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Thread: Pronunciation of Chinese names in Japanese

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    Pronunciation of Chinese names in Japanese

    Hi,

    I've heard that Chinese names can be directly pronounced in Japanese through kanji, since kanji is basically Chinese characters. I'd like to know if this Chinese name can be pronounced in Japanese:
    胡 敬 為


    I've done an exhaustive search on the net. Could only get translated meanings but not the pronunciation. Would be glad if someone can help me. Thanks a lot.
    Last edited by Flaminius; 28th June 2007 at 12:56 PM. Reason: Rule 22 Please apply standard writing conventions. ;-)

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    Re: how is chinese names pronounced in japanese?

    My Japanese teachers always write my name in katakana according to how my name is pronounced in Chinese. But then, that's just my personal experience.


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    Re: how is chinese names pronounced in japanese?

    Chinese and Japanese are completely different languages written with the same characters. So there is no conversion rule, but to read it in one language or another: let's wait for natives' answers!

    Samanthalee: that's very unusual! I think the most common thing is to read the name's characters in Japanese, directly!

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    Re: how is chinese names pronounced in japanese?

    Quote Originally Posted by samanthalee View Post
    Not exactly true for Japanese names pronounced in Chinese. We always use the Chinese pronunciation of the Kanji. And sometimes when a Japanese name is written in Hiragana (eg. 宇多田ひかる, 江角まきこ), we'll find a Kanji that corresponds with the Hiragana and pronounce the Kanji in the Chinese way.
    Ok, samanthalee, I see your point . But isn't it more usual to pronounce Chinese names as their kanji's sound in Japanese, and vice versa? I think that's the historical way to do it...

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    Re: How is Chinese names pronounced in Japanese?

    Quote Originally Posted by hayabusa View Post
    I'd like to know if this Chinese name can be pronounced in Japanese:
    胡 敬 為
    They are respectively, ko (こ), kē (けい), i (い). They reflect Middle or older Chinese pronunciation with modifications according to the limit of Japanese phonological palette. For example, in place of /h/ which did not exist in Japanese, 胡 (MC hu) is pronounced with /k/.
    I've done an exhaustive search on the net. Could only get translated meanings but not the pronunciation. Would be glad if someone can help me. Thanks a lot.
    Try this site for future queries. And don't forget to check our resources section!
    Always give as much context as you think unnecessary. How do you like your lamb leg steak? — Medium, right leg!

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    Re: How is Chinese names pronounced in Japanese?

    Judging by textbooks and Chinese personal and geographical names I have across, I noticed that Japanese try to approximate to the Chinese pronunciation even if the readings of characters doesn't match both on- or kun-yomi.

    Giving romanised pronunciation of some Chinese names in Japanese:
    北京 Pekin (Beijing in Mandarin)
    上海 Shanhai
    李 Rii
    馬 Maa
    方 Fan
    It depends on the name, on its history and how much you want to follow the original pronunciation:

    President 胡 錦濤 Hu Jintao can be pronounced in Japanese as "Ko Kintoo" ("on'-reading) or "Fuu (or Huu) Jintao" (Chinese approximation)

    毛沢東 - the Japanese version of 毛泽东 (trad. 毛澤東) - Máo Zédōng is pronounced もう たくとう (Mō Takutō).

    The other way around is not working - Japanese names in Chinese are ALWAYS pronounced the Chinese way, disregarding the original Japanese pronunciation, eg. 大阪 (simpl.: 大坂) Dàbǎn - Osaka. Abe Shinzou (Shinzo Abe) becomes Ānbèi Jìnsān (安倍晋三) in Mandarin.
    Last edited by Anatoli; 28th June 2007 at 4:09 PM.
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    Re: How is Chinese names pronounced in Japanese?

    Traditional on readings will usually be used for the name, and although they may be disregarded at times, if you use standard on reading you probably won't go wrong. Examples: Deng Xiao Ping: 鄧小平(とう しょうへい), Mao Ze Dong: 毛 沢東(もう たくとう).

    Based on this, I would assume that the name you cite would be こけいい.

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    Re: How is Chinese names pronounced in Japanese?

    Quote Originally Posted by palomnik View Post
    Traditional on readings will usually be used for the name, and although they may be disregarded at times, if you use standard on reading you probably won't go wrong. Examples: Deng Xiao Ping: 鄧小平(とう しょうへい), Mao Ze Dong: 毛 沢東(もう たくとう).

    Based on this, I would assume that the name you cite would be こけいい.
    Yes, that would be 和名表記 but 発音転記 is also used, IMHO (?) so 発音転記 for Deng Xiaoping could also be トン シャオピン.
    Анатолий أناتولي 阿纳托利 アナトーリー 아나톨리 अनातोली อานาโตลี آناتولی

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    Re: How is Chinese names pronounced in Japanese?

    I wonder what natives have to say. Is the general trend to approximate the Mandarin pronunciation where possible or use on-yomi for not so less known or new Chinese names?
    Анатолий أناتولي 阿纳托利 アナトーリー 아나톨리 अनातोली อานาโตลี آناتولی

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    Re: How is Chinese names pronounced in Japanese?

