History UsefulNotes / Romanization

17th Jul '14 9:11:20 AM rexpensive
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* Chinese; see WhyMaoChangedHisName

to:

* Chinese; see WhyMaoChangedHisNameUsefulNotes/WhyMaoChangedHisName
9th Apr '13 10:15:19 AM BishopRodan
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* Chinese

to:

* ChineseChinese; see WhyMaoChangedHisName
23rd Feb '12 9:44:16 AM lebrel
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[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romanization_of_Japanese Romanization]] is the way that Japanese text gets transliterated into English. The romanized text, written with the Latin alphabet, is often referred to as "Romaji", from Roman alphabet + "ji" meaning "characters" (much the way "Kanji" literally means "Chinese characters"). The word Romanization can actually refer to using ''any'' Latin-based alphabet (French, German, Polish, ...) to write a words originally written with ''any'' non-Latin script, but in fandom it almost universally refers to Japanese-to-English transliteration.

Japanese has three writing systems. '''Katakana''' and '''hiragana''' (both types of '''kana''') are two systems which are both used to write the same set of syllables; katakana is mainly used for foreign words and for emphasis. (Technically they are not syllables, but morae. The difference probably won't matter to you.) '''Kanji''' are Chinese characters, often with multiple pronunciations depending on context, and their pronunciation must be memorized individually. Small kana (furigana) can be written above the kanji to show how they are pronounced; this happens in works meant for younger readers and often for names.

'''Japanese to English'''

Japanese has a few quirks that don't exist in English. Although in general pronouncing kana is simpler, there are challenges in representing it in Roman letters. There are several systems to do this, with Revised Hepburn being the most readable and popular.

[[AC:Chi/Ti, Tsu/Tu, Shi/Si, Fu/Hu, Zu/Du/Dzu]]

One difference between the major romanization systems has to do with how certain consonants are written. Certain consonant/vowel pairs sound more like what an English speaker would consider different consonants. Hepburn writes this as the sound (''chi'', ''tsu'', ''shi'', ''fu'') and Nihon-shiki and Kunrei-shiki write this using the same consonant even if it doesn't match the English sound (''ti'', ''tu'', ''si'', ''hu''). These romanizations are still taught in Japan, largely because beginning students of English in Japan have difficulties with the concept of letters as single sounds and diphthongs are too much for them.

The inflected ''tsu'', which sounds like ''zu'', deserves its own mention. Kunrei-shiki joins modern Hepburn in using the phonetic ''zu''. Hihon-shiki sticks with the same consonant for ''du''. Old Hepburn broke its phonetic scheme to use ''dzu'', which is where the "d" in "kudzu" comes from.

[[AC:The Long Vowel Issue]]

In Japanese, vowels can be short or long. A long vowel (which just means that the syllable is held for slightly longer, not that the pronunciation is changed) is written in Japanese as two of the vowels in a row - except in the case of long ''o'' (which is usually written with a "u" character, as "ou", instead of "oo") and long ''e'' (which is usually written with an "i" character, as "ei", instead of "ee").

For example, the name of the city of Tokyo contains two long ''o'' vowels, and the Japanese ''kana'' (script) would be most directly transcribed as '''to-u-kyo-u'''. \\
There are several ways of presenting the long o:
* Hepburn technically requires a bar (macron) over the o (ō): Tōkyō. This can be hard to type, and may cause formatting issues when text is copied between different systems.
* A double vowel (oo): Tookyoo. The problem with this is that in English this represents an entirely different sound - a long u, as in "spoon".
* The pair spelled the way they are in hiragana (ou): Toukyou. Again, in English this is a different sound, a dipthong as in the word "sound". This is sometimes called "waapuro" (word processor), because it is how the text would be entered into a word processor.
* Rarely, an h after the vowel (oh): Tohkyoh. This can look unnatural, as no English words have this combination in the middle of a word.
* The long/short distinction omitted entirely, as is the case with '''Tokyo'''. Most English speakers wouldn't really know the difference between a short and long vowel unless it was pointed out to them, so this is probably the most common way to write it. The downside is that if you want to turn it back into Japanese, you would lose the extra information of long syllables.

