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Old 10-04-2005, 11:35 AM   #26
senshincenter
 
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Re: Honbu or Hombu?

I've been taught (and have come to agree with) that good language programs in Japanese do NOT bother with any romanization at all. Maybe you are just in a good Korean language program. :-)

David M. Valadez
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Old 10-04-2005, 06:09 PM   #27
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Re: Honbu or Hombu?

Quote:
Soon-Kian Phang wrote:
Coincidentally, I am learning Korean. And I started with their alphabet (no romanization). Why is romanization so much more difficult for Korean than Japanese? I am curious.
Can of worms slowly opening ...

Korean has lots of consonats, lots of vowels, and they all mix together to make soup. Next, there are three systems of romanisation of which Koreans know none as they don't need them. Therefore, they just write anything they please.

The Korean govt. made the latest version in 2000 and has slowly being trying to get things in order, but most scholars prefer the old system and still use that. Finally, linguistic scholars use their own version. Basically, don't even go there - just learn the Korean alphabet.

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Old 10-04-2005, 07:51 PM   #28
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Re: Honbu or Hombu?

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
I've been taught (and have come to agree with) that good language programs in Japanese do NOT bother with any romanization at all
Well... I have to admit that I got confused with the Katakana 'ro' 「ロ」and the Korean 'mieum' [m]. Unfortunately, they are written in the same way and both writing systems are phonetic

Quote:
Rupert Atkinson wrote:
Next, there are three systems of romanisation of which Koreans know none as they don't need them. Therefore, they just write anything they please. Basically, don't even go there - just learn the Korean alphabet.
Thanks for the heads-up... I'll stick with Hangul
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Old 10-04-2005, 08:46 PM   #29
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Re: Honbu or Hombu?

Quote:
Jun Akiyama wrote:
Using Google Battle, a site which returns to you the number of "results" indexed for two certain keywords in Google and lets you know which one is used more often, "honbu" is, indeed, used much more at 410,000 results and "hombu" at less than a third of that at 134,000 (results).

However, taking into account Peter Goldsbury's thoughts on the Japanese term for "newspaper," I found out that "shinbun" returns 818,000 results and "shimbun" 6,780,000 results (results).
Akiyama san, thanks for the statistics. It's possible that the Japanese word for "newspaper" would be found more often in a website hosted in Japan. Hence, the preference for the "standardized" [shimbun] as found in Yomiuri Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun, etc... It's also possible that the word [Hombu]/[Honbu] was found on a number of websites not hosted in Japan. Because the standard Kanji Romanization is Honbu, we find more instances of Honbu than Hombu. The other thing is that [Hombu] isn't as widely known as [Shimbun], so people may use the [Honbu] Romanization.

Since the Aikikai and Yoshinkan websites use [Hombu], I guess I'll stick to "Hombu" as well
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Old 10-05-2005, 01:13 PM   #30
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Re: Honbu or Hombu?

Oh my, I see I have been needed here The correct answer has basically been given, but I feel the need to sum up, add some detail, and knock out a few misconceptions. I now see that the thread has started to run away from me since I started writing this, so I better post this quickly before it becomes entirely irrelevant. Sorry to repeat some things others have said, and for not attributing quotes to the various individuals.

First a frame of reference: the sound (phoneme) at issue here is what is known as the "mora nasal" in Japanese linguistics circles. Aside from being the only consonant which can close a syllable, it is also a kind of "promiscuous" (my word ) sound, in that it will match certain of its features to whatever sound comes next to (after) it. When it is not followed by a consonant in the same word (e.g. /hon/ 'book', /hen'atsuki/ 'voltage transformer'), the default pronunciation is as a uvular, which means your tongue touches way in the back of your throat, even further back than for [k] and [g] (in some dialects it may be the same place as [k,g], I'm not sure). When it is followed by a labial ([b], [p] or [m]) however, it becomes labial ([m]), when it is followed by a velar such as [k] it becomes velar (c.f. English "think", "sing"), etc.