    I got this from a website called j-talk. 胡敬為 = ebisu kei tame in romaji. It sounds like a vegetable . Hiragana goes: えびす けい ため . It seems different from こけいい ko ke i. Now I'm puzzled. It seems like there're many pronounciations to a single kanji.
    Last edited by Flaminius; 29th June 2007 at 7:09 PM. Reason: Please please abide by Rule #22

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    Re: How is Chinese names pronounced in Japanese?

    Quote Originally Posted by hayabusa View Post
    i got this from a website called j-talk. 胡敬為 = ebisu kei tame in romaji. sounds like a vegetable . hiragana goes: えびす けい ため . seems different from こけいい ko ke i.. now i'm puzzled. seems like there're many pronounciations to a single kanji.
    Yes, indeed. Other people mentioned this as well.
    Most kanji have 2 readings but many more than 2:
    音読み (おんよみ) on-yomi (Chinese) reading of kanji
    訓読み (くんよみ) kun-yomi (Japanese) reading of kanji

    Here's the kanji info for your characters, including Chinese pronunciation of the same characters:


    [On] U KO GO
    [Kun] nanzo
    [Pinyin] hu2 (modern standard Chinese)


    [On] KEI KYOU
    [Kun] uyama.u
    [Pinyin] jing4 (modern standard Chinese)


    [On] I

    [Kun] tame na.ru na.su su.ru tari tsuku.ru nari
    [Pinyin] wei4 wei2 (modern standard Chinese)

    You'll find this in any Japanese textbook, if you're more than just curious.

    When transcribing modern Chinese names the ON-reading is used and sometimes approximation to the actual Chinese when possible using Japanese phonology.
    Like I mentioned above 胡錦濤 (Hu Jintao) can be pronounced as "Ko Kintoo" or "Fu/Hu Jintao" but the choice for reading is only between ON-yomi (more likely) and Mandarin.
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    Re: How is Chinese names pronounced in Japanese?

    Quote Originally Posted by hayabusa View Post
    i got this from a website called j-talk. 胡敬為 = ebisu kei tame in romaji. sounds like a vegetable . hiragana goes: えびす けい ため . seems different from こけいい ko ke i.. now i'm puzzled. seems like there're many pronounciations to a single kanji.
    こけいい sounds wierd. こっけい滑稽(meaning:funny) instantly comes to my mind. My name sounds wierd too if pronounced according to ONYOMI, something like 醤油, so I usually just use the Mandarin pronunciation noted with KATAKANA, it's cool!

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    Re: How is Chinese names pronounced in Japanese?

    Ok, now I get it. As far as names are concerned, Japanese to Chinese sounds ok, but Chinese to Japanese will sound weird.

    Quote Originally Posted by kareno999 View Post
    こけいい sounds wierd. こっけい滑稽(meaning:funny) instantly comes to my mind. My name sounds weird too if pronounced according to ONYOMI, something like 醤油, so I usually just use the Mandarin pronunciation noted with KATAKANA, it's cool!

    How can I use this katakana pronunciation for my name?
    Last edited by Flaminius; 29th June 2007 at 7:12 PM. Reason: Rule #22

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    Re: How is Chinese names pronounced in Japanese?

    Back to the topic,
    Chinese proper names are usually pronounced with on-reading of kanjis, whether the name is ancient or modern. Publications in Chinese studies and other technical materials may provide furigana (pronunciation tips for kanji) in katakana that tries to capture the native pronunciation. Also note that the kanjis used for these names are of Japanese variety. Native pronunciations of Chinese proper names are hardly known by the public except for very popular ones such as 北京, 香港, 上海. If the capability of my Japanese input method software is any indication of popularity, 毛沢東 and 小平 are less known by their native names than the three place names above.
    Always give as much context as you think unnecessary. How do you like your lamb leg steak? — Medium, right leg!

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    Re: How is Chinese names pronounced in Japanese?

    Thanks for the insight, Flaminius. As other posters said and I found out when I talked to both Japanese and Chinese people, Japanese language is a little bit more flexible and allows Chinese characters to be pronounced different from 'standard' on- or kun-readings. I also found in some textbooks Chinese names transcribed with furigana using the original Mandarin pronunciation. It won't be known by general public but can we say it is an alternative pronunciation for some less known names?

    I don't mean to be an authority on this but just sharing my observation.

    I noticed that character 鄧 (simplified: 邓) is missing in some Japanese IME's and Deng Xiaoping is therefore written as トウ小平.
    Last edited by Anatoli; 3rd July 2007 at 2:30 AM.
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    Re: How is Chinese names pronounced in Japanese?

    Quote Originally Posted by Flaminius View Post
    They are respectively, ko (こ), kē (けい), i (い). They reflect Middle or older Chinese pronunciation with modifications according to the limit of Japanese phonological palette. For example, in place of /h/ which did not exist in Japanese, 胡 (MC hu) is pronounced with /k/.

