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Japan to revise official romanization rules for 1st time in 70 years

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Good move. The old spellings never properly reflected any kind of actual English pronunciation and therefore defeated the purpose.

15 ( +17 / -2 )

Was that so hard?

It’s not like you’re moving a graveyard.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

the official spelling of the central Japan prefecture of Aichi will replace Aiti

It seems Titibu will never be the same again.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

This makes a lot more sense. If the major form of romanization in public was Kunrei style, then fine, but it's not, pretty much anywhere where Romaji is used uses Hepburn style.

In addition this causes no end of confusion at school at the elementary level and continues all the way through school and adulthood as there is a conflict between the romaji system taught at 3rd grade EHS, which directly conflicts with the dominant target foreign language taught in school (English) and so Kunrei style directly conflicts with everything they've been taught about romaji as they see at that point leading to a heck of a lot of confusion. It leads to continued issues with spelling and reading English, issues with pronunciation (compounded by the near absence of teaching of phonics decently in English due to time constraints).

This is just one of the many things that chips away at the chance of kids getting a basic handle on English, it's difficult enough for them as it is given the big differences between the languages and Kunrei-shiki has only compounded the issue.

Romanization of Japanese is fraught with issues, but at least this is a step in the right direction to remove one of the biggest issues with it. Then we can go back to deciding whether it's Ohtani, Ootani, Ôtani, Ōtani, Otani....

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Japanese people are using the Hepburn rules all the time today. The Kunrei-shiki rules that Govt decided 70 years ago seem a little weird/gibberish to me sometimes.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

To be honest, the old spelling never really crops up in everyday usage. One can easily glide by without really noticing it or just thinking the writer has problems writing the word in romaji and is a bit thick or careless

8 ( +13 / -5 )

The Hepburn system, which better reflects English pronunciations, has long been predominantly used in society as well as in officialdom, including on passports and road signs, despite the cabinet deciding in 1954 that their Kunrei-shiki rules would be used in principle.

The Kunrei-shiki rules helped with conjugation but not much else.

Amid concern the divide between official rules and common usage is causing confusion, a subcommittee of the Council for Cultural Affairs deemed it necessary to consider the revision to improve communication.

Japanese bureaucracy will assert its own version of reality versus the vast majority of the public until the last possible moment.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

How many elementary school students do I have in my eikaiwai who have written their names in Kunrei?! Nearly all! The dumbest idea ever invented, and of course still defended by the dinosaurs who run the bureaucracy here.

Change is coming! Come on oyajis, get the hell with it!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Stop writing Oh for Ô / 大

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I can see Huzisan from our house in Tôkyôto, where I live.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Why don't they have a go at Katakana while they're at it? English words ending in -er are always given the nobasu mark, indicating a long vowel. Yet I can think of no instance where the -er ending has a long vowel: Mazaah (mother), fuazaah (father), etc. And if I went into a pub in England and ordered a pint of "lagaah," it's doubtful whether they would understand that I wanted "lager," and probably think I was trying to sound posh.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

So they've been misdirecting Japanese kids for 70 years, making the learning of English tougher than it needed to be. I guess we can assume that the stuff they are failing to fix now will be sorted out in the 2090s.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

I can see Huzisan

This pretty much exemplifies the problem with the old style. No English speaker is going to see that and think it says 'fuji-san', without having to first learn the old stye. And if you have to learn it first, then it makes no sense - may as well just stick with katakana or hiragana, since you have to learn them too.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The other problem I see with the current system is how to write long vowels as in Shohei Otani. Wikipedia represents the name as Shohei Ohtani. But to be consistent, they should write it as Shohhei Ohtani. Unlike in stress-oriented English, the long-short vowel distinction is very important in accent-oriented Japanese.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is decades overdue.

I reckon the problem has always been a failure to recognize that Romaji are not for Japanese people. Romaji are for people who cannot read kana. All Japanese can be written phonetically in kana and all Japanese people can read kana. So the only purpose of Romaji is for foreigners, and the key test of whether Romaji are good or bad is whether they help foreigners produce something approximating to the Japanese sound written on the page. Whether Japanese people think Syo is more traditional or kakkou-ii or whatever than Sho is irrelevant.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Mazaah (mother), fuazaah (father), etc.

That brings back fond memories of Shimura Ken teaching English.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkZuKn-16q8

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I live in Aichi, and if it changes to Aiti may have a confusion with Haiti...

Current Romadi is complicated, Duolingo app has a romadi feature but some sounds do not match, so, hope that these changes help to provide a better consistency of sounds, spelling.

