A discussion of East Asian writing systems would not be complete without mentioning transliteration. In its simplest form, transliteration is a mapping from one script system to another. For example, the mapping of Cyrillic script to Latin script is a transliteration. As we will see, transliteration plays a crucial role in an IME.

Over the years there have been a number of systems created for the transliteration of East Asian scripts, notably the Hepburn and Kunrei systems. The Hepburn and Kunrei systems map Latin characters to Japanese Kana characters. These mappings often require one or more Latin characters to produce a single Kana character. For example, the Hiragana letter Hiragana letter is constructed from the Latin letters 'me' in the Kunrei system.

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