Romanisation has not been studied from a comparative perspective so far, although there are a number of case studies that focus on particular speech communities. In order to fill this gap in the literature, the articles in this special issue were first presented at a workshop, entitled “Romanisation in Comparative Perspective: Explaining Success and Failure”, held at Bilkent University, Ankara, 5–6 September 2007. The workshop addressed this theme with the specific aim of explaining why romanisation has been implemented successfully in certain cases and why it has failed in others. Hailing from diverse disciplines, workshop participants brought together a variety of methodological approaches, which represented a challenge and an opportunity at the same time. Each participant reassessed the story of a success or failure within the socio-political and historical context of a particular country or region.