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Thread: Translating Japanese names to Western ones by using the meaning

  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Translating Japanese names to Western ones by using the meaning

    It's usually possible to translate most given names from one European language into another. Sometimes it's no so clear, as in these examples :

    John (English)
    Jean (French)
    Juan (Spanish)
    Joan (Portuguese)
    Giovanni, Gianni (Italian)
    Jan (German, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian)

    James, Jamie, Jimmy, Jake, Jack (English)
    Jacques (French)
    Jaco (Spanish)

    William (English)
    Guillaume (French)
    Wilhelm (German)
    Willem (Dutch)
    Guiliermo (Italian)

    Peter (English, Dutch, German...)
    Piet (Dutch)
    Pierre (French)
    Pietro, Piero (Italian)
    Pedro (Spanish)



    There is no way to translate them in Japanese. But some names could be translated using the original meaning.

    For example, in Japanese the female name "Misao" only has 1 possible kanji and it means "virgin". The European translation would thus be "Virginia", "Virginie", etc. The only problem is that most Japanese names use different kanji for the same sound, so there would be dozens of translations of "Yuuko".

    Female names are easier as the "ko" (=child) could just be omitted, so that most of the time 1 kanji is left. I don't think anybody has taken the care to look up the root and compare all Japanese and Western names so far. If we work together on this forum, it will be quicker.

    I am waiting your propositons.

    This site will help for the roots of names from all around the world, including Japanese : http://www.behindthename.com/

    It's interesting to see that "Henry" originally means "home ruler", Frederick means "peaceful ruler", Louis/Ludwing means "famous warrior", Charles/Karl means "man", Edward means "rich guard", Richard means "brave power" or William means "desire protection".

    It is certainly possible to find kanji for all this, and hopefully that some of these kanji names will already be used in Japanese.

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  2. #2
    Kongming jeisan's Avatar
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    jason = healer

    im down to go looking up western name root meanings but i don't know japanese and cant read kanji so i dont know how much help i could be in that department.

    isn't 'hans' was the german equivilent of 'john'?
    Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.

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  3. #3
    Regular Member Erik's Avatar
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    http://www.babynames.com/V5/index.php

    Not too many JPS names in there... but should help you out.

  4. #4
    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
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    Elizabeth : _”T–ñ‘©A_–ìé¾@|@purely denotative

    @ Œb—ìÀ•Ó‘hA‰b—À–ÀŽç@|@combination denotative & phonetic

  5. #5
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Originally posted by jeisan

    isn't 'hans' was the german equivilent of 'john'?
    John comes from Latin Johannes. In German (and Scandinavic countries) 3 forms exist : Johannes, Hans or Jan.

  6. #6
    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Maciamo
    John comes from Latin Johannes. In German (and Scandinavic countries) 3 forms exist : Johannes, Hans or Jan.
    Doesn't it actually come from the Hebrew J/Y/ohanan EJ/Y/ochanan?

  7. #7
    free spirit lineartube's Avatar
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    In Portuguese, John is João, Willian is Guilherme and Peter is the same as in Spanish: Pedro.

    This reminds me of an experience I had when I was about 6-7 years old and I started learning English and the students were supposed to present themselves in that language, and I decided to present myself as Louis, which is the English conterpart to my Portuguese name, Luis. My teacher corrected me right there on the spot saying that names shouldn't be translated.
    But this isn't only about names of people because in Portuguese like many other languages there are also versions of cities names, for instance. Mokba (Russian) - Moskow (English) - Moscovo (Portuguese) or the inverse Lisboa (Portuguese) - Lisbon (English) - Lissabon (German). Nowadays, there aren't any translations of cities names. At least not that I am aware of.
    Ln.

  8. #8
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Every sizeable and sufficiently famous European city has a translation in several European languages. The most different might be attributed to Rome (especially when you see Eastern European translations !). Sometimes city names are translated by meaning rather than sound. The Northern French city "Lille" is called "Rijzel" in Dutch for old Dutch "der ijzel" (the island), which is the literal translation of "l'ile" in French. That's common in language border regions. In Belgium, "Mons" in French becomes "Bergen" in Dutch (which bouth mean "mount" in English), while "Liege" becomes "Luettich" in German, and "Luik" in Dutch. Cross th border and the German city "Aachen" becomes "Aix-la Chapelle" in French, or "Aken" in Dutch. "Koeln" in German is "Cologne" in French and English, and "Colonia" in Italian.
    Italian cities are good for the variety as well. "Florence" is English or French for "Firenze" in Italian, while "Naples" is also English and French (different pronunciation of course) for "Napoli".

    Saint names for churches/cathedrals are always translated in guide books or tourist brochures. I think people should also translate their name when they change language (among European languages) when it is possible. I've always done it and found it was much easier for locals to remember and pronounce my name too.