Quote:
I think you are mixing up pronouncing and writing.
Precisely!

Quote:
Uttering the word is governed by the conventions of euphony, or ease of pronunciation. So it becomes shimbun, Hombu.
Yes and no. How things are pronounced is governed mostly by phonology, although phonology is often influenced historically by such things as ease of pronunciation. In this case, the mora nasal becomes an [m] before [p,b,m] not because it's easier to say, but because it is so determined by the phonology of Japanese. The point is this: if it were only a question of ease for the speaker, it would be ok for people who like to always do things the hard way to pronounce words like /honbu/ as [hoNbu] rather than [hombu]. But it's not ok. It's a "rule" that that sound is realized as [m] in production. If a native speaker went around saying [hoNbu], people would begin to steer clear of him with sidelong glances. This is a textbook example of phonology.

Quote:
Every consonant in Japanese except 'n' is followed by a vowel. so there is no way of writing 'shinbun' with an 'm'
Except in roomaji And actually this is not strictly true, either, if you accept the theory that small "tsu" is a consonant (called the mora consonant) which is followed by another consonant in doubling situations.

Quote:
If I remember correctly, the linguistic terminology for this would be "reverse assimilation in the place of articulation."
Actually it's "regressive". I used to say "reverse" all the time, too, until I finally learned it This sort of regressive nasal assimiliation is very common among the world's languages. English certainly does it.

Quote:
the lazy human mouth decides that it'll save it some trouble and uses nasal bilabial consonant (ie "m") rather than a nasal alveolar consonant
Now now, we don't make value judgements such as "lazy" in linguistics

Quote:
You'll see such things even in English in words such as "impossible" (which most likely came from adding the prefix "in-" to the word "possible").
Thank you... here's a beautiful case of a very similar sort of phonologization. The "im-" in this word absolutely does derive from "in-", but ease-of-pronunciation has become encoded as part of the language. Which is to say, you can't say [inpossible].

Quote:
Honbu is how it is written, Hombu is how it is pronounced.
This brings up a good point that we should always keep in mind when trying to "mix" languages and writing systems. Is "honbu" really how it's written? Of course not. It's really written ほんぶ. Why can we say that it's written as "honbu"? Because we are taught that the mora nasal ん represents an 'n' sound, and in general we tend to use the letter 'n' in writing for almost all nasal sounds. Because as English speakers we are not aware of the differences between nasal sounds, many of us don't even notice that the mora nasal is by default a uvular (tongue back) rather than our own default, alveolar (tongue forward).

It's probably safe to say that in all the European languages there are no other letters used for nasal sounds than 'n' and 'm', and all of them except the labials (m and m-like) are spelled with 'n' (possibly with diacritics as in Spanish enya). In English, for example, we use the same letter 'n' to spell the nasal sound in the word "thin" and in the word "think", even though these two sounds are very different - they share nothing in common other than nasality.

So these romanizations are convenient shorthands, conventions, what-have-you... but we need to remember that they are not in the sort of 1-to-1 relationship with the phonetics of Japanese that we like to imagine they are.

Quote:
Another example of this is sushi. Alot of japanese people will say zushi when using it in a sentence. Here is another example.. 'inari sushi' and 'inari zushi'
No, this is an entirely different issue. It's called "rendaku" . And it's not "a lot of Japanese people", it's all of them

Quote:
Sounds like "honbu" so me. Maybe it's just Kansai.
I suspect your perception is being influenced by your knowledge of the writing system, which is probably also enabling a kind of interference from your native language English. On the other hand it's also conceivable that Kansai pronunciation is characterized by a slightly greater degree of uvular closure than for Kantou people. If you're especially sensitive to such acoustics, you might be picking up on something like that. However I'm quite certain that the basic phonology of assimilation discussed above applies just as well to Kansai-ben as to all other dialects.

