Ringu Dreamworks (US) DVD Release

Ono Seiko and Aaron Gerow onogerow
Wed Mar 12 04:43:32 EST 2003

Tom makes some very important points, many of which I am familiar with as 
a writer for a daily newspaper. But I think he overstates his points.

>Purely from a practical standpoint however, in many cases 'direct' 
>romanisation yields far too unwieldly results. Writing Perfect Blue as 
>'Paafekutu Buruu', Unlucky Monkey as 'Anrakki Manki', or Dead or Alive as 
>'Deddo Oa Araibu' may be correct romanisation, but they could hardly be 
>called workable.

Personally, if it is unweildy, then just use the accepted English release 
title. I am merely arguing that when in any text you are citing the 
original Japanese title without using Japanese--that is, when you are 
romanizing the Japanese--you should follow the rules. I think few English 
texts use the Japanese title throughout the book. Most just use the 
English and cite the original Japanese only on the first instance. I 
don't think workability is much of an argument here.

>Also, I imagine the vast majority of non-Japanese speakers would pronouncee 
>these romanisations in a way that doesn't even come close to the Japanese 
>pronounciation of the original katakana or even to the original English. It 
>requires some knowledge of the sound scheme on which katakana is based and 
>of the fact that Japanese 'imitate' the sounds of foreign words. As familiar 
>as we all are with these principles, I doubt the casual viewer of Japanese 
>films will be aware of them.

There are arguments for changing romanization rules because they don't 
reflect real pronunciation. The Japanese romanized as an "r" is actually 
pronounced closer to "l" (actually a mix between d and l) so perhaps it 
should be "Lingu" and not "Ringu." I once saw a show in Japan argue that 
it should be Toukyou instead of Tokyo because that reflects the long 
vowel sounds. But the fact is that pronunciation is rather arbitrary. You 
show "Toukyou" to some English speakers and they will probably say 
Too-kyew. Modified-Hepburn has changed over time to accomodate some of 
these differences, but the fact is that any romanization system anywhere 
for any language includes arbitrary rules that, if they are to work best, 
both producers and readers need to know. One can't avoid that. You just 
can't abandon romanization rules just because they aren't perfect. You 
might as well dump all the rules altogether.

>There are numerous problems with romanisation, as you mentioned. It's 
>interesting you should mention Cure, since the romanisation of this title is 
>usually rendered as 'Kyua'. But this is incorrect. If we stick to faithfully 
>rendering the katakana, it would have to be Kiyua (or perhaps Kiyuaa). 
>Surely the average mortal would be much better off finding the title 
>rendered simply as 'Cure', because I'd hate to hear what they would make of 
>the pronounciation of 'Kiyuaa'.

Unfortunately, this only shows the need for knowledge of romanization 
rules. I'm sorry Tom, but there is no romanization rule anywhere that 
says this should be Kiyua. There is a rule that says the big ki with a 
small yu is romanized as kyu. This rule, I think, is a lot more faithful 
to pronunciation that producing Kiyua. Everyone, please study up on the 

>consistency. But for day-to-day practicality? I strongly feel that this 
>aspect too is a responsibility we have towards the people we write for or 

The main question is how much we need to tell non-Japanese speaking 
people what the original Japanese is. Personally, I don't think we need 
to do it that much when it comes to original titles. Mentioning it in 
filmographies or once in the text when the film is first mentioned is 
sufficient. Doing it accurately causes few problems to people; they'll 
probably just use the English title anyway. But when you in a book or 
article provide bad romanization when other texts or other databases are 
doing it the proper way, you are doing a disservice to your readers and 
making it difficult for them to use your text in conjunction with others. 
That's the point of consistent rules. If you decide to make up your own 
romanization rules when databases and libraries are doing it the proper 
way, people will find your work hard to use because your titles don't 
match those used in most institutions. You're only hurting yourself.

Sorry again for the diatribe, but we'd all be better off if we just know 
and stick to the basic rules.

Aaron Gerow
Associate Professor
Yokohama National University

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