Romanization of Japanese

Last updated

The romanization of Japanese is the use of Latin script to write the Japanese language. [1] This method of writing is sometimes referred to in Japanese as rōmaji (ローマ字, literally, "Roman letters"; [ɾoːma(d)ʑi] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ) or [ɾoːmaꜜ(d)ʑi] ). There are several different romanization systems. The three main ones are Hepburn romanization, Kunrei-shiki romanization (ISO 3602), and Nihon-shiki romanization (ISO 3602 Strict). Variants of the Hepburn system are the most widely used.

Contents

Japanese is normally written in a combination of logographic characters borrowed from Chinese (kanji) and syllabic scripts (kana) that also ultimately derive from Chinese characters. Rōmaji may be used in any context where Japanese text is targeted at non-Japanese speakers who cannot read kanji or kana, such as for names on street signs and passports, and in dictionaries and textbooks for foreign learners of the language. It is also used to transliterate Japanese terms in text written in English (or other languages that use the Latin script) on topics related to Japan, such as linguistics, literature, history, and culture. Rōmaji is the most common way to input Japanese into word processors and computers, and may also be used to display Japanese on devices that do not support the display of Japanese characters.

All Japanese who have attended elementary school since World War II have been taught to read and write romanized Japanese. Therefore, almost all Japanese are able to read and write Japanese using rōmaji, although it is extremely rare in Japan to use this method to write Japanese (except as an input tool on a computer or for special purposes like in some logo design), and most Japanese are more comfortable reading kanji and kana.

History

The earliest Japanese romanization system was based on Portuguese orthography. It was developed around 1548 by a Japanese Catholic named Anjirō.[ citation needed ] Jesuit priests used the system in a series of printed Catholic books so that missionaries could preach and teach their converts without learning to read Japanese orthography. The most useful of these books for the study of early modern Japanese pronunciation and early attempts at romanization was the Nippo jisho , a Japanese–Portuguese dictionary written in 1603. In general, the early Portuguese system was similar to Nihon-shiki in its treatment of vowels. Some consonants were transliterated differently: for instance, the /k/ consonant was rendered, depending on context, as either c or q, and the /ɸ/ consonant (now pronounced /h/, except before u) as f; and so Nihon no kotoba ("The language of Japan") was spelled Nifon no cotoba. The Jesuits also printed some secular books in romanized Japanese, including the first printed edition of the Japanese classic The Tale of the Heike , romanized as Feiqe no monogatari, and a collection of Aesop's Fables (romanized as Esopo no fabulas). The latter continued to be printed and read after the suppression of Christianity in Japan (Chibbett, 1977).

Following the expulsion of Christians from Japan in the late 1590s and early 17th century, rōmaji fell out of use and was used sporadically in foreign texts until the mid-19th century, when Japan opened up again.[ citation needed ]

From the mid-19th century onward, several systems were developed, culminating in the Hepburn system, named after James Curtis Hepburn who used it in the third edition of his Japanese–English dictionary, published in 1887. The Hepburn system included representation of some sounds that have since changed. For example, Lafcadio Hearn's book Kwaidan shows the older kw- pronunciation; in modern Hepburn romanization, this would be written Kaidan (lit.'ghost tales').[ citation needed ]

As a replacement for the Japanese writing system

In the Meiji era (1868–1912), some Japanese scholars advocated abolishing the Japanese writing system entirely and using rōmaji instead. The Nihon-shiki romanization was an outgrowth of that movement. Several Japanese texts were published entirely in rōmaji during this period, but it failed to catch on. Later, in the early 20th century, some scholars devised syllabary systems with characters derived from Latin (rather like the Cherokee syllabary) that were even less popular since they were not based on any historical use of the Latin script.

Today, the use of Nihon-shiki for writing Japanese is advocated by the Oomoto sect [2] and some independent organizations. [3] During the Allied occupation of Japan, the government of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) made it official policy to romanize Japanese. However, that policy failed and a more moderate attempt at Japanese script reform followed.

