In the block quote below I've added an excerpt from an interview transcript with the author of "The First Norton Anthology of World Religions." The transcript has different words for God and "(ph)" noted after those words.

What is the meaning of "ph?" I'm guessing it has something to do with pronunciation. Regardless, under what circumstances do authors, transcriptionists, or both use "(ph)?"

And the proper name of God, Yahweh (ph), as scholars have reconstructed it when written in four letters in Hebrew, was punctuated with vowels - as Hebrew proceeds to do - in a way that invited you to say another word, Adonai (ph), instead of the word Yahweh. ... Or would I say, and so - I mean, one practice is to say Hashem (ph), the name.

  • 2
    Phonetic, maybe?
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Nov 15 '15 at 17:21
  • This may be specific to Hebrew transliterations. IIRC, Hebrew doesn't have characters for vowels; it uses dots to indicate vowel sounds. It also might have to do specifically with writing the name of the deity, which Hebrew forbids. You might want to ask on judaism.stackexchange.com as well. Nov 16 '15 at 10:49

Ph simply means phonetic. This means the writer had spelled it how it sounded. It is often used in court.

  • 1
    It showed up in the transcript of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings by the Washington Post: washingtonpost.com/news/national/wp/2018/09/27/… ...but I can't discern what's ambiguous that required the (ph) clarification. Sep 28 '18 at 15:17
  • 1
    It most likely means that it is what it sounded like to the transcriber even though it may not be accurate, eg "You asked Senator Feinstein to main (ph) confidentiality..." Presumably this is something like "to maintain confidentiality" but the transcriber heard something like "to main confidentiality" so that's what they wrote.
    – Mr Nick
    Oct 2 '18 at 1:29

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