Note: There are a few cases where the doubled spelling for long "o" actually is "oo". Ooki (big) and ooi (many) are two such words. There are a few rare cases of "ee" as well.

In katakana, long syllables are shown with a dash-mark, which is also the stand-in for the English ending R sound. This is why so many Japanese people will accidentally say "ice cream corn" instead of "cone."

[[AC:Long Consonants]]

Similarly, there is such a thing as a "long consonant", which is usually written by a small "tsu" character before the syllable; this indicates that the consonant part of the syllable is held for longer. This is generally easier to deal with, as the English consonant is just doubled (e.g. "ka'''pp'''a"). It does get confusing when the character to be doubled is a "ch" or "sh" sound, though.

The main exception to the spelling rule is a double "m" or "n", which is written by an additional "n" character rather than a "tsu". R and H cannot be doubled in Japanese, but H can be doubled in katakana to represent the German "ch" sound (e.g. Heinrich or Ludwig would be spelled he-i-n-ri-(small-tsu)-hi and ru-do-u(small i)-(small tsu)-hi).

[[AC:Multi-syllables]]

There are a few syllables that turn into combinations, like "ji-ya", "chi-yo", etc., with the second syllable written smaller. In Hepburn this is turned into "ja" and "cho", but you can also see "jya" or even "zya".

[[AC:The "n" apostrophe]]

One more issue is how to treat "n" followed by a vowel. Since "n", unlike other consonants, does not have to have a vowel sound after it, it's ambiguous whether "ni", for instance, refers to a single syllable or to a "n" followed by a separate "i". Some systems use an apostrophe to indicate this. (Example: ''ren'ai'', "romantic love".)

'''English to Japanese to English'''

Japanese is a language of syllables. Very few words can end in a consonant; most end in vowels. There are also fewer sounds in Japanese than in English. When an [[GratuitousEnglish English word is presented in Japanese]] (generally in katakana, the script used for foreign characters), information is invariably lost. When it then gets translated ''back'' into English, the missing information often leads to mistranslations. This is a common malaise when {{Video Game}}s get brought to English-speaking countries; many names and words are meant to be English, but the translators sometimes mess up on what they're actually saying.

Common transliteration problems from English to Japanese include:
* The lack of a differentiated "R" and "L" sound in Japanese. Japanese has only one sound, which is somewhere between the two. This is probably the most common challenge in romanization: figuring out whether a Japanese syllable is meant to be an R or an L. This is where the term "{{Engrish}}" comes from.
* Similarly, Japanese don't really have a "f" sound; "f" is basically a somewhat stronger version of "h"; the -u syllable is usually written in English as "fu" but the others are "ha, he, hi, ho". This makes for weird combinations like "fu-(small ya)" for "fya" to stand in for "fa". Sometimes the two are interchangable; for example, "hu" in Japanese would still be spelled with the "fu" syllable.
* The lack of ending consonants. "n" is the only consonant that Japanese allows to end a syllable, although "r" is also simulated by a horizontal dash. For everything else, an existing syllable is used, meaning there is an ending vowel (usually "u") that has to get chopped off when romanizing.
* Japanese is not written with spaces or capitals. Translators have to figure out where the spaces go, which can be challenging. (Although there is a special dot symbol which can be used to separate words when necessary, e.g. to separate personal name from surname.)
* Missing sounds. Japanese has fewer sounds than English. Examples include:
** "th" is usually turned into "s".
*** Only when it's not voiced, like in the name "Smith" (su-mi-su). When it's voiced, the "s" is, too: "the" becomes "za" (although "z" is pronounced more like "dz" in most cases).
** "v" can be written as "u" with a digraph on it, followed by a vowel, but more often is just rendered with a "b" (e.g. "violin" would be "ba-i-o-ri-n").
** the "tee" sound doesn't exist in Japanese. It can also be written using "te-(small i)", but it's often replaced by "chi". So "steal" gets turned into "su-chi-ru".
* For some reason, Japanese sometimes treats an ending "m" like an "n", leading to words like "combo" being turned into "ko-n-bo".
** This is because "n" is assimilated so it's pronounced "m" before labials (i.e. "b", "p", and "m" in Japanese), so writing it "ko-mu-bo" is unnecessary. This assimilation also happens in other languages, whether the speakers are aware of it or not.