Modern systems

Hepburn

Old sign from the JNR era at Toyooka Station shows inconsistent romanization. Although in principle Hepburn is used, Kokuhu is the kunrei-shiki form (which would be Kokufu in Hepburn). Toyooka Station Sign.jpg
Old sign from the JNR era at Toyooka Station shows inconsistent romanization. Although in principle Hepburn is used, Kokuhu is the kunrei-shiki form (which would be Kokufu in Hepburn).

Hepburn romanization generally follows English phonology with Romance vowels. It is an intuitive method of showing Anglophones the pronunciation of a word in Japanese. It was standardized in the United States as American National Standard System for the Romanization of Japanese (Modified Hepburn), but that status was abolished on October 6, 1994. Hepburn is the most common romanization system in use today, especially in the English-speaking world.

The Revised Hepburn system of romanization uses a macron to indicate some long vowels and an apostrophe to note the separation of easily confused phonemes (usually, syllabic n from a following naked vowel or semivowel). For example, the name じゅんいちろう is written with the kana characters ju-n-i-chi-ro-u, and romanized as Jun'ichirō in Revised Hepburn. Without the apostrophe, it would not be possible to distinguish this correct reading from the incorrect ju-ni-chi-ro-u (じゅにちろう). This system is widely used in Japan and among foreign students and academics.

Nihon-shiki

Nihon-shiki romanization, which predates the Hepburn system, was originally invented as a method for Japanese to write their own language in Latin characters, rather than to transcribe it for Westerners as Hepburn was. It follows the Japanese syllabary very strictly, with no adjustments for changes in pronunciation. It has also been standardized as ISO 3602 Strict. Also known as Nippon-shiki, rendered in the Nihon-shiki style of romanization the name is either Nihon-siki or Nippon-siki.

Kunrei-shiki

Kunrei-shiki romanization is a slightly modified version of Nihon-shiki which eliminates differences between the kana syllabary and modern pronunciation. For example, the characters and are pronounced identically in modern Japanese, and thus Kunrei-shiki and Hepburn ignore the difference in kana and represent the sound in the same way (zu). Nihon-shiki, on the other hand, will romanize as du, but as zu. Similarly for the pair and , they are both zi in Kunrei-shiki and ji in Hepburn, but are zi and di respectively in Nihon-shiki. See the table below for full details.

Kunrei-shiki has been standardized by the Japanese Government and the International Organisation for Standardisation as ISO 3602. Kunrei-shiki is taught to Japanese elementary school students in their fourth year of education.

Written in Kunrei-shiki, the name of the system would be rendered Kunreisiki.

Other variants

It is possible to elaborate these romanizations to enable non-native speakers to pronounce Japanese words more correctly. Typical additions include tone marks to note the Japanese pitch accent and diacritic marks to distinguish phonological changes, such as the assimilation of the moraic nasal /ɴ/ (see Japanese phonology).

JSL

JSL is a romanization system based on Japanese phonology, designed using the linguistic principles used by linguists in designing writing systems for languages that do not have any. It is a purely phonemic system, using exactly one symbol for each phoneme, and marking the pitch accent using diacritics. It was created for Eleanor Harz Jorden's system of Japanese language teaching. Its principle is that such a system enables students to internalize the phonology of Japanese better. Since it does not have any of the other systems' advantages for non-native speakers, and the Japanese already have a writing system for their language, JSL is not widely used outside the educational environment.

Non-standard romanization

In addition to the standardized systems above, there are many variations in romanization, used either for simplification, in error or confusion between different systems, or for deliberate stylistic reasons.

Notably, the various mappings that Japanese input methods use to convert keystrokes on a Roman keyboard to kana often combine features of all of the systems; when used as plain text rather than being converted, these are usually known as wāpuro rōmaji . (Wāpuro is a blend of do purosessā word processor.) Unlike the standard systems, wāpuro rōmaji requires no characters from outside the ASCII character set.

