KudoZ home » English to Japanese » Other

Foreign name

Japanese translation: any foreign name CAN be written in kanji BUT ...

Advertisement

Login or register (free and only takes a few minutes) to participate in this question.

You will also have access to many other tools and opportunities designed for those who have language-related jobs
(or are passionate about them). Participation is free and the site has a strict confidentiality policy.
GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:foreign names into kanji
Japanese translation:any foreign name CAN be written in kanji BUT ...
Entered by: xxxjsl
Options:
- Contribute to this entry
- Include in personal glossary

16:17 Aug 17, 2002
English to Japanese translations [PRO]
/ Name and karate type on black belt
English term or phrase: Foreign name
Can foreign names be translated into Kanji?

We have a client who wants to have her name (Janice Gatlin) and karate type (goju-ryu karate-do) stiched onto her black belt. A translator informed us that foreign names would never be officially written in Kanji, but yet our client is very persistant about this. The translator submitted the translation in Katakana and our client refused to accept this work.

Any professional feedback would be sincerely appreciated!
Premier Focus
Canada
Local time: 20:35
My thought
Explanation:
Though there are several answers given already, I rather want to say something different.

Basically, any foreign name CAN be written in kanji, as Mike Sekine-san has suggested. But, I do not think I, merely as a translator, can propose any kanji name for her.

I think there are several factors in decding what characters are to be used in kanji names. A first factor will be to choose characters that match the sounds of original names, and a second foctor will be to consider the meanings of kanji characters to be selected. Since Chinese characters are not merely phonetic characters but symbolic characters, one should consider their meanings before he or she choose the ones.

I would recommend that she ask her Japanese friends, her friends who know Japanese, or her karate master to show her possible Chinese characters that matches her name phonemically (maybe, ja, ni, and su), that she ask them each character's meanings, and that she finally decide which character she want to use with the consultation. Maybe she also wants to ask how poeple (in particular, native Japanese speakers) fell about a possible string of characters.

In addition, there might be another option in choosing characters: without considering anything about the meaning of characters, just choose ones that she finds to be cool. Recently, in the states, many American people have Chinese characters on their caps or on the shirts, and I heard that they are chosen based on how they look. I do not understand this concept, but it seems that there are characters that look "cool" to them. Though Chinese characters are symbolic, this might be an option without being bothered by symbolic meanings.

To me, I cannot propose any kanji name as an unknown translator, and I personally feel that proposing one is presumptuous :-) .
Selected response from:

xxxjsl
Local time: 09:35
Grading comment
daisuke: Thank you very much for your comments! In the end you basically confirmed what we had assumed all along. However, as people who do not speak Japanese, we turned to this forum to get everyones opinion and to try to explain to the client what is really involved in this little project of hers.

It was very hard for me to hand out these KudoZ to just one person, because everyone in this forum put so much effort into their answers and did so much research! We read every single one of your posts, learned so much about the Japanese language and -thoroughly- enjoyed reading everyones feedback. Thank you to everyone for their efforts! I wish I could give all of you 4 points!!!

Kerstin Kr舂er
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

Advertisement


Summary of answers provided
3 +4My thoughtxxxjsl
4 +3Ask your karate instructor for advice.mkj
5 +2Katakanaonlinemika
4 +1麝仁子(Janisu)Shinya Ono
5It is possible..Mike Sekine
5An easy answer for a difficult question,I think!
yura
4Just an idea...
ejprotran
1 +1Theoretically, it is possible,
Eva Blanar


Discussion entries: 1





  

Answers


15 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +2
Katakana


Explanation:
Your translator is absolutely correct. Katakana is a phonetic alphabet in Japanese that is used to express foreign words and names that do not exist in the Japanese language, or to express "imported" foreign words. There is no such Japanese equivalent in Kanji for "Janice Gatlin" unfortunately. Realize that Kanji characters are not used phonetically either. Each kanji character has a meaning - thus a word that has the same sounds can be expressed in many different ways.  For instance 木 (pronounced "ki" means tree), 気(pronounced "ki" means air), 機(pronounced "ki" means machine) etc. A name in Kanji is a combination (and you'd hope your parents have put some thought behind them) of these character's "meanings" - thus it would be difficult even if the translator could find Kanji that sounded similar to your client's name and combine them - because the meaning of her name would probably come out ridiculous, or maybe something undesirable. Take for instance "ja" - there is a kanji that reads ”邪” and it means evil or wicked, or you could take ”蛇” which means snake. Unless your client plans to be a bad guy in WWF, she probably wouldn't want these characters in her name.