Sounds that don't fit nicely into English or are unusual can be even more confusing.

Some fun examples of missed Romanization:
* ''VideoGame/StarOceanTheSecondStory'': Scylla -> su-ku-ra -> Scewer
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII'': Thamasa Soul -> sa-ma-sa -> Samantha Soul
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfPhantasia'': Stirge -> su-te-i-ji -> Stage
* ''[[ShadowHearts Shadow Hearts: From The New World]]'': Shub Niggurath -> she-bu-ni-gu-ra-su -> Jeb Niglas
* ''FinalFantasyTactics'': Breath -> bu-re-su -> Bracelet
* ''{{Wild ARMs}}'': Jack Vambrace (a vambrace is an arm guard) -> va-n-bu-re-i-su -> Jack Van Burace

Note that some names were originally in Japanese but [[AsLongAsItSoundsForeign meant to ''sound'' English]]. These names ''have'' no "real" translation, and can result in all kinds of arguments. A good example is the town called "ri-ze-n-bu-r" from ''FullMetalAlchemist'', which has been variously translated as Resembool, Risembul, Riesenburgh, and Liesenburgh.
----

to:

[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romanization_of_Japanese Romanization]] is the way that Japanese text gets transliterated into English. The romanized text, written with the Latin alphabet, is often referred to as "Romaji", from Roman alphabet + "ji" meaning "characters" (much the way "Kanji" literally means "Chinese characters"). The word Romanization can actually refer refers to using ''any'' Latin-based alphabet (French, German, Polish, ...) to write a the process of transliterating words originally written with ''any'' from a non-Latin script, but in fandom it almost universally refers to Japanese-to-English transliteration.

Japanese has three writing systems. '''Katakana''' and '''hiragana''' (both types of '''kana''') are two systems which are both used to write
script into the same set of syllables; katakana is mainly used for foreign words and for emphasis. (Technically they are not syllables, but morae. The difference probably won't matter to you.) '''Kanji''' are Chinese characters, often with multiple pronunciations depending on context, and their pronunciation must be memorized individually. Small kana (furigana) can be written above Latin alphabet (AKA the kanji to show how they are pronounced; this happens in works meant for younger readers and often for names.

'''Japanese to English'''

Japanese has a few quirks that don't exist in English. Although in general pronouncing kana is simpler, there are challenges in representing it in
Roman letters. There are alphabet). Each language typically has several systems to do this, with Revised Hepburn being the most readable and popular.

[[AC:Chi/Ti, Tsu/Tu, Shi/Si, Fu/Hu, Zu/Du/Dzu]]

One difference between the major romanization systems has to do with how certain consonants are written. Certain consonant/vowel pairs sound more like what an English speaker would consider
different consonants. Hepburn writes this as the sound (''chi'', ''tsu'', ''shi'', ''fu'') Romanization systems that may give different results. Romanization is particularly necessary for names, loanwords and Nihon-shiki and Kunrei-shiki write this using the same consonant even if it special vocabulary that doesn't match the English sound (''ti'', ''tu'', ''si'', ''hu''). These romanizations are still taught in Japan, largely because beginning students of English in Japan have difficulties with the concept of letters as single sounds and diphthongs are too much for them.

The inflected ''tsu'', which sounds like ''zu'', deserves its own mention. Kunrei-shiki joins modern Hepburn in using the phonetic ''zu''. Hihon-shiki sticks with the same consonant for ''du''. Old Hepburn broke its phonetic scheme to use ''dzu'', which is where the "d" in "kudzu" comes from.

