Thread: Kanji help?
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Old 12-03-2006, 07:17 PM   #15
Carl Thompson
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Location: Kasama
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 488
Re: Kanji help?

Soon-Kian Phang wrote:
However, when Japanese living in this country write about those places in their community newspaper, they use the phonetic transcription, rather than Kanji. I guess it's because the Kanji names for these places are not well known outside the country (or by the Japanese living here) On the other hand, references to places like Taiwan or China are usually written using Kanji as these are more well known.
I guess Taiwan and Peking (Beijing) are "safe" but other words and names with Chinese characters aren't. Look at 手紙 Tegami. In Japanese it means "letter". In Chinese, I believe it means "toilet paper". That's one reason for putting stuff into katakana.

Soon-Kian Phang wrote:
As to why I suggested kashira rather than atama... well... it sounds more artistic (also, one would tend to remember a name with a slightly unusual reading) As you know, kashira has a second meaning of group chief (the first meaning being the part of the body). So, taka no kashira has a double meaning - i.e. the head of the hawk and chief of hawks On the other hand, atama tends to refer specifically to the physical body part or the mind.
It's an interesting subject. My level of Japanese is "okay", but I wasn't clear on the nuance of the extra meaning behind kashira. I know gang bosses use it. I mentioned it to a Japanese friend and it seems like you got the right idea. Cool

Soon-Kian Phang wrote:
One problem with rendering the name in Kanji is that it may be open to different pronunciations... so unless the reader is relatively familiar with foreign names, she may not be clear on the intended name.
Kanji may have several different pronunciations (e.g.: The character生 has twenty readings) but there are rules. When it's an unusual reading, they use furigana. A lot of girls use hiragana for their given names, but nowadays kanji is becoming the norm. It also happens that there are quite a few Japanese people who have katakana in their names, especially really old Japanese ladies. You sometimes see them on the news when they do segments on remote country areas which are full of people over the age of a hundred. I was interested to read about the family in Kansai.

In the case of foreigners, some people have names that are too long to fit on a hanko in katakana or romaji, so it's a lot more convenient to put their names in kanji. Others just like it. For example, a German friend here has Ri-Hi-Ta李陽多 on her official hanko.

In my case, I'm happy with "Kaaru" in katakana, since it's gairaigo for "Curl" and is also the name of a cheesy snack.
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