One of the hardest things about working on Ajami manuscripts is interpreting the African language that is written in the Arabic script. This is because oftentimes certain contrastive sounds (phonemes, nasalization, tone) are not marked.
To get from the original Arabic to a proper interpretation of the African language, we start by typesetting the Arabic orthographic representation; that is, we type out what is written by hand. Next, we transliterate that Arabic representation into the Latin script.
Of course, we aren’t done then — we still need to attempt to interpret the transliteration into a practical (for us) Latin-based orthography appropriate for the language in question and offer a translation — but for now we’ll stop there because we wanted to announce that we’ve written and posted online the transliteration scheme that we are currently using. We’ve added it to our general Tools & Resources page which basically outlines our whole workflow at this point.
Hope it’s helpful for others working on Ajami manuscripts. Any questions, feedback or issues that you see, please let us know!