Quote:
That's true. However, the furigana for inari zushi (one of my favorites) is written as 「いなりずし」 or [inari zushi], so there's no confusion when pronounci
Right. In this case, the phonology is brought to the surface so you can see it in writing (ten-ten). In the case of mora nasal assimilation you can't see the differences in writing, hence this long diatribe

Quote:
Hmmm... that's very interesting. It appears that the Romaji pronunciation is more faithful to the actual pronunciation than the Hiragana one. So, I guess for 「日本橋」 one should read [Nihombashi] and not [Nihonbashi].
It's not a question of faithfulness. Roman transcription (inasmuch as the Hepburn system is the most heavily used) usually opts in favor of representing the pronunciation of things for the benefit of foreigners (we have seen from Peter's anecdote that the newspaper editors preferred this approach). The native writing system of Japanese doesn't need to be so phonetically precise, because speakers of Japanese already know how writing maps to pronunciation. In English as well, we have tons of words that are written in a way which is (apparently) quite different from the way they are pronounced - the result of hundreds of years of history, and contact with other languages. There have been many attempts to change the spelling of English to be more phonetically transparent, but all have failed, and always will fail, because we need the history which is encoded in those bizarre spellings. And as native speakers we have no trouble (usually ) pronouncing them correctly in spite of this.

Quote:
Actually, the locals pronounce it にっぽんばし, and is romanized as Nipponbashi.
Not to be pedantic , but (for reasons alluded to above) pronunciation cannot be encoded in hiragana. Hiragana is an abstraction, almost as much as the way the roman alphabet is used in English! (although certainly not nearly as much as kanji ) Really the best thing to use would be IPA (Int'l Phonetic Alphabet), but lacking that, roomaji will do. This name is pronounced [nippombashi]. Note that native speakers of any language often are not aware of how they really pronounce things, and will often report that they would never say "X", when in fact they say "X" every day. It can take quite a bit of introspection to discover the truth...

Quote:
They may pronounce it as Nipponbashi, but I distinctly remember the Romanization as Nihombashi on the chikatetsu [subway] wall.
I think the confusion here is that there are 2 places with this name, one in Tokyo and one in Osaka. The Tokyo place is [nihombashi] and the Osaka one is [nippombashi]. They are written with the same kanji, of course.

Dave

Last edited by saltlakeaiki : 10-05-2005 at 01:17 PM.

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Old 10-05-2005, 07:48 PM   #31
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Re: Honbu or Hombu?

Great answer - isn't lingusitics great!

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Old 10-05-2005, 08:19 PM   #32
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Re: Honbu or Hombu?

Quote:
Rupert Atkinson wrote:
Great answer - isn't lingusitics great!
It like, totally r00lz

BTW, there was something you said earlier that I wanted to comment on...
Quote:
Think of the word - often - how do you say it? I am from the UK and pronounce the 't', but accept that not everyone in the UK does. However, I have yet to meet an American who pronounces the 't'.
You need to get around more There are TONS of Americans who pronounce the /t/. I don't (I'm from Philadelphia), and I suspect it's primarily northeasterners who don't. Pretty much everyone here in Utah, where I live, pronounces it, and I think that's generally true in the West.

Quote:
But that is pure pronunciation - we don't have any particular rules about it.
Shall we say it's "pure dialect variation"?

Dave

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Old 10-05-2005, 08:45 PM   #33
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Re: Honbu or Hombu?

Quote:
David Iannucci wrote:
I suspect your perception is being influenced by your knowledge of the writing system, which is probably also enabling a kind of interference from your native language English. On the other hand it's also conceivable that Kansai pronunciation is characterized by a slightly greater degree of uvular closure than for Kantou people. If you're especially sensitive to such acoustics, you might be picking up on something like that. However I'm quite certain that the basic phonology of assimilation discussed above applies just as well to Kansai-ben as to all other dialects.
David, no offense, but do not presume to tell me what I hear and what I don't hear.