While there may be arguments in favour of some of these variant romanizations in specific contexts, their use, especially if mixed, leads to confusion when romanized Japanese words are indexed. Note that this confusion never occurs when inputting Japanese characters with a word processor, because input Latin letters are transliterated into Japanese kana as soon as the IME processes what character is input.

Long vowels

In addition, the following three "non-Hepburn rōmaji" (非ヘボン式ローマ字, hi-Hebon-shiki rōmaji) methods of representing long vowels are authorized by the Japanese Foreign Ministry for use in passports. [4]

Example words written in each romanization system

EnglishJapaneseKana spellingRomanization
Revised HepburnKunrei-shikiNihon-shiki
Roman charactersローマ字ローマじrōmajirômazirômazi
Mount Fuji 富士山ふじさんFujisanHuzisanHuzisan
tea お茶おちゃochaotyaotya
governor 知事ちじchijitizitizi
to shrink縮むちぢむchijimutizimutidimu
to continue続くつづくtsuzukutuzukutuduku

Differences among romanizations

This chart shows in full the three main systems for the romanization of Japanese: Hepburn, Nihon-shiki and Kunrei-shiki:

Hiragana Katakana Hepburn Nihon-shiki Kunrei-shiki IPA
a
i
uɯ
e
o
ka
kikʲi
ku
ke
ko
きゃキャkyakʲa
きゅキュkyukʲɯ
きょキョkyokʲo
sa
shisiɕi
su
se
so
しゃシャshasyaɕa
しゅシュshusyuɕɯ
しょショshosyoɕo
ta
chititɕi
tsututsɯ
te
to
ちゃチャchatyatɕa
ちゅチュchutyutɕɯ
ちょチョchotyotɕo
na
niɲi
nu
ne
no
にゃニャnyaɲa
にゅニュnyuɲɯ
にょニョnyoɲo
ha
hiçi
fuhuɸɯ
he
ho
ひゃヒャhyaça
ひゅヒュhyuçɯ
ひょヒョhyoço
ma
mimʲi
mu
me
mo
みゃミャmyamʲa
みゅミュmyumʲɯ
みょミョmyomʲo
yaja
yu
yojo
raɾa
riɾʲi
ruɾɯ
reɾe
roɾo
りゃリャryaɾʲa
りゅリュryuɾʲu
りょリョryoɾʲo
wawa~ɰa
iwii
ewee
owoo
n-n'(-m)n-n'm~n~ŋ~ɴ
ga
gigʲi
gu
ge
go
ぎゃギャgyagʲa
ぎゅギュgyugʲɯ
ぎょギョgyogʲo
za
jiziʑi~dʑi
zu
ze
zo
じゃジャjazyaʑa~dʑa
じゅジュjuzyuʑɯ~dʑɯ
じょジョjozyoʑo~dʑo
da
jidiziʑi~dʑi
zuduzu
de
do
ぢゃヂャjadyazyaʑa~dʑa
ぢゅヂュjudyuzyuʑɯ~dʑɯ
ぢょヂョjodyozyoʑo~dʑo
ba
bibʲi
bu
be
bo
びゃビャbyabʲa
びゅビュbyubʲɯ
びょビョbyobʲo
pa
pipʲi
pu
pe
po
ぴゃピャpyapʲa
ぴゅピュpyupʲɯ
ぴょピョpyopʲo
vuβɯ

This chart shows the significant differences among them. Despite the International Phonetic Alphabet, the /j/ sound in , , and are never romanized with the letter J.

Kana Revised Hepburn Nihon-shiki Kunrei-shiki
ううūû
おう, おおōô
shisi
しゃshasya
しゅshusyu
しょshosyo
jizi
じゃjazya
じゅjuzyu
じょjozyo
chiti
tsutu
ちゃchatya
ちゅchutyu
ちょchotyo
jidizi
zuduzu
ぢゃjadyazya
ぢゅjudyuzyu
ぢょjodyozyo
fuhu
iwii
ewee
owoo
n, n' ( m)nn'

Spacing

Japanese is written without spaces between words, and in some cases, such as compounds, it may not be completely clear where word boundaries should lie, resulting in varying romanization styles. For example, 結婚する, meaning "to marry", and composed of the noun 結婚 (kekkon, "marriage") combined with する (suru, "to do"), is romanized as one word kekkonsuru by some authors but two words kekkon suru by others.