Hope this helps!

onlinemika
United States
Local time: 19:35
PRO pts in pair: 3

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Mike Sekine: see my answer
56 mins

neutral  xxxjsl: Writing it in kanji CAN be an option.
3 hrs
  -> You are right - it CAN be as I've illustrated with "ja" above, and as others have illustrated with their very creative kanji proposals - but it's definitely a creative process and I would say it is not the norm.

agree  Shinya Ono
5 hrs

agree  Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)
12 days
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

38 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 1/5Answerer confidence 1/5 peer agreement (net): +1
Theoretically, it is possible,


Explanation:
but this is not the easiest name for the purpose. What you ought to do is to take the syllabs of the name one by one and find kanjis which are (or may be) pronounced in the same way.

Then, you pick the kanji you like the best (based on the 'looks') and try to combine. There will be - IMHO - six syllabs = 6 kanjis for the name, but the difficulty is that there is no kanji (to my best knowledge...) to be pronounced like 'ja' in Janice. Still, there are 3 possibilities for "ja" (more like in jungle) with the meanings
- person
- shrine, assembling, company
- house, hall
or you might perhaps take the kanji for "young" that has an application read as "ja" in "jakkan" - and then, Janice becomes 'jannisu', with 2 more kanjis to write: ni (the 'n' will be pronounced like in New York, anyway), a 'ni' and a 'su' (the end-of-word u normally is not pronounced). You'll have a choice of lots of kanjis for both.

For the surname, I would suggest to write it as ga-to-rin (there is no 'l' in Japanese, you know).

So, this is a puzzle, but if she picks the characters, it is still advisable to consult with native speakers, to avoid some funny interpretation of the combination.

To write vertically is OK, I personally even prefer that. It makes no difference to the problem, though.

By the way, I was told that in old China, there was a period when only those poems were highly valued, that LOOKED nice, and the exact choice of the kanjis is very important for the Japanese mind as well.

Sorry, I don't have Japanese fonts + kanjis, so I cannot supply you with a suggested solution (I like puzzles).

Eva Blanar
Hungary
Local time: 02:35
Native speaker of: Hungarian
PRO pts in pair: 4

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Shinya Ono: Your comments are thoughtful, based upon a good command of Japanese, and much else.
4 hrs
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
It is possible..


Explanation:
although it not a common practice (or I should say it's not an everyday event), foreign names can be expressed in Kanji.

Example: A Brazillian soccer player, Santos Alessandro, recently was naturalized (just in time for the World Cup) and received a Kanji name. If you can read Japanese characters on your computer, it's 三都主アレサンドロ.

As far as I know, Santos selected his Kanji name on his own. I suppose this is not an option with Janice, but she should instruct her translator with a clear idea as to what her Kanji name should represent, as each and every one of Kanji characters represents/symbolizes something unique. For instance, let me give it a try:

Janice

option one:
蛇児守

蛇 means snake (or you could go with 邪, which means wrongheaed, devious, wicked, dishonest)
児 means child, infant
守 means defense, protection

whoa, that's tasteless, I must say.


--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-08-17 17:28:14 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

option two:

邪尼主

尼 means priestess, nun
主 means principal being, the Lord (God?), master

Mike Sekine
Japan
Local time: 09:35
Native speaker of: Native in JapaneseJapanese
PRO pts in pair: 80

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  onlinemika: option 2 would be "evil/wicked nun master"!! I had to make sure that the asker knew... I doubt the client would want to walk around with "evil nun master" stitched on her back! But then again, maybe she has interesting tastes!
22 mins
  -> like I said, it's tasteless. But then again, I'm not getting paid here either.

neutral  xxxjsl: I agree to your explanation, but to your proposed names ...
2 hrs

neutral  Shinya Ono: "snake-child-protects" is good. Snaked is highly respected and worshipped in Japan and other eastern countries, as well as feared. Except for 邪、I would agree with you, Mike.
4 hrs
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

2 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
Just an idea...


Explanation:
Let's think about it freely, shall we?

樹阿仁崇

Each kanji character stands for...

樹 (jyu): A tree or trees.
阿 (a): To express affinity to a person.
仁 (ni): Tenderness, caring.
崇 (su): High, lofty.

