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How do you write foreign proper nouns

Japanese, general discussion on the language

How would you write a foreign proper noun that doesn't have a common Japanese equivalent?

San Antonioから来ました
1
10%
サンアントニオから来ました
9
90%
some other way
0
No votes
 
Total votes : 10

How do you write foreign proper nouns

Postby Dehitay » Sat 09.20.2008 11:16 am

I know the use of katakana is going to be the most popular way for writing foreign proper nouns even if they don't have a popular Japanese transliteration, but I'm wondering how many other people besides myself use romaji in this case.

I developed the habit of using romaji for foreign proper nouns back when I was first studying kana. Katakana always made me end up feeling foolish at first, so I used romaji whenever a proper noun became ambiguous. Now it's a habit I'm not sure I'll grow out of since it doesn't really affect reading and writing much.

Btw, I added an other option in case there's something I didn't think of, but I'm rather sure it's useless. However, if you actually would write this in some other way, please tell me how you would.
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Re: How do you write foreign proper nouns

Postby richvh » Sat 09.20.2008 12:22 pm

With over 400,000 google hits for サンアントニオ テキサス, I don't see how you could say it doesn't have a common Japanese transliteration.
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Re: How do you write foreign proper nouns

Postby hyperconjugated » Sat 09.20.2008 1:10 pm

The first thing I do in these kind of situations is go to wikipedia and see if they have Japanese version of the article:

wikipedia en: San Antonio, Texas --> 日本語 --> サンアントニオ

Maybe not 100% reliable due to the nature of wikipedia but accurate enough.
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Re: How do you write foreign proper nouns

Postby Dehitay » Sun 09.21.2008 1:20 am

San Antonio itself might not be the best example since it's a fairly popular city and it transliterates so easily, but I'm just using it to represent a category of proper nouns. I guess a more meaning full example would be a name like Silvalowsky.
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Re: How do you write foreign proper nouns

Postby MMM » Sun 09.21.2008 2:02 am

Without a katakana option, a name like Silvalowsky will be a roadblock to any Japanese reader. Hell, I am not even sure how to pronounce it. I see Japanese living in the US keep some proper nouns like names of non-Japanese friends and city names in English, but not so much in Japan.
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Re: How do you write foreign proper nouns

Postby chikara » Sun 09.21.2008 9:26 pm

Dehitay wrote:I know the use of katakana is going to be the most popular way for writing foreign proper nouns even if they don't have a popular Japanese transliteration, but I'm wondering how many other people besides myself use romaji in this case. .....

If writing for a Japanese audience use katakana regardless of if the transliteration is *popular*. If you were using a Japanese noun in English text you were writing and that noun was not commonly used in English would you write it in kana/kanji?
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Re: How do you write foreign proper nouns

Postby becki_kanou » Sun 09.21.2008 9:52 pm

chikara wrote:
Dehitay wrote:I know the use of katakana is going to be the most popular way for writing foreign proper nouns even if they don't have a popular Japanese transliteration, but I'm wondering how many other people besides myself use romaji in this case. .....

If writing for a Japanese audience use katakana regardless of if the transliteration is *popular*. If you were using a Japanese noun in English text you were writing and that noun was not commonly used in English would you write it in kana/kanji?


I agree, for the average Japanese reader leaving a word in English makes it more opaque not less. I guess it depends who your target audience is, if you're writing something for a family member or a well known aquaintance you of course have more leeway. I often write my husband e-mails in a mix of English, ateji and emoji just for the humourus effect, but I wouldn't to someone I don't know.

Also I think that leaving things in English could perhaps lead to sloppy pronunciation of katakana words. It's easier to think and say サンアントニオ if you've written it that way than if you've left it in English. Not saying that you, personally, do this but I've met several non-native speakers who felt that if a word was originally English than that was good enough for them and so they didn't bother to pronounce it the katakana-ized way, which led to misunderstandings. After all, you don't say カラオケ in English do you? You say KErry-oki. (at least in my dialect).
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Re: How do you write foreign proper nouns

Postby tōkai devotee » Fri 09.26.2008 8:18 pm

becki_kanou wrote: After all, you don't say カラオケ in English do you? You say KErry-oki. (at least in my dialect).



It's pronounced more like CURRY-okey down in my part of Oztraylia! :lol:
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