Kana without standardized forms of romanization

There is no universally accepted style of romanization for the smaller versions of the vowels and y-row kana when used outside the normal combinations (きゃ, きょ, ファ etc.), nor for the sokuon or small tsu kana っ/ッ when it is not directly followed by a consonant. Although these are usually regarded as merely phonetic marks or diacritics, they do sometimes appear on their own, such as at the end of sentences, in exclamations, or in some names. The detached sokuon, representing a final glottal stop in exclamations, is sometimes represented as an apostrophe or as t; for example, あっ! might be written as a'! or at!.[ citation needed ]

Historical romanizations

1603: Vocabvlario da Lingoa de Iapam (1603)
1604: Arte da Lingoa de Iapam (1604–1608)
1620: Arte Breve da Lingoa Iapoa (1620)
1603ai, j, yv, uyevo, uo
1604ivvo
1620y
きゃきょくゎ
1603caqi, quicu, quqe, quecoqiaqio, qeoqua
1604quiquequiaquio
1620ca, kakicu, kukekiakio
ぎゃぎゅぎょぐゎ
1603gaguigu, gvguegoguiaguiuguiogua
1604gu
1620ga, ghaghigu, ghughego, ghoghiaghiughio
しゃしゅしょ
1603saxisuxesoxaxuxo
1604
1620
じゃじゅじょ
1603zaii, jizuie, yezoia, jaiu, juio, jo
1604jiiajujo
1620ieiuio
ちゃちゅちょ
1603tachitçutetochachucho
1604
1620
ぢゃぢゅぢょ
1603dagizzudedogiagiugio
1604dzu
1620
にゃにゅにょ
1603naninunenonhanhu, niunho, neo
1604nhanhunho
1620
ひゃひゅひょ
1603fafifufefofiafiufio, feo
1604fio
1620
びゃびゅびょ
1603babibubebobiabiubio, beo
1604
1620biabiu
ぴゃぴゅぴょ
1603papipupepopiapiupio
1604peapeupeo
1620piapiupio
みゃみゅみょ
1603mamimumemomia, meamiu, meumio, meo
1604
1620mio
1603yayuyo
1604
1620
りゃりゅりょ
1603rarirureroria, reariurio, reo
1604rio
1620riu
ゐゃゐゅゐょ
1603va, uavi, uive, uevo, uovia, uia, vea, uea, yaviu, veu, uiu, ueu, yuvio, veo, uio, ueo, yo
1604vayyevo
1620
1603n, m, ˜ (tilde)
1604n
1620n, m
1603-t, -cc-, -cch-, -cq-, -dd-, -pp-, -ss-, -tt, -xx-, -zz-
1604-t, -cc-, -cch-, -pp-, -cq-, -ss-, -tt-, -xx-
1620-t, -cc-, -cch-, -pp-, -ck-, -cq-, -ss-, -tt-, -xx-

Roman letter names in Japanese

The list below shows the Japanese reading of letters, for spelling out words, or in acronyms. For example, NHK is read enu-eichi-kei (エヌ・エイチ・ケイ). These are the standard names, based on the British English letter names (so Z is from zed, not zee), but in specialized circumstances names from other languages may also be used. For example, musical keys are often referred to by the German names, so that B is called (べー) from German B.

See also

Related Research Articles

Hiragana is a Japanese syllabary, one component of the Japanese writing system, along with katakana, kanji and in some cases Latin script. It is a phonetic lettering system. The word hiragana literally means "ordinary" or "simple" kana.