I heard from one Korean that they are developing fast due to their simplified writing system (in comparison to the Chinese and Japanese)

Japan should seriously consider to reduce the use of 3 writing systems, hiragana, katakana and kanji. Kanji has to remain, so, choose only one between Katakana and Hiragana would simplify the educational system.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japanese use romaji on their passports.

In this case, better use Hepburn style on the passports, because much easier to pronounce/call them for foreigners, but Kunrei-shiki style is going to be gibberish overseas and hard to understand Japanese names.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sven Asai

So most tourists , those not English or Japanese language natives and never heard of Hepburn system, then will try to speak the above example, former Aichi, now Aiti, and it will sound like 80 or 8eye? lol

Err what? The article says exactly the opposite, or did I miss something?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Sibuya

Never saw this even once in over 15 years in Tokyo.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@kohakuebisu

Agreed with you. Romaji is for foreigners, not for Japanese. They usually never use Romaji for each other.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

As an english based foreigner in japan, most of the comments here is extremely self-serving. It makes little to no sense changing it, turning “fuji” into “huji” and the list goes on..

if english is really the main concern here, get rid of the bloody katakana..

i’m looking forward to the day our neighbours to north having a field day the moment japan started calling their national treasure “kimti”

0 ( +0 / -0 )

All software languages running world's and Japan's economy use regular English language, no fancy stuff!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

LoL, nobody ever follow the "official rule", because people know in their heart how foolish writing Aiti and Sibuya is, government just catch up with what people think ?

I guess they will catch up with politicians reporting taxes in couple of decades as well.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Japanese use romaji on their passports.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Anything to to with Roman letters causes issues in Japan…

-2 ( +8 / -10 )

Sounds good..

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

So most tourists , those not English or Japanese language natives and never heard of Hepburn system, then will try to speak the above example, former Aichi, now Aiti, and it will sound like 80 or 8eye? lol

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

"The country will switch to the Hepburn rules from the current Kunrei-shiki rules, meaning, for example, the official spelling of the central Japan prefecture of Aichi will replace Aiti. Similarly, the famous Tokyo shopping district known worldwide as Shibuya will be changed in its official presentation from Sibuya."

Good. I'm not trying to impose anything on anyone, but when they think people will pronounce "Sidusi" as "Shizushi" they are nuts. And for those here who say it doesn't matter what foreigners here or people abroad think when Nippon-shiki is used, well, just look at the "Fun-ish" embarrassment of the Tokyo Marathon T-shirts... and that isn't even a Nippon-shiki problem, just that it would be misread and laughed at. You don't see "Shohei Ohtani"'s name being written "Syohei Outani", do you?

And as for the fact that Hebon-shiki has widely been used in society for some time, there has been a move back to Nippon-shiki lately, with most kids these days not knowing Hebon-shiki to save their lives.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I can see Huzisan from our house in Tôkyôto, where I live.

Huzisan is supposed to be word "Fujisan". Tôkyôto is supposed to be pronunciation and its word is "Tokyo".

It seems foreinghers mixed up words and pronunciations.

Ohtani- its pronuciation is originally "outani". Tokyo - pronunciation is "toukyou". Osaka - "ousaka".

Japanese words originally don't have "nobasu marks" or liquid pronunciation. If you listen to very old Japanese movies/dramas maybe 50 years ago, today's pronunciations are different from 50 years ago. Original Japanese pronunciations sounded like a little bit Chinese speaking. That's I noticed.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

The Hepburn system, which better reflects English pronunciations, has long been predominantly used in society as well as in officialdom, including on passports and road signs, despite the cabinet deciding in 1954 that the Kunrei-shiki rules would be used in principle

JGovt just to late 70 years in adopting things that should adopted in the first place, just to show they have made in Japan that working.

Hepburn itself already available since 1867

https://www.dampfkraft.com/romaji-history.html

-5 ( +13 / -18 )

The amount of effort to mess with things they don’t need messed with is amazing.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

The amount of effort to mess with things they don’t need messed with is amazing. Using the spelling of actual Japanese and how it’s typed on a keyboard would be better and Roman language also includes other romantic languages that pronounce things just fine with it being Shibuya. Only English can’t pronounce vowels correctly. Spanish and many other languages have no issues. Seeing Spanish is going to be fine dominate then English soon, planning should be done on that vs English. Or better work on actually using foreign words correctly with pronunciation.

-9 ( +5 / -14 )

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