Satoshi



--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-08-17 19:07:05 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

純 (jyun)

If you are not so picky about being restrictive to the letter phonetically, 樹 may be replaced by 純 (jyun).
純 (jyn) stands for ¥"purity.¥" There are not perfect/right kanji letters for foreign names. If you¥'d prefer
letters that sound more phonetically correct, I would just recommend you using katakana for any foreign names.
If you¥'d like the combination/shapes of those letters or whatever, you could choose anything you¥'d like.
Just be careful about the original meaning of each kanji word.




ejprotran
Local time: 09:35
Native speaker of: Native in JapaneseJapanese
PRO pts in pair: 226
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

2 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +3
Ask your karate instructor for advice.


Explanation:
In general, foreign names are written in katakana, phonetic alphabet, when translated into Japanese as Mika stated.

However, there are some people who unofficially use kanji for their names. (Santos case is officially approved?)

In China, they do use Chinese characters for foreign names, but I hear that they are phonetically matching characters. Goju-ryu is probably 沖縄剛柔流, so I have to emphasize we can't apply Chinese customs/rules here.

As far as I know, in traditional Japanese arts and martial arts, the relationship between the instructors(sensei) and students is very important, and students do not usually decide alone on an important issue such as the name on a black belt. I'd advise Janice to go ask her instructor first for advice. If her sensei has a Japanese name, then he may give one of his characters to his accomplished student. For ex, if sensei's name is 竜虎, he might advise the student to use 竜 and combine it with another character x from the student's name. Hence the student's karate name is 竜x.

Even if sensei doesn't have a Japanese name, it's probably wiser to ask him for advice and work together with the translator for the choice of possible
Chinese characters for Janice Gatlin.

mkj
United States
Local time: 17:35
PRO pts in pair: 217

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  onlinemika
16 mins

agree  xxxjsl
1 hr

agree  Shinya Ono: I agree, and if he approves, I hope he knows kanji. Because many world-class karate masters are now non-Japanese.
2 hrs
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

3 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
麝仁子(Janisu)


Explanation:
Ms. Mika's points are well-taken. But let me give it a try.

麝 comes from musk deer(麝香鹿), perfume
仁 benevolence
子 child (usually pronounced "ko" meaning a child; many women's names end with this character. It is of course pronounced "su" as well. If you prefer, you can use 守 (protect)  主 (master) 素 (natural, element). I will try to find a character for "ja" that is easier to write, because even I can't write it without practice.

Reference: Kodansha's 日本語大辞典 (Large Japanese Language Dictionary)

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-08-17 20:31:12 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

闍 (ja) a Chinese character linked with Buddhist scripture and practioners as in 阿闍梨 (ajari). This character is made up of two characters: 門 (gate) and 者 (a person).

For ¥"ni¥" options include: 丹 (scarlet, or red earth), 児 (child), ニ (second)
You can decide on your preference (the best combination) with your sensei¥'s guidance as Ms. mkj rightly points out, depending upon the meaning, ease of recognition (for example, the first option is likely to be read by many as Janiko, although after a simple explanation, they would understand). Many Japanese names cannot be pronounced correctly at first because people choose unusual or even unique ways of pronouncing the characters.

Notes:
1. Chinese characters were used phonetically in Kojiki (one of the oldest written history extant) and Manyoshu poetry collection, if I remember correctly. Also to write down the names of the earliest emperors before Japanese developed kana phonetics.

2. Also, Japanese law basically requires a non-Japanese to write their names in acceptable kanji if they want to become naturalized, which I believe is discriminatory and unnecessary. So, a Finnish-born member of the Upper House is 鶴念氏、not ツルネン氏、 This is applied to sumo champions Akebono, Konishiki, and Musashimaru, and others who want to or need Japanese citizenship. I think the law will be changed soon.
I hope it helps,
Shinya


--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-08-17 20:57:45 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

About 闍: 門 connotes a school or discipline. 門下means a student under a teacher while 入門 means to ¥"enter a (traditional type¥" school or come under the tutelage of a teacher.¥" So, a person (者) under 門 has a relevant relationship to your client¥'s situation. 


--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-08-17 21:43:35 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Yes, your surname: My recommendation
芽(Ga) Sprout 雅 (graceful) 我(I)  賀 (celebrate)
途 (to) on way to 土 (earth) 徒 (follower, empty-handed)
林 (rin, close to lin) woods 輪 (circle, ring) 凛 (resolute) 鈴 (bell)  倫 (ethics, colleagues)
There are many more. But I selected the ones that may be suitable.


--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-08-17 23:09:14 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Note 3. America used to be written 亜米利加。 Similarly, with Canada(加奈陀), France, Los Angeles, Holland, and 英吉利(Englalnd). That¥'s why US is still called「米国」. Same for some great persons such as 基督(Christ), 仏陀(Buddha)、et al. I don¥'t mean to belabor the point. 