Katakana is a Japanese syllabary, one component of the Japanese writing system along with hiragana, kanji and in some cases the Latin script. The word katakana means "fragmentary kana", as the katakana characters are derived from components or fragments of more complex kanji. Katakana and hiragana are both kana systems. With one or two minor exceptions, each syllable in the Japanese language is represented by one character or kana, in each system. Each kana represents either a vowel such as "a" ; a consonant followed by a vowel such as "ka" ; or "n", a nasal sonorant which, depending on the context, sounds either like English m, n or ng or like the nasal vowels of Portuguese or Galician.

Kana are the syllabaries that form parts of the Japanese writing system, contrasted with the logographic Chinese characters known in Japan as kanji (漢字). The modern Japanese writing system makes use of two syllabaries: cursive hiragana (ひらがな) and angular katakana (カタカナ). Also classified as kana is the ancient syllabic use of kanji known as man'yōgana (万葉仮名), which was ancestral to both hiragana and katakana. Hentaigana are historical variants of modern standard hiragana. In modern Japanese, hiragana and katakana have directly corresponding sets of characters representing the same series of sounds.

Hepburn romanization is the most widely-used system of romanization for the Japanese language. Originally published in 1867 by American missionary James Curtis Hepburn as the standard used in the first edition of his Japanese–English dictionary, the system is defined from other romanization methods by its use of English orthography to phonetically transcribe sounds: for example, the syllable [ɕi] is written as shi and [tɕa] is written as cha, more accurately reflecting their spellings in English.

Romanization

Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics, is the conversion of writing from a different writing system to the Roman (Latin) script, or a system for doing so. Methods of romanization include transliteration, for representing written text, and transcription, for representing the spoken word, and combinations of both. Transcription methods can be subdivided into phonemic transcription, which records the phonemes or units of semantic meaning in speech, and more strict phonetic transcription, which records speech sounds with precision.

Kunrei-shiki romanization is the Cabinet-ordered romanization system for transcribing the Japanese language into the Latin alphabet. Its name is rendered Kunreisiki rômazi in the system itself. Kunrei-shiki is sometimes known as the Monbushō system in English because it is taught in the Monbushō-approved elementary school curriculum. The ISO has standardized Kunrei-shiki, under ISO 3602.

Japanese language and computers

In relation to the Japanese language and computers many adaptation issues arise, some unique to Japanese and others common to languages which have a very large number of characters. The number of characters needed in order to write English is very small, and thus it is possible to use only one byte (28=256 possible values) to encode one English character. However, the number of characters in Japanese is much more than 256 and thus cannot be encoded using a single byte - Japanese is thus encoded using two or more bytes, in a so-called "double byte" or "multi-byte" encoding. Problems that arise relate to transliteration and romanization, character encoding, and input of Japanese text.

JSL is a romanization system for transcribing the Japanese language into the Latin script. It was devised by Eleanor Jorden for her 1987 book Japanese: The Spoken Language. The system is based on Kunrei-shiki romanization.

Nihon-shiki, or Nippon-shiki Rōmaji, is a romanization system for transliterating the Japanese language into the Latin alphabet. In discussion about romaji, it is abbreviated as Nihon-shiki or Nippon-shiki. Among the major romanization systems for Japanese, it is the most regular one and has a one-to-one relation to the kana writing system.

Polivanov system is a system of transliterating the Japanese language into Russian Cyrillic script, either to represent Japanese proper names or terms in Russian or as an aid to Japanese language learning in those languages. The system was developed by Yevgeny Polivanov in 1917.

Wāpuro rōmaji (ワープロローマ字), or kana spelling, is a style of romanization of Japanese originally devised for entering Japanese into word processors while using a Western QWERTY keyboard.

Japanese writing system Overview of how the Japanese language is written in contemporary times, and the writing systems evolution

The modern Japanese writing system uses a combination of logographic kanji, which are adopted Chinese characters, and syllabic kana. Kana itself consists of a pair of syllabaries: hiragana, used primarily for native or naturalised Japanese words and grammatical elements; and katakana, used primarily for foreign words and names, loanwords, onomatopoeia, scientific names, and sometimes for emphasis. Almost all written Japanese sentences contain a mixture of kanji and kana. Because of this mixture of scripts, in addition to a large inventory of kanji characters, the Japanese writing system is considered to be one of the most complicated in current use.

