Wiktionary:Japanese transliteration

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These are the rules concerning transliteration in Japanese entries.

Transliteration of the Japanese Language[edit]

The basis for the Wiki-romanization of Japanese is the Hepburn system [1]. In Japanese, the term for romanized Japanese text is romaji or ローマ字 (rōmaji, literally Roman letters). Pretty much anyone seeking to look up Japanese terms, even a beginning Japanese-language student, will know this term, so it is safe to use it in contexts specific to the Japanese language.

Other than the rules elaborated below, all Japanese text should follow the hiragana/katakana->romaji mapping in the Hepburn romanization charts on Wikipedia (note, this does not include the rules qualifying those charts that are also listed above in the same article). Draft Note: Wiktionary employs some modifications to Hepburn that are not included in Wikipedia, particularly with regard to the use of ⟨ī⟩ to romanize /iː/ (the long "i" sound).

There are two sets of rules qualifying these charts. The first is the "strict" set, to be followed in article titles and the like for maximum consistency, and the second is the "relaxed" set, which can be used in running text for improved readability.

Strict rules[edit]

  • Every word in Japanese is to be expressed as a single romanized "word", with no spaces or hyphens.
    A word, in this context, is a single sentence component. This does not include compound nouns or particles ( (じょ) () (joshi)), which are treated separately. Conjugated forms are counted as a single word, whereas verbs consisting of する (suru) affixed to a noun treat the する separately. The following illustrates some examples, with appropriate romanization in parentheses:
  • Each word should be separated from other words by spaces.
    • 僕は純苔です (boku wa juntai desu)
    • サチより日本語が上手だ (Sachi yori Nihongo ga jōzu da)
  • The letter , when used as a particle and pronounced "wah", should be transliterated as wa instead of ha.
    • 上手じゃない (boku wa jōzu ja nai), exception: 初めまして (hajimashite)
  • The letter , when used as a particle and pronounced "oh", should be transliterated as o instead of wo.
    When used in proper nouns, including person and place names, it should be transliterated as o unless it is customary to transliterate that person's or place's name as wo.
  • The letter , when used as a particle and pronounced "eh", should be transliterated as e instead of he.
    • 日本へ行きたい (Nihon e ikitai), exception: へんたい (hentai)
  • The letter , when followed in the same word by a vowel (, , , , or ) or a "y" mora (, , ), should be transliterated as n' instead of just n.
    • 近縁 (きんえん, kin'en), exceptions: 近年 (きんねん, kinnen) and 記念 (きねん, kinen)
    • 金融 (きんゆう, kin'yū), as opposed to 記入 (きにゅう, kinyū)
  • Any symbol followed by ー (the chōonpu) indicates that the vowel is long and it is transliterated by using the vowel with a macron over it (ā, ē, ī, ō, ū).
    • らーめん (rāmen), ビー玉 (ビーだま, bīdama), スーツ (sūtsu), ケーキ (kēki), オーケストラ (ōkesutora).
  • Any syllable ending in the お (o) sound that is followed by う in the same word should be considered a "long お" and transliterated as ō.
    • Exceptions: If the う is the final syllable in a verb, and thus transformed to another syllable as a result of conjugation, then it should be written separately. If the お-sound is part of the honorific prefix お- or ご-, then it is written separately.
    • 交差点 (こうさてん, kōsaten) and ありがとう (arigatō), exceptions: 誘う (さそう, sasou) and 大海 (おおうみ, ōumi).
  • ああ (aa), いい (ii), うう (uu), ええ (ee) and おお (oo) combinations are considered long vowel forms and are transliterated as ā, ī, ū, ē and ō respectively.
    • Exception: If there is a morpheme boundary, then both vowels should be written.
    • お母さん (おかあさん, okāsan), らーめん (rāmen), and 逆上がり (さかあがり, sakaagari).
    • 姉さん (ねえさん, nēsan), exceptions: 濡れ縁 (ぬれえん, nureen) and ケーキ (kēki).
    • 新潟 (にいがた, Nīgata), ビー玉 (ビーだま, bīdama), and 言い (ii).
    • 大騒ぎ (おおさわぎ, ōsawagi), exceptions: 呉音 (ごおん, goon) and 女王 (じょおう, joō).
    • 十 (じゅう, ), exceptions: 食う (くう, kuu) and 風雲 (ふううん, fūun).
  • っ (the sokuon, a.k.a. little tsu) should be transliterated as a doubling of the initial consonant of the following letter. If there is no following letter, then it is transliterated as an apostrophe (write ' to escape from markups).
    • Exception: If the sokuon precedes the chi kana (ち/チ), do not use "cchi" and instead use "tchi". If before the shi kana (し/シ), use "sshi".
    • 喫茶店 (きっさてん, kissaten), って (tte), あっ (a')
  • Japanese punctuation can be romanized with the closest equivalent English punctuation: . for 。; , for 、; " for 「 or 」; etc.
    • 行きましょうか。 Ikimashō ka.
    • 料理して、食べた。 Ryōri shite, tabeta.

Relaxed rules[edit]