Last edited by Zato Ichi : 10-05-2005 at 08:49 PM. Reason: Really stupid spelling mistake
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Old 10-06-2005, 05:40 PM   #34
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Re: Honbu or Hombu?

No offense intended to you either, Rob... and you're quite right... I really have no way of knowing what you hear. If anything, it seems to me that I was suggesting that your hearing might be more acute than the average person, though you're under no obligation to take it as a compliment On the other hand, I do have a darn good idea about the way Japanese people talk (including Kansai people). Just to satisfy myself, though, I'll elicit some pronunciation from a couple Osakajin I know here in Salt Lake.

I still haven't quite learned after several years in this biz that people don't always react with fascination when you try to tell them (or even speculate) what's going on in their heads, linguistically. It's nothing you need to take personally. Your private thoughts are private, but the way you process language is not. You are what you speak (to some extent). If you think it would be ridiculous to be offended by the suggestion that your body is subject to the laws of physics, then you shouldn't be offended by what I've said, either.

Dave

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Old 10-08-2005, 08:23 AM   #35
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Smile Re: Honbu or Hombu?

Yeah, gotta love it. Just from a lay person's point of view, this reminds me of my being pestered for two years with the question about whether my name should be spelled and/or pronounced (and you'll have to forgive the inaccurate transliteration as my computer is ancient and I am lazy) "mi sshe ru" with a small "tsu" or "mi she ru" without the small "tsu." My answer was always the same- you choose. I really didn't mind one way or the other because before living in Japan I hadn't known that either possibility existed.
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Old 10-08-2005, 01:51 PM   #36
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Re: Honbu or Hombu?

Quote:
Michelle Cabrera wrote:
I really didn't mind one way or the other because before living in Japan I hadn't known that either possibility existed.
Naturally, because these possibilities only exist in Japan

Dave

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Old 10-12-2005, 09:57 PM   #37
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Question Re: Honbu or Hombu?

Isnt it just like "kenpo" and 'kempo"...i pronounce it as Kempo..but it translated in to english as keNpo?

"When you cease to strive to understand, then you will know without understanding." -- Caine
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Old 10-12-2005, 11:17 PM   #38
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Re: Honbu or Hombu?

I definetly will never study linguistics.
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Old 10-13-2005, 11:32 AM   #39
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Re: Honbu or Hombu?

Quote:
Ani Forbes wrote:
I definetly will never study linguistics.
I have failed

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Old 10-22-2005, 06:55 AM   #40
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Re: Honbu or Hombu?

Quote:
Naturally, because these possibilities only exist in Japan.
Yes, thank you, Mr. Iannucci. That was my point.
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Old 10-22-2005, 01:57 PM   #41
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Re: Honbu or Hombu?

Quote:
David Iannucci wrote:
Naturally, because these possibilities only exist in Japan

Dave
Wrong!
It is more natural speaking. Even the Romans had this problem. You even find it in English words like im-portant and many others. But as they wrote already in Latin characters, the Romans changed writing. And in German we often use the French "bonbon" for sweets and at kid I pronounced it "bomm-bomm". Well, now it might be not so hard, but there is still at least one m in the middle.

Just my 2 cts (but Euro-cents are worth more for the time being )

Dirk
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Old 10-23-2005, 02:31 PM   #42
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Re: Honbu or Hombu?

Quote:
Dirk Hanss wrote:
Wrong! It is more natural speaking. Even the Romans had this problem. You even find it in English words like im-portant and many others.
The possibilities referred to are not related to the above discussion of nasal assimiliation, but rather to the insertion (or not) of the mora consonant (small "tsu") into the coda of the first syllable of Michelle's name

Also, I don't think nasal assimilation is generally considered a "problem"

Dave

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Old 10-23-2005, 02:47 PM   #43
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Re: Honbu or Hombu?

Sorry David,
should have read mor carefully.

Regards Dirk
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