Which of Andrey or Andrei is the preferred transliteration of the Russian name Андрей into the English alphabet?
I checked Wikipedia, but it gives both variants.
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This is the second recent question about Romanizing proper names from languages that use the Cyrillic alphabet. I know little about any of these languages, but as this is an English Language site I feel this puts me in a good position to suggest general principles on which to decide this and similar questions. Let me list them (more or less in order of priority) before trying to apply them to the current case.
Individual preference. If the individual has a physical or literary presence in an English speaking country and elects for a particular Roman spelling, this should be respected.
Usage. If the name, despite being foreign, has a long history of a predominant spelling in English, this should be used as it will be familiar to readers.
Appearance and Pronounceability. If the name is not generally familiar to English speakers, a spelling is to be preferred that an English speaker can attempt a pronunciation of, even if it is the incorrect pronunciation in the original language.
Using pronunciation aids. If the name is unfamiliar and correct pronunciation is important for some reason, pronunciation aids such as diaresis marks may be an option.
Anglicization. If the individual thinks a correct pronunciation is important but impossible to achieve he may wish to translate the name into its English equivalent.
Applying these to the Andrey/Andrei question:
Individual preference. Although not relevant in this case, I came across two cases of elite Russian sportsmen who work or worked for a period in Britain or the US. Whether or not they were party to the choice, the sports clubs in question used different versions to publicize their acquisitions: Andrey Arshavin the former Arsenal footballer, and Andrei Kirilenko, the former NBA basketball player.
Usage. My impression is that the spelling Andrei is probably of greater and longer usage. Those my age will remember the newspaper spelling used in the 1980s for the Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov. Another touchstone is the spelling in Russian works of literature in translation. As far as I can see from internet searches both Andrei and Andrey Sergeyevich Prozorov are characters in Chekov’s Three Sisters, it is generally Andrei Semyonovich Lebezyatnikov in Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, but both Andrei and Andrey Gavrilovich Dubrovsky in Putshkin’s The Queen of Spades. Most of these editions retrieved were relatively modern, however and do not speak to historical practice.
Appearance and Pronounceability. Andrey could be English — change the ‘n’ to ‘u’ and you get ‘Audrey’ (although wrong sex) — but not Andrei or Andrej.
Using pronunciation aids. If the e and i or e and y are separate vowels, rather than a diphthong — the poster gives no indication whether this is so, so I feel quite at liberty to assume that this is a possibility — then one could use Andreï, for example. However that would be rather academic, French rather than English in style, and I suspect ordinary people know how to pronounce Noël and Zoë because they have heard it spoken, rather than because they understand the function of the diaresis symbol. If it is a diphthong, on the other hand, the French, André, might be acceptable as it fairly well known in the English-speaking world (e.g. André Previn). It might, however, seem better suited to a concert pianist than, say, a heavyweight boxer.
Anglicization. Although there seems to have been a conspiracy to inflict an unbelievable non-English combination of vowels and consonants on English speakers for names in a language almost none of us speaks — Li Xiannian or Hu Qiaomu anyone? — many individuals with such names sojourning in the West have taken the more practical and time-honoured measure of adopting English names (especially if they are trying to sell you something). In this case, one might suggest Andrew, or Andy or even the Scottish Drew. Although a similar practice is standard with German — e.g. Ludwig XIV, or Heinrich V von Shakespeare — it is unusual (in Britain at least) except in exceptional circumstances (e.g. Kaiser Bill).
I personally would go for Andrei, but I suspect that in view of the recent unfathomable metamorphosis of Kiev into Kyiv, ‘y’ is the flavour of the month with anglophone media, in which case you might prefer Andrey. (But I wouldn’t consult an academic.)
Both seem like valid options, but a third is offered using the Scientific Transliteration of Cyrillic: Andrej.
The Romanization of Russian page suggests a more modern transliteration is i.
Knowing quite a few Russians though, the j option really doesn't seem right. I don't know many people called Андрей, but I do know quite a few called Сергей and all of these people transliterate their name as Sergei, suggesting that i is a more common transliteration of й, especially at the end of a name.
Although neither of these sources suggests y as a valid option, I've definitely seen it before. Ultimately I'd say it's up to the person in question how they want to transliterate their name.