[[AC:The Long Vowel Issue]]

In Japanese, vowels can be short or long. A long vowel (which just means that the syllable is held for slightly longer, not that the pronunciation is changed) is written in Japanese as two of the vowels in a row - except
an equivalent in the case of long ''o'' (which is usually written with a "u" character, as "ou", instead of "oo") and long ''e'' (which is usually written with an "i" character, as "ei", instead of "ee").

For example, the name of the city of Tokyo contains two long ''o'' vowels, and the Japanese ''kana'' (script) would be most directly transcribed as '''to-u-kyo-u'''. \\
There are several ways of presenting the long o:
* Hepburn technically requires a bar (macron) over the o (ō): Tōkyō. This can be hard to type, and
target language.

Languages that you
may cause formatting issues when text is copied between different systems.
* A double vowel (oo): Tookyoo. The problem with
encounter around this is Wiki that in English this represents an entirely different sound - a long u, as in "spoon".
require romanization:
* The pair spelled the way they are in hiragana (ou): Toukyou. Again, in English this is a different sound, a dipthong as in the word "sound". This is sometimes called "waapuro" (word processor), because it is how the text would be entered into a word processor.
* Rarely, an h after the vowel (oh): Tohkyoh. This can look unnatural, as no English words have this combination in the middle of a word.
* The long/short distinction omitted entirely, as is the case with '''Tokyo'''. Most English speakers wouldn't really know the difference between a short and long vowel unless it was pointed out to them, so this is probably the most common way to write it. The downside is that if you want to turn it back into Japanese, you would lose the extra information of long syllables.

Note: There are a few cases where the doubled spelling for long "o" actually is "oo". Ooki (big) and ooi (many) are two such words. There are a few rare cases of "ee" as well.

In katakana, long syllables are shown with a dash-mark, which is also the stand-in for the English ending R sound. This is why so many Japanese people will accidentally say "ice cream corn" instead of "cone."

[[AC:Long Consonants]]

Similarly, there is such a thing as a "long consonant", which is usually written by a small "tsu" character before the syllable; this indicates that the consonant part of the syllable is held for longer. This is generally easier to deal with, as the English consonant is just doubled (e.g. "ka'''pp'''a"). It does get confusing when the character to be doubled is a "ch" or "sh" sound, though.

The main exception to the spelling rule is a double "m" or "n", which is written by an additional "n" character rather than a "tsu". R and H cannot be doubled in Japanese, but H can be doubled in katakana to represent the German "ch" sound (e.g. Heinrich or Ludwig would be spelled he-i-n-ri-(small-tsu)-hi and ru-do-u(small i)-(small tsu)-hi).

[[AC:Multi-syllables]]

There are a few syllables that turn into combinations, like "ji-ya", "chi-yo", etc., with the second syllable written smaller. In Hepburn this is turned into "ja" and "cho", but you can also
Japanese; see "jya" or even "zya".

[[AC:The "n" apostrophe]]

One more issue is how to treat "n" followed by a vowel. Since "n", unlike other consonants, does not have to have a vowel sound after it, it's ambiguous whether "ni", for instance, refers to a single syllable or to a "n" followed by a separate "i". Some systems use an apostrophe to indicate this. (Example: ''ren'ai'', "romantic love".)

'''English to Japanese to English'''

Japanese is a language of syllables. Very few words can end in a consonant; most end in vowels. There are also fewer sounds in Japanese than in English. When an [[GratuitousEnglish English word is presented in Japanese]] (generally in katakana, the script used for foreign characters), information is invariably lost. When it then gets translated ''back'' into English, the missing information often leads to mistranslations. This is a common malaise when {{Video Game}}s get brought to English-speaking countries; many names and words are meant to be English, but the translators sometimes mess up on what they're actually saying.

