Romanisation (E/J)

Aaron Gerow gerow
Wed Mar 12 22:03:50 EST 2003

Thanks to Stephen for the support and the critical comments.

The name thing is a tough call. True, if the person wants to call himself 
that, then there are reasons to support that. The case of Hong Kong 
actors is a good case in point. But there are still many things I am 
concerned with. First and foremost, is the fear that some of the names 
are not really decided by the person himself, but just the product of a 
publicist with a bad knowledge of romanization rules. Anglicizations like 
George and Joe are understandable, but it seems Koudou is more the 
product of bad romanization than personal choice. Even when the person 
himself decides, I would hope that they know romanization rules before 
they do it. Second, there is still the problem of consistency. I actually 
tried to look up Kudo Yuki in the IMDB using "Kudo Yuki" and her name did 
not show up--even though that is what those who know Japanese would 
search under. The problem with personally chosen names is that the user 
looking for the information needs to have extra knowledge of these 
idiosyncratic romanizations and Anglicizations in order look up the 
information. How can we know the personally chosen names of all these 
actors? It just makes it hard to pursue and share information. That's 
what standardization is all about. It helps when some databases like the 
IMDB include alternative names, but even the IMDB is incomplete and many 
databases or libraries do not include alternative names. So therefore you 
get cases in which there's some information under the properly romanized 
name and some under the personally chosen name--as if there are two 
different people. Perhaps the best solution is just to enforce 
romanization rules while noting alternative names when the technology and 
space permits it.

Tom writes:

>In the end, though, it remains a strange and illogical thing to me that one 
would write/
>romanise a title in non-existent words (be it 'uozu' or 'rabu retta') when 
the original
>version was meant to express a perfectly normal English word.

I'm afraid you're just missing the point. 'Uozu' or 'rabu retta' are not 
non-existent words, they are English words that have been turned into 
Japanese words. That's why a lot of katakana words (gairaigo) appear in 
Japanese dictionaries. They are part of the Japanese language. Rendering 
it as 'uozu' or 'rabu retta' is simply rendering it the way it is in 
Japanese. When the producer wants to use the English word, he or she can 
use the English word with English letters. There are plenty of cases of 
that. If they want to use the Japanese adaptation of the English word 
instead of the English word itself, we must respect that choice when 

Aaron Gerow
Associate Professor
International Student Center
Yokohama National University
79-1 Tokiwadai
Hodogaya-ku, Yokohama 240-8501
E-mail: gerow at
Phone: 81-45-339-3170
Fax: 81-45-339-3171

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