  9. #9
    =Danieru= KickAss_Danieru's Avatar
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    uh huh...
    DANIEL m
    Usage: English, Jewish, French, German, Scandinavian, Polish, Czech, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Biblical
    Pronounced: DAN-yul (English), dan-YEL (French)
    From the Hebrew name Daniyel meaning "God is my judge". Daniel was a Hebrew prophet whose story is told in the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament. He lived during the Jewish captivity in Babylon, where he served in the court of the king, rising to prominence by interpreting the king's dreams. The book also presents Daniel's four visions of the end of the world. Famous bearers of this name include English author Daniel Defoe, Swiss mathematician Daniel Bernoulli, and American frontiersman Daniel Boone.

    dont think that would be able to be put into kanji.. lol
    o well.. :/ (im not christian, yet my name is) lol
    じゃまた、ダニエル

  10. #10
    Regular Member tha_rippa1be's Avatar
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    JEROME m
    Usage: English
    Pronounced: je-ROM
    From the Greek name Hieronymos meaning "sacred name". Saint Jerome was responsible for the creation of the Vulgate, the Latin translation of the Bible, in the 5th century.

    so i think: jeroen --> je ro me
    what is the hirangana letter for je? -if there is any.
    i've got the other two: ‚ë‚ß

    - so this is better rock lee? ƒƒ
    still don't know the je though

  11. #11
    Hullu RockLee's Avatar
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    Foreign names often are translated into Japanese pronounciation like this using KATAKANA

    David = Deibitto = ƒfƒCƒrƒbƒg
    ~ Parempi hullu kuin tylsä - Better crazy than boring ~
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  12. #12
    Regular Member tha_rippa1be's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RockLee
    Foreign names often are translated into Japanese pronounciation like this using KATAKANA

    David = Deibitto = ƒfƒCƒrƒbƒg
    i read this in romaji: de i bi to
    where did the extra t come from? the ƒb(shi?) sign?

  13. #13
    Manga Psychic PaulTB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tha_rippa1be
    i read this in romaji: de i bi to
    where did the extra t come from? the ƒb(shi?) sign?
    Go read
    http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/jwriting.html
    in particular

    "there is a type of double-consonant, which is written using a small "tsu" symbol before a syllable. For example, Jack would be JAKKU (ƒWƒƒƒbƒN). Note the ƒb, which is a small version of ƒc. "

  14. #14
    Regular Member bossel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    John comes from Latin Johannes. In German (and Scandinavic countries) 3 forms exist : Johannes, Hans or Jan.
    There are even more varieties in German: Hannes, Johann, Henning, Jens. I think, at least the last 2 are also used in Scandinavia.
    This variation in Germany is probably due to regional varieties:eg. if your name is Joseph, here in the Rhineland you may be called Jupp, in Bavaria they call you Sepp. Formerly that was only the difference in pronunciation, but then these pronunciations became names themselves.

    I wouldn't really propose to always adapt your name to the language of your host country. Maybe I would do that in the case of Japan or China, because they would have problems with its pronunciation, but for most of Europe there would be no need to do so.

    Actually, it might even be necessary to find a local name yourself, if you're in Japan or China. Else, everybody you come across would write your name as they go along. You'd end up with a dozen different transcriptions (IE names) & nobody knows who is meant.

  15. #15
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bossel
    Actually, it might even be necessary to find a local name yourself, if you're in Japan or China. Else, everybody you come across would write your name as they go along. You'd end up with a dozen different transcriptions (IE names) & nobody knows who is meant.
    Why not. Chinese (from China) normally take on English first names when working for English-speaking (or Western) companies. Singaporian and HongKonger usually have English first names too, but in that case it is their real name (while in China, a second completely different one).

  16. #16
    Regular Member bossel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Why not. Chinese (from China) normally take on English first names when working for English-speaking (or Western) companies. Singaporian and HongKonger usually have English first names too, but in that case it is their real name (while in China, a second completely different one).
    I know many more Chinese than Japanese & I noticed that it is kind of fashionable for youngsters there to find themselves English (or at least Western) aliases. From all the Chinese I know (below the age of 30) only 1 doesn't have an English name.

    Personally, I find it a bit sad, since many Chinese names sound much nicer or at least more interesting than common Western names. Well, then again, esp. Chinese girls seem to get some fashionable Chinese names, which makes it boring again. Names with -ing are all over the place, it seems. Together with the very limited amount of Chinese surnames (only some 300-500, I think) this might cause some confusion. I alone know several girls called Ying, 2 of them even with the same surname.

    The surname problem doesn't seem to exist in Japan, I think. I read something of up to 300,000 surnames. When it comes to 1st names, I noticed some trendy names, though.

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