Searching in non-Roman script

General Recommendations for Searching

Search by Romanization

For research in languages using non-Roman scripts, such as Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, and Russian, searching by Romanization is usually the most effective and reliable way to find non-roman language materials in Orbis.


Use an authoritative dictionary as reference for transliteration/Romanization; Yale University Library catalogers follow the Library of Congress rules for Romanization.  Please note that Romanization standards have changed over the years, so you may need to try variants, especially for older items.


Searching by the vernacular script (i.e. characters) is recommended as a good starting point for users who are unfamiliar with Romanization and can be a more efficient way for finding known titles than searching with Romanization, especially for those more comfortable with the language. Non-Roman characters can be searched as keyword, author names, & titles. All subject headings, however, use English-language terms.  Not all items have vernacular script in the record.

Word Division

Pay special attention to the word division rules; word division can be challenging, both for non-native speakers and native speakers of each language.
Example 1: articles are included in Arabic and Hebrew searches; prepositions use a dash in Romanization of Hebrew

Example 2: Sanskrit, Prakrit, and Pali compounds are transliterated irregularly.  They will sometimes be transliterated as a single word, they will sometimes have dashes between the parts of the compound, and they will sometimes be broken up into their constituent parts with spaces between them.


Be flexible--try a different transliteration or word division if no result is returned.  Start small and expand the search to narrow results.

Known issues

Variation in spelling:

Titles, Authors, etc. can have a variety of spellings within the catalog and only the specific spelling will retrieve that search result.  For example, the variants of Mao Zedong are: 毛澤東 ( Traditional Chinese) and 毛泽东 (Simplified Chinese) as well as 毛沢東 ( Japanese Kanji). All of these variants may be used in the library system, but search in one form cannot find records that have another variant.  

Try a variant of the character, alternate spelling, or other letters. 

Searching for phrases:

Orbis cannot interpret the search phrase in Basic Search without quotation marks. 

Either use quotation marks (from an English keyboard) or use Advanced Search and select “as a phrase.”

Tips for Searching Specific Languages

East Asian Languages (Chinese, Japanese, and Korean) 
Hebrew Languages (Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, Judeo-Arabic, Aramaic, and any other language using the Hebrew alphabet) 
Near East Languages
Slavic and East European Languages
South Asia  Contact Subject Specialist (Languages supported: Hindi, Urdu, Sanskrit, Pali, Prakrit, Tamil, Bengali, Assamese, Arabic, Sinhala, Gujarati, Telugu, & Persian)
Southeast Asian Languages  Contact Subject Specialist 
Others? Find the Subject Specialist