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-08-17 23:34:04 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Note 3. America used to be written 亜米利加。 Similarly, with Canada(加奈陀), France, Los Angeles, Holland, and 英吉利(Englalnd). That¥'s why US is still called「米国」. Same for some great persons such as 基督(Christ), 仏陀(Buddha)、et al. I don¥'t mean to belabor the point. 

Shinya Ono
United States
Local time: 09:35
PRO pts in pair: 121

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  xxxHIROSE: さすがですね!
17 hrs
  -> ありがとうございます。大きな二重の丸をいただいたようです!
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

4 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +4
My thought


Explanation:
Though there are several answers given already, I rather want to say something different.

Basically, any foreign name CAN be written in kanji, as Mike Sekine-san has suggested. But, I do not think I, merely as a translator, can propose any kanji name for her.

I think there are several factors in decding what characters are to be used in kanji names. A first factor will be to choose characters that match the sounds of original names, and a second foctor will be to consider the meanings of kanji characters to be selected. Since Chinese characters are not merely phonetic characters but symbolic characters, one should consider their meanings before he or she choose the ones.

I would recommend that she ask her Japanese friends, her friends who know Japanese, or her karate master to show her possible Chinese characters that matches her name phonemically (maybe, ja, ni, and su), that she ask them each character's meanings, and that she finally decide which character she want to use with the consultation. Maybe she also wants to ask how poeple (in particular, native Japanese speakers) fell about a possible string of characters.

In addition, there might be another option in choosing characters: without considering anything about the meaning of characters, just choose ones that she finds to be cool. Recently, in the states, many American people have Chinese characters on their caps or on the shirts, and I heard that they are chosen based on how they look. I do not understand this concept, but it seems that there are characters that look "cool" to them. Though Chinese characters are symbolic, this might be an option without being bothered by symbolic meanings.

To me, I cannot propose any kanji name as an unknown translator, and I personally feel that proposing one is presumptuous :-) .


xxxjsl
Local time: 09:35
PRO pts in pair: 1002
Grading comment
daisuke: Thank you very much for your comments! In the end you basically confirmed what we had assumed all along. However, as people who do not speak Japanese, we turned to this forum to get everyones opinion and to try to explain to the client what is really involved in this little project of hers.

It was very hard for me to hand out these KudoZ to just one person, because everyone in this forum put so much effort into their answers and did so much research! We read every single one of your posts, learned so much about the Japanese language and -thoroughly- enjoyed reading everyones feedback. Thank you to everyone for their efforts! I wish I could give all of you 4 points!!!

Kerstin Kr舂er

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  onlinemika: very well put daisuke san - I agree that this goes beyond the realm of translation although a transltor can certainly assist in the process by preparing a list of sorts from a 漢和辞典 (a dictionary for kanji) -the decision should ultimately be the client
1 hr

agree  Shinya Ono: Modesty is a virtue. Yes, I presumed that the client and the agency did not have the resources you refer to. So, with no work, I presumed to be of some assistance. But I think I got into it too much. Bastaya.
2 hrs

agree  Naomi Ota
10 hrs

agree  xxxHIROSE: そうですね。名前というのは一人の人間を象徴する物ですから訳は難しいですね(道徳的に)。私が良く友達に頼まれて楽しむ方法は、出産前のご夫婦が参照する「Baby Name List」を使って、その名前にの本来の意味に基づいてその定義を訳したりもします
16 hrs
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

22 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
An easy answer for a difficult question,I think!


Explanation:
After reading about all the ways in and about this problem,I would like to add my 2 cents,if possible.
After spending considerable time in Japan and in Asia,it seems to me that a good solution for this problem is not to use here real name in Kanji,as it does seem to create a problem as to what combination would be correct.
My answer for Janice Gatlin would be to use a professional name or in Japanese "Geimei" as do most T.V. personalities or famous persons do.
This would be a wonderfully simple asnwer to a rather difficult problem...Regards Janice...
P.S.
She should ask someone she regards with respect to give her a "Geimei" to use on her belt. I did the same thing,I asked my teacher to present me with a Japanese name to have embossed on my black belt and uniform. It would be similar to the Japanese Sumo wrestlers who are given names by their stable masters.


    Reference: http://www3.ocn.ne.jp/~tec/
yura
Local time: 09:35
PRO pts in pair: 4
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)




Return to KudoZ list


KudoZ™ translation help
The KudoZ network provides a framework for translators and others to assist each other with translations or explanations of terms and short phrases.



See also:



Term search
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search