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I am an editor editing a book review, and I'm not sure how to deal with this:

  • Serhii Bilokin’’s book

The author has chosen to transliterate with the apostrophe at the end of the name, but it looks very odd with the English possessive tacked on at the end. I know that the the apostrophe in Ukrainian language/names changes the pronunciation of the surrounding letters, but that's about it, so I'm not sure how integral the apostrophe is to the name. (I've seen it transliterated with and without, so I assume there are multiple right ways, but I'd prefer to respect the author's choices.) I'm having a terrible time trying to find precedents to base my decisions on here. I assume the issue is extra-grammatical. Any insight is appreciated! This type of thing fascinates me, but it's also very confusing.

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    Either Anglicize the name or use the Ukrainian possessive. That's how we do in English.
    – R Mac
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 3:29
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    The author’s name as it appears in the headline of the article should match its use on the book’s title page. If so, I’d avoid this problem by saying “The book Serhii Bilokin’ has written . . .” Or Serhii Bilokin’ has written a book that . . .” You can then refer to it as the book or his book. Otherwise you distract and confuse.
    – Xanne
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 6:53
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    What change does the apostrophe make to the pronunciation of the name? My understanding is that Ukrainian is usually written in Cyrillic script so the Roman alphabet transliteration is an approximation anyway and apostrophes don't change pronunciation in Roman script. For me a better solution would be to change the transliteration to reflect the changed pronunciation (for instance Bilokinh) and then add a possessive apostrophe 's'
    – BoldBen
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 16:38
  • This is a scholarly context, and the author is following the Library of Congress transliteration recommendations. Given that, I think Xanne is probably in the right here--though my understanding is that the book being referenced is in Ukrainian, so matching is a bit looser of a concept. Thank you all for your perspectives!
    – detecafix
    Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 17:02

1 Answer 1

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I'm Ukrainian, but I can not imagine the double single quotation mark as something acceptable to native English speaker. So, my version is "Angicize", as R Mac called it. It may be as simple as "Serhii Bilokin’s book".

The author's way of transliterating his first name is a little bit of formal. This way is used in official rules of our authorities, something that is not in line with the common everyday practice. I may assume that the same "official" approach has generated the quotation mark at the end. We may suppose it's not a matter of author's deep belief - and Anglicize it. We may err though :)

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  • Thank you, for taking the time to respond! The piece is a bit formal; he is an archivist and it is a scholarly context. In fact, I followed up with him as well and found out he follows the Library of Congress transliteration system. But, it is good to know it seems odd to everyone! I think recasting will be the best solution. :)
    – detecafix
    Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 17:05
  • I'd vote for Xanna's idea. Commented Mar 28, 2020 at 20:39

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