Understanding Japanese Name Translation
By Takanori Tameria
This article will help you understand the difference
between Japanese name translation and English name translation, and help you
understand what goes selecting a name, especially for
There are three different Japanese scripts to write your name in Japanese. In Japanese, you can render your name phonetically, making use of the katakana, hiragana or even kanji.
Kanji script are always used for their meanings exclusively.
Hiragana script are primarily used for words whose kanji are excessively difficult and obscure, as ending for some kanji based words and for particles.
Katakana scripts are used mainly for foreign words and to emphasize native words, serving a role similar to that played by italics in English.
The most popular script for Westerners is the Kanji.
Difference between Japanese name and English name translation Unlike the English name translation, Japanese people used kanji only as phonetic symbols, with no regard for their actual meaning, when translating names in Japanese,
For example, a simple word like 体 (Karada) meaning "body", can also be written with other combination of kanji characters like, 華羅陀 (Ka - flower, ra - change, and da - buddha),
whose meanings bear no relevance at all to the intended meaning.
This method actually applies for the Japanese name translation.
So, can't we write English names with meaning? We have two different ways to write names in kanji with meaning.
Phonetic and eulogistic translation - This is the method that's got it all sound and meaning. It combines kanji characters whose sound approximate the English name being rendered into Japanese. Unlike the Purely phonetic translation called (Ategi) in Japanese, it cares the character's meaning.
For example, writing David in Kanji is 出美奴 (Good looking fellow).
Purely denotative translation - This is the method which sorely on preserving the meaning of the original English name. To be able to do a denotative rendering, it is necessary to know the original meaning of the English name.
For example, if we translate Edward with this method, and the original meaning of Edward is rich guardian, we simply translate rich guardian into Japanese kanji symbols, 富裕保護者.
However, this method is NOT used even for Japanese names.
For more information about the Japanese name symbol translation.
Takanori Tomita is a professional Japanese translator who is specializing only in Japanese symbols. For more information about his, please see his Japanese Symbols and Culture Blog: http://takanoritomita.blogspot.com
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