Suppose I want to translate an Italian name like Guglielmo. Do I first translate it in a language with a pronunciation closer to Esperanto (for example, William in English), or do I adapt it directly from Italian?
Should I translate it in a specific language, before translating it to Esperanto? Guglielmo comes from the Germanic Willihelm or Willahelm. Does that mean I should translate it to German, and then in Esperanto?

In the specific example I made, the Esperanto Vilhelmo is closer to the Danish (or Swedish) Vilhelm.

  • I think it's not really translation it's adaptation for convenience
    – benahm
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 17:10
  • I mean translate as in get the word in a language given a word in another language.
    – apaderno
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 17:12

2 Answers 2


When transliterating names you always have two choices: Do you want to approximate the way the name sound as closely as possible, or do you want to closely match the way the name is written? You usually want to have the former for personal names, but the latter may be useful, lest the name become unrecognizable (for city's this might be convenient).

In this case, since it's a personal name, I would just try to match the sounds as closely as possible. As far as I know, Guglielmo is pronounced more or less like [ɡuˈʎɛlmo], which I would transliterate to Guljelmo. There is no reason to first convert the name to English or another language.

However, if you're transliterating the name of a foreign, usually famous, person, I would recommend transliterating the name from the original language and not the Italianized name. So if there is some Dutch person called Wilhelm /ˈʋɪlɦɛlm/ and you use the name Guglielmo in Italian, then don't transliterate this to Guljelmo, but use the original Dutch name to obtain Vilhelmo or something similar.


I think you are free to use the original spelling name, use a transliteration as commented by Joffysloffy or use the most common variant in Esperanto. You can find variants of some names on Wikipedia.

On Wikipedia is written that the Italian name Guglielmo is a variant of the old Germanic name Wilhelm. The variant for Esperanto shown there is Vilhelmo.

Some other examples on Wikipedia:

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