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Transliteration of Japanese place names

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Transliteration of Japanese place names

Postby leergierig » Mon 01.28.2008 6:11 pm

Hi there everyone.

I have a somewhat unusual question. I know that the names of places in Japan are mainly transliterated into English using the Hepburn system (apart from small differences like those seen in "Tokyo", where the elongated vowels get dropped).

I would like to know what happens in other languages. Does your language have a system for rendering the name more closely to its own phonetics? Or is the English name generally preferred and used without any changes?

To illustrate my point, the following is "Honshu" as transliterated into Afrikaans:
"Honsjoe".

The reason I am asking is that I really want to know whether there has been any degree of standardisation in your language. According to the purists of my native language, phonetic transliteration should be used for foreign place names, but it seems that nobody is exactly sure what this constitutes. I guess I am not a purist since I actually prefer the English versions ;).

I appreciate any input on this matter.
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RE: Transliteration of Japanese place names

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Mon 01.28.2008 6:38 pm

There is no standard, and the issue is enormously complex when you get beyond well known ones like Tokyo and Kyoto -- this is especially true with personal names; it causes a lot of problems for academic research because the names are listed in either order, with variant romanizations (and sometimes even variant readings of the kanji, particularly with voicing vs. devoicing).
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RE: Transliteration of Japanese place names

Postby BetterSense » Mon 01.28.2008 6:59 pm

I know that the names of places in Japan are mainly transliterated into English using the Hepburn system (apart from small differences like those seen in "Tokyo"


Wouldn't transliteration be like 'East Capital'? I think 'Tokyo' is an example of transcription.

this is especially true with personal names; it causes a lot of problems for academic research because the names are listed in either order, with variant romanizations

I've actually seen different romanization styles used right next to each other, word to word. I wonder if people have a preferred romanization for their names, because I've noticed this a lot in movie credits.

On the name thing, changing the order of japanese names makes me violently angry. It's to the point that unless people have names that I can identify as family vs. personal (and I'm pretty bad at that) I can't actual tell if 'Mr. X Y' is actually Mr Y X, because there's no way for me to know. It's seriously completely ambiguous.

The 'Junichi' ambiguity is also a peeve of mine. I like sensible romanizations, so to me it will always be 'Mount Huzi'. :D
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RE: Transliteration of Japanese place names

Postby chikara » Mon 01.28.2008 7:10 pm

BetterSense wrote:
Wouldn't transliteration be like 'East Capital'? I think 'Tokyo' is an example of transcription. ...
No. East Capital is the actual translation (no like about it) while "Tokyo" or "Toukyou" is the transliteration.

Transliterate is to change letters or words into corresponding characters of another alphabet or language.
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