrect name format, if the name is incorrect on the original book cover too, and still have the book connected to the right author. So for each Author we would add all the possible combinations of mispellings of non-english characters.
Basically, Author names would work like tags. Also, this would allow people to search for any version of that name, and having the results with all versions.

For example: On the Author page of a writer called "Sándor Szathmáry":
Author name: Sándor Szathmáry
Alternate spellings:
- Sandor Szathmary
- Sándor Szathmary
- Sandor Szathmáry

I added all the possible combinations: first spec. char. mispelled, second mispelled, both mispelled.
Then a book entereted with any of the alternate spellings will be connected to this author, and searching on any alternate spellings will shows all books with the author of any of the four spelling versions.

Also, when I check out the books of Szathmáry, and I see that there are some books where his name is entered incorrectly, I can check out if that spelling is on the book cover, or the one who added the book only mispelled it, or did not know how to insert the non-english characters.

An other possible solution is using special format tags in Author names that are only visible when a librarian edits the Author. So for example for Sándor Szathmáry, it could look like:

Author name: S[á|a:]ndor Szathm[á|a:]ry

In my example, in the [ :] at first I define the correct character, and then, I can define any incorrect replacement of the character.

Peter Høeg --> Peter H[ø|o:]eg
Cæcilie Lassen --> C[æ|ae|e:]cilie Lassen

Any of these two methods could be used in book titles too so somebody searching for "Voros Oroszlan" will still get "Vörös Oroszlán" in the results, and vica versa.

Also, in case somebody would enter a book with an author, publisher or title he/she can't correctly spell, as the keyboard do not has the needed characters, it would be helpful to have a link next to each textfield: (insert special character). That could pup up a JavaScript/AJAX window with all special characters we know, and they cozuld insert them by clicking. Also, if we use the format tags in texts, theis tool can directly insert such a tag, so when the user clicks on inserting "Ő", it will insert "[Ő|O:]". And those users who are not familiar with this, and can't understand it can simply ignore it, and librarians will correct them later.

So, for this moment only this some ideas came into my mind. Feel free to discuss them, adn I may add more soon.

message 6: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 41704 comments Mod
What you're asking for is the author aka function, which is on the list. However, it essentially means redoing the current author database system (as I understand it), and is a big project.

message 7: by Storm (new)

Storm (stormheart) | 5 comments Ah, good to hear it is already in plan! Than I wish good luck to the Developers in realizing it. :)

message 8: by هانى (last edited Feb 10, 2009 09:57AM) (new)

هانى Abdelaal (hanyabdelaal) | 1 comments I agree very much with Storm's Idea (message 5):

1- You can search for non-English authors easily using the English letters.

2- Combine translated books with the original book keeping the translated name (in non-English alphabet languages, usually the translator use a non-English author). For example, Paulo Coelho is written in arabic-translated books as باولو كويلهو

message 9: by Jenna (new)

Jenna | 23 comments 1) Storm has some valid points -- so to be clear, we should use the (foreign to English) characters, if entering a new author/book title?

2)Does anyone know, if the author's name is only spelled with the foreign language characters -- totally random example -- let's say "Hammershøi" but someone typed in "Hammershoi" -- because this person either did not know/could not input the foreign character -- would Hammershøi still come up? Or would this person think Hammershøi is not in the database?

3) Have there been any problems with putting in foreign characters, and they look fine on your screen, but then you come back later, and they've turned into gibberish? I do some editing over at and say I change the title to the correct spelling, that required as "á"-- I can come back later and see its metamorphisized into @ or something equally odd. Or vice versa, I'll see a foreign language title like Les Mis%rables and I can only assume that somehow the system is having issues with the special characters/symbols? Has that been of any concern here?

Thanks for feedback/advice!

message 10: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) | 2409 comments Hammershøi and Hammershoi would be treated as 2 separate authors and would not necessarily come up on a search. That's been my experience anyway. I do think we should use foreign characters for foreign language book titles. Re authors, that's an interesting issue. I always vote for them to be entered the way they spell their names, so with the foreign language characters. We really need that AKA feature if there's any way at all to create that feature here. It must be a particularly difficult challenge since it's been on Goodreads to do list from practically the beginning.

message 11: by Cyn (new)

Cyn Armistead (technomom) | 159 comments Jenna, I'm fairly sure that most of the odd metamorphoses here are due to Amazon. Their system doesn't seem to handle special characters well at times, yet in others it's just fine. Maybe, to be more specific, whoever entered the title at Amazon messed up the special characters, then GoodReads imported them. I fix those whenever I see them, too.

message 12: by Reid (new)

Reid (reido) | 14 comments Is there a table anywhere of how to place non-English characters into titles and author names? I tried HTML for an umlat-O and it did not work. I used cut-and-paste from Word to make "Chödrön"; is that the right way to do it, or is there an easier one? Thanks!

message 13: by Cyn (new)

Cyn Armistead (technomom) | 159 comments I haven't come across a web page with such things, but it may be something to add to the help document I'm writing.

There are several other ways to do it, though, depending on your operating system and browser.

• Windows users can always open the Character Map accessory and cup & paste from there.

• There are several good Firefox extensions that will insert such characters. I've had good results with abctajpu. EasyAccent looks to be a possibility, too.

I'm sure there are tools for other OS's and browsers, but I don't know about them. I'd like to, though!

message 14: by Cait (new)

Cait (tigercait) | 5005 comments Generally I do a Google search on the author's name (without accents). For a popular author, an accented version of the name should be in the first few hits and I can cut and paste from there.

message 15: by Reid (new)

Reid (reido) | 14 comments Cyn wrote: "I haven't come across a web page with such things, but it may be something to add to the help document I'm writing.

There are several other ways to do it, though, depending on your operating syste..."

I use Firefox, so I will check out your suggestion. Thanks!

message 16: by Reid (new)

Reid (reido) | 14 comments Cait wrote: "Generally I do a Google search on the author's name (without accents). For a popular author, an accented version of the name should be in the first few hits and I can cut and paste from there."

Thanks, I'll give that a try if I get stuck.

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