Common transliteration problems from English to Japanese include:
UsefulNotes/JapaneseRomanization
* The lack of a differentiated "R" and "L" sound in Japanese. Japanese has only one sound, which is somewhere between the two. This is probably the most common challenge in romanization: figuring out whether a Japanese syllable is meant to be an R or an L. This is where the term "{{Engrish}}" comes from.
Chinese
* Similarly, Japanese don't really have a "f" sound; "f" is basically a somewhat stronger version of "h"; the -u syllable is usually written in English as "fu" but the others are "ha, he, hi, ho". This makes for weird combinations like "fu-(small ya)" for "fya" to stand in for "fa". Sometimes the two are interchangable; for example, "hu" in Japanese would still be spelled with the "fu" syllable.
Korean
* The lack of ending consonants. "n" is the only consonant that Japanese allows to end a syllable, although "r" is also simulated by a horizontal dash. For everything else, an existing syllable is used, meaning there is an ending vowel (usually "u") that has to get chopped off when romanizing.
* Japanese is not written with spaces or capitals. Translators have to figure out where the spaces go, which can be challenging. (Although there is a special dot symbol which can be used to separate words when necessary, e.g. to separate personal name from surname.)
* Missing sounds. Japanese has fewer sounds than English. Examples include:
** "th" is usually turned into "s".
*** Only when it's not voiced, like in the name "Smith" (su-mi-su). When it's voiced, the "s" is, too: "the" becomes "za" (although "z" is pronounced more like "dz" in most cases).
** "v" can be written as "u" with a digraph on it, followed by a vowel, but more often is just rendered with a "b" (e.g. "violin" would be "ba-i-o-ri-n").
** the "tee" sound doesn't exist in Japanese. It can also be written using "te-(small i)", but it's often replaced by "chi". So "steal" gets turned into "su-chi-ru".
* For some reason, Japanese sometimes treats an ending "m" like an "n", leading to words like "combo" being turned into "ko-n-bo".
** This is because "n" is assimilated so it's pronounced "m" before labials (i.e. "b", "p", and "m" in Japanese), so writing it "ko-mu-bo" is unnecessary. This assimilation also happens in other languages, whether the speakers are aware of it or not.

Sounds that don't fit nicely into English or are unusual can be even more confusing.

Some fun examples of missed Romanization:
* ''VideoGame/StarOceanTheSecondStory'': Scylla -> su-ku-ra -> Scewer
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII'': Thamasa Soul -> sa-ma-sa -> Samantha Soul
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfPhantasia'': Stirge -> su-te-i-ji -> Stage
* ''[[ShadowHearts Shadow Hearts: From The New World]]'': Shub Niggurath -> she-bu-ni-gu-ra-su -> Jeb Niglas
* ''FinalFantasyTactics'': Breath -> bu-re-su -> Bracelet
* ''{{Wild ARMs}}'': Jack Vambrace (a vambrace is an arm guard) -> va-n-bu-re-i-su -> Jack Van Burace

Note that some names were originally in Japanese but [[AsLongAsItSoundsForeign meant to ''sound'' English]]. These names ''have'' no "real" translation, and can result in all kinds of arguments. A good example is the town called "ri-ze-n-bu-r" from ''FullMetalAlchemist'', which has been variously translated as Resembool, Risembul, Riesenburgh, and Liesenburgh.
----
Russian
30th Jan '12 11:49:06 PM nombretomado
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* ''StarOceanTheSecondStory'': Scylla -> su-ku-ra -> Scewer

to:

* ''StarOceanTheSecondStory'': ''VideoGame/StarOceanTheSecondStory'': Scylla -> su-ku-ra -> Scewer
27th Jan '12 2:59:33 PM Oreochan
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* ''FinalFantasyVIII'': Thamasa Soul -> sa-ma-sa -> Samantha Soul
* ''TalesOfPhantasia'': Stirge -> su-te-i-ji -> Stage

to:

