For those who don’t know, transliteration is the practice of rendering letters of a foreign alphabet into English letters that correspond roughly in sound to the foreign letters. I doubt that I’m the only one who dislikes the practice. Especially with Hebrew transliteration, I feel that it only slows down one’s reading of, say, a commentary when it has transliteration. After all, it isn’t going to help the English-only reader very much, and it only slows down the person who can read Hebrew, since they have to back-transliterate the English into Hebrew characters. So it really doesn’t help very much. The most ridiculous commentaries in this regard are the Anchor Bible Commentaries from Yale Press. Honestly, those commentaries are pretty much the most technical commentaries available today, and yet they use transliteration to “help” the person in the pew! I’ve got news for them. The people in the pew don’t read the Anchor Bible Commentary series very often. I’ve known only a very few who have read any of them. The category of “educated layman” is becoming virtually extinct. The AB commentaries are scholarly commentaries, in which case they shouldn’t need to use transliteration!
Transliteration is marginally more helpful in Greek, since English-only readers could theoretically benefit by being able to look up transliterated words in some language helps. Furthermore, there are considerably more words in Greek that are cognate with English than with Hebrew. However, doing this kind of work is known as “dabbling.” Dabbling is a very dangerous thing, because the person usually learns just enough to make themselves dangerous, while not really learning enough to help them read the Greek New Testament. If they desire to read the Greek New Testament, then they should go all out and learn Greek!
If there is anyone in the publishing business who is reading this, please eschew transliteration! It is pretty much only annoying to those who can read the original, and it doesn’t really help those who can’t. And, given the deterioration of the educated layman, there isn’t really a market left for it.