I'm investigating the most accurate English transliteration of the family name "Каврайский", which is from Владимир Владимирович Кавра́йский, and is used to describe a series of named map projections Проекция Каврайского.

Here are my findings, in order to what I see most common from search engines:

  1. Kavrayskiy - from Wikipedia's Vladimir V. Kavrayskiy and Kavrayskiy VII projection articles
  2. Kavraisky - from mapping software PROJ, MATLAB
  3. Kavraysky - from encyclopedia.com

Which of these is the best? Or are they all valid English transliterations?

  • Hi Mike - unfortunately this is not a question about Russian language but rather about how it's better to be transmitted in English. However the real answer is - all the variants you've mentioned are valid.
    – shabunc
    Apr 15 at 12:15

As a person with the family name Ольшанский, I can say with confidence that there is no single tradition of transliteration of "ий" in the Russian surnames. For example, the end of my family name, even in official documents issued at different times, is transliterated differently.
I like the short version "y", but I know people who prefer to write their last name using "iy".
The same situation is with the "й" in the middle. It may be either "i" or "y".

  • 1
    The current Ukrainian official norm is to transliterate it as -ii, so my name Олексій is “Oleksii” in my foreign passport. :-)
    – Yellow Sky
    Apr 25 at 4:37

As stated in the other answer, "ий" is transliterated in several different ways. There isn't a set standard (or rather there are several different ones). First and last names with "й", "ы" and "ь" in them are transliterated differently in official documents. People often have different transliterations of their own names in different documents.

So yes, you can use any of the three spellings. However, if you're looking for technical accuracy, then (IMO) the first one is correct. It clearly and correctly shows the difference between "и" and "й". While English speakers are unlikely to hear the difference between "Kavrayskiy" and "Kavraysky", I'd recommend sticking with the first one on your list.

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