The classical Japanese language, also called "old writing", is the literary form of the Japanese language that was the standard until the early Shōwa period (1926–89). It is based on Early Middle Japanese, the language as spoken during the Heian period (794–1185), but exhibits some later influences. Its use started to decline during the late Meiji period (1868–1912) when novelists started writing their works in the spoken form. Eventually, the spoken style came into widespread use, including in major newspapers, but many official documents were still written in the old style. After the end of World War II, most documents switched to the spoken style, although the classical style continues to be used in traditional genres, such as haiku and waka. Old laws are also left in the classical style unless fully revised.

Jōruri (浄瑠璃) can refer to:

Japanese input method Methods used to input Japanese characters on a computer

Japanese input methods are used to input Japanese characters on a computer.

In Japanese writing, the kana (hiragana) and (katakana) occupy the fourth place, between う and お, in the modern Gojūon (五十音) system of collating kana. In the Iroha, they occupy the 34th, between こ and て. In the table at right, え lies in the first column and the fourth row. Both represent.

Taiwanese kana

Taiwanese kana is a katakana-based writing system that was used to write Taiwanese Hokkien when the island of Taiwan was under Japanese rule. It functioned as a phonetic guide to hanzi, much like furigana in Japanese or Zhuyin fuhao in Chinese. There were similar systems for other languages in Taiwan as well, including Hakka and Formosan languages.

Language input keys, which are usually found on Japanese and Korean keyboards, are keys designed to translate letters using an input method editor (IME). On non-Japanese or Korean keyboard layouts using an IME, these functions can usually be reproduced via hotkeys, though not always directly corresponding to the behavior of these keys.

Yotsugana Four kana in Japanese that are pronounced the same in some regions

Yotsugana are a set of four specific kana, じ, ぢ, ず, づ, used in the Japanese writing system. They historically represented four distinct voiced morae (syllables) in the Japanese language. However, Standard Japanese and the dialects of most Japanese-speakers have merged those morae down to two sounds.

This article explains the transcription of the Japanese language in the Esperanto alphabet. Esperantists often use non-Esperanto transcriptions, such as Hepburn and Kunrei. However, the need for a transcription in the Esperanto alphabet is essential for non-Japanese speaking Esperantists to be able to pronounce words.

References

Citations

  1. Walter Crosby Eells (May 1952). "Language Reform in Japan". The Modern Language Journal. 36 (5): 210–213. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4781.1952.tb06122.x. JSTOR   318376.
  2. "Oomoto.or.jp". Oomoto.or.jp. 2000-02-07. Retrieved 2011-02-25.
  3. "Age.ne.jp". Age.ne.jp. Retrieved 2011-02-25.
  4. "ヘボン式ローマ字と異なる場合(非ヘボン式ローマ字)". Kanagawa Prefectural Government . Retrieved 2018-08-19.

Sources

  • Chibbett, David (1977). The History of Japanese Printing and Book Illustration. Kodansha International Ltd. ISBN   0-87011-288-0.
  • Jun'ichirō Kida (紀田順一郎, Kida Jun'ichirō) (1994). Nihongo Daihakubutsukan (日本語大博物館) (in Japanese). Just System (ジャストシステム, Jasuto Shisutem). ISBN   4-88309-046-9.
  • Tadao Doi (土井忠生) (1980). Hōyaku Nippo Jisho (邦訳日葡辞書) (in Japanese). Iwanami Shoten (岩波書店).
  • Tadao Doi (土井忠生) (1955). Nihon Daibunten (日本大文典) (in Japanese). Sanseido (三省堂).
  • Mineo Ikegami (池上岑夫) (1993). Nihongo Shōbunten (日本語小文典) (in Japanese). Iwanami Shoten (岩波書店).
  • Hiroshi Hino (日埜博) (1993). Nihon Shōbunten (日本小文典) (in Japanese). Shin-Jinbutsu-Ôrai-Sha (新人物往来社).

Further reading