* ''FinalFantasyVIII'': ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII'': Thamasa Soul -> sa-ma-sa -> Samantha Soul
* ''TalesOfPhantasia'': ''VideoGame/TalesOfPhantasia'': Stirge -> su-te-i-ji -> Stage
13th Aug '11 2:27:07 PM Kurtulmak
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[[AC:Chi/Ti, Tsu/Tu, Shi/Si, Fu/Hu]]

One difference between the major romanization systems has to do with how certain consonants are written. Certain consonant/vowel pairs sound more like what an English speaker would consider different consonants. Hepburn writes this as the sound (chi, tsu, shi, fu) and Nihon-shiki and Kunrei-shiki write this using the same consonant even if it doesn't match the English sound (ti, tu, si, hu). These romanizations are still taught in Japan, largely because beginning students of English in Japan have difficulties with the concept of letters as single sounds and diphthongs are too much for them.

to:

[[AC:Chi/Ti, Tsu/Tu, Shi/Si, Fu/Hu]]

Fu/Hu, Zu/Du/Dzu]]

One difference between the major romanization systems has to do with how certain consonants are written. Certain consonant/vowel pairs sound more like what an English speaker would consider different consonants. Hepburn writes this as the sound (chi, tsu, shi, fu) (''chi'', ''tsu'', ''shi'', ''fu'') and Nihon-shiki and Kunrei-shiki write this using the same consonant even if it doesn't match the English sound (ti, tu, si, hu). (''ti'', ''tu'', ''si'', ''hu''). These romanizations are still taught in Japan, largely because beginning students of English in Japan have difficulties with the concept of letters as single sounds and diphthongs are too much for them.
them.

The inflected ''tsu'', which sounds like ''zu'', deserves its own mention. Kunrei-shiki joins modern Hepburn in using the phonetic ''zu''. Hihon-shiki sticks with the same consonant for ''du''. Old Hepburn broke its phonetic scheme to use ''dzu'', which is where the "d" in "kudzu" comes from.



In Japanese, vowels can be short or long. A long vowel (which just means that the syllable is held for slightly longer, not that the pronunciation is changed) is written in Japanese as two of the vowels in a row - except in the case of long ''o'' (which is written with a "u" character, as "ou", instead of "oo") and long ''e'' (which is written with an "i" character, as "ei", instead of "ee").

to:

In Japanese, vowels can be short or long. A long vowel (which just means that the syllable is held for slightly longer, not that the pronunciation is changed) is written in Japanese as two of the vowels in a row - except in the case of long ''o'' (which is usually written with a "u" character, as "ou", instead of "oo") and long ''e'' (which is usually written with an "i" character, as "ei", instead of "ee").



Note: There are a few cases where the doubled spelling for long "o" actually is "oo". Ooki (big) and ooi (many) are two such words. There are a few rare cases of "ee" as well.

to:

Note: There are a few cases where the doubled spelling for long "o" actually is "oo". Ooki (big) and ooi (many) are two such words. There are a few rare cases of "ee" as well.
well.
2nd Sep '10 11:30:10 AM ShaolinNinja
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*** Only when it's not voiced, like in the name "Smith" (su-mi-su). When it's voiced, the "s" is, too: "the" becomes "za" (although "z" pronounced more like "dz" in most cases).

to:

*** Only when it's not voiced, like in the name "Smith" (su-mi-su). When it's voiced, the "s" is, too: "the" becomes "za" (although "z" is pronounced more like "dz" in most cases).
1st Sep '10 3:00:06 PM ShaolinNinja
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Added DiffLines:

*** Only when it's not voiced, like in the name "Smith" (su-mi-su). When it's voiced, the "s" is, too: "the" becomes "za" (although "z" pronounced more like "dz" in most cases).
1st Sep '10 2:54:28 PM ShaolinNinja
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to:

** This is because "n" is assimilated so it's pronounced "m" before labials (i.e. "b", "p", and "m" in Japanese), so writing it "ko-mu-bo" is unnecessary. This assimilation also happens in other languages, whether the speakers are aware of it or not.
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