    Try this site for future queries. And don't forget to check our resources section!
    Brilliant explanation. I wonder, though, if there isn't something more than the limitations of the Japanese phonological palette at work behind this. Pronunciation patterns for foreign words were developed a long time ago, for kanji first, and for all other languages more recently. THese heavily approximated pronunciation patterns may have looked satisfactory to people over a hundred years ago (I am mainly referring to katakana pronunciation of foreign words), when literacy rates were low and foreign words were akin to messages from space, but I think they are hopelessly inadequate today and seriously impair a Japanese speaker's capacity to understand these words when they are pronounced by a native. Unfortunately, while people are technically (anatomically and neurally) capable of better phonetic approximations of the original words, they stick to these anachronistic patterns simply because they are the established norm. I wonder if someone has written on this.

    I should hurry to point out that this phenomenon is by no means exclusive to Japan. In Italy people are still comfortable with italianized spellings coined during the Fascist period (1920-40): Parigi (Paris), Anversa (Antwerpen), etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anatoli View Post
    I noticed that Japanese try to approximate to the Chinese pronunciation even if the readings of characters doesn't match both on- or kun-yomi.
    Very good point, thanks for making it.
    Last edited by _forumuser_; 3rd July 2007 at 8:12 AM.

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    Re: How is Chinese names pronounced in Japanese?

    Moderation Note:
    The discussion about how MC /h/ was adopted into Japanese is now a new thread in EHL.



    Back to Flam the poster. . .
    Quote Originally Posted by hayabusa View Post
    How can I use this katakana pronunciation for my name?
    What you are looking for is the katakana approximation of the native pronunciation of your name. I'd transcribe the pinyin Hú Jìngwéi as フー・チンウェイ.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anatoli
    Japanese language is a little bit more flexible and allows Chinese characters to be pronounced different from 'standard' on- or kun-readings.
    True but native Chinese pronunciation tends to be used more in conversational context and on less formal occasions.
    Last edited by Flaminius; 3rd July 2007 at 4:18 PM. Reason: addition and more addition
    Always give as much context as you think unnecessary. How do you like your lamb leg steak? — Medium, right leg!

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    Re: How are Chinese names pronounced in Japanese?

    Quote Originally Posted by hayabusa View Post
    Hi,

    I've heard that Chinese names can be directly pronounced in Japanese through kanji, since kanji is basically Chinese characters. I'd like to know if this Chinese name can be pronounced in Japanese:
    胡 敬 為


    I've done an exhaustive search on the net. Could only get translated meanings but not the pronunciation. Would be glad if someone can help me. Thanks a lot.
    This was a political matter. When our prime minister Kakuei Tanaka
    visited China many years ago to reestablish diplomatic relations.
    The Japanese government and chinese government agreed on that
    the japanese can say the chinese names in our way, and the chinese
    call the Japanese name in their own phonetic rules.

    Many Japanese did not know and do not know now how 毛沢東 should
    be pronounced properly in Chinese,


    Hiro Sasaki

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    Re: How is Chinese names pronounced in Japanese?

    Quote Originally Posted by Flaminius View Post
    ..
    True but native Chinese pronunciation tends to be used more in conversational context and on less formal occasions.
    Thanks for clarifying this, Flaminius.

    In what cases Chinese names are rendered in katakana? Is this also colloquial?

    Examples:
    シンリン・ワン - 王心凌 Cyndi Wang (Wáng Xīnlín)
    スー・チー - 舒淇 (Shū Qí)
    ワン・シューチェン 王樹沈 (Wáng Shùchén)

    The katakana is matching the original.
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    Re: How are Chinese names pronounced in Japanese?

    Is this also colloquial?
    By no means are they colloquial, although an article on movie/pop stars are admittedly less formal than an NHK news clip quoting the Chinese ambassador to Tokyo commenting on insert-something-very-serious-here.

    Ah, thank you for pointing that out, Anatoli. I now realise that the situation is more complicated as it first seemed to me.

    Figures from entertainment industry are usually referred to with the katakana transcription of their names. It is true that often the kanji representations are to be found somewhere in the same article but not always. I heard of チャン・ツィイー long before knowing the actress is 章子怡 (Zhāng Zǐyí). If I include Chinese actors from outside Mainland, who are better-known by their Anglicised nom de théâtre, I can say that I know far more Chinese actors by their phonetic names than by their kanji names.

    Novelists and journalists are often have their names provided with furigana in their native pronunciations but on-reading is sometimes found. Seeing some furigana appearing in native pronunciations in one publisher and in on-readings in another, I think it depends on editorial policies of medias as well as the author's personal preference.

    In fact proper names with more than one pronunciation are not rare in Japanese. Here are two examples of native Japanese. A literary critic named 呉智英 pronounces his name くれともふさ (Kure, Tomofusa) but allows the on-reading ご・ちえい as well. 水上勉, a novelist, was born as みずかみつとむ (Mizukami, Tsutomu) and never changed the pronunciation. Yet he was mistaken for みなかみ (there is a famous hot spring by this pronunciation) by some for a long time. I realised my mistake when the newspaper I read started applying furigana to his name several years before he died.
    Always give as much context as you think unnecessary. How do you like your lamb leg steak? — Medium, right leg!

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