English names with 「V」

So with the existence of「ヴ」 wouldn’t a name like Victoria 「ビクトリア」by more accurately expressed as something like 「ヴィトリア」? I was wondering about names with “V” while I was doing some writing practice and so I looked up some on two name generators and they both use 「ビ」 instead of 「ヴィ」

Is this just an example of some convention used before the creation of 「ヴ」persisting into the present? ヴィトリア is arguably more phonetically accurate than ビクトリア. What do we all think?

They use ビ because it’s easier for them to pronounce than ヴ iirc.

If I recall correctly from what I learned from classroom teacher (and seems to be confirmed here) history is the main reason. The ヴ kana was only recognized very recently (end of last century) hence, most of the ‘old’ terms are still using ビ (the old reading) instead… But if you look into more recent loan words that have been imported to Japan like ヴィーガン (vegan) or if your into CS for words like ヴィム (godfather of all editor, hope there’s no Emac people here) they tend to use ヴ more now.


In these cases, I prefer to go for the (more) phonetically accurate version. As for Victoria, since I’m Spanish I would expressed it like「ビクトリア」because in Spanish there’s no difference on how “B” and “V” is articulated; both sound like a “B”. But for English, I would expressed it like「ヴィトリア」because it’s more accurate.

Actually, I like a lot to use “new kana” specially in foreign names but those very common words written according to some old convention before the existence of “new kana” I keep writing them like that. For example, 「チーム」instead of 「ティーム」because I rarely see 「ティーム」. As for “violin” I encounter「ヴァイオリン」as much as 「バイオリン」but I write「ヴァイオリン」because I like it more.

Maybe, I pretend to be as accurate as possible for foreign names (names and surnames) unless they’re very well-known names that have been written in some specific way for centuries (countries or capitals overseas, &c). But I try to adapt to popular conventions for other nouns or try to think these foreign words adopted by Japanese are no longer foreign and I remove the accuracy thing out of the equation.


I was going to say something similar to what @jasonlint brought up. It’s a bit like how りるろられ are used for bith l & r sounds, because–similar to Spanish “r”–in Japanese the “r” sound is actually an alveolar tap (which is why you get the trilled “r” in both Spanish and [to a lesser extent] in Japanese). So this sound English-speakers hear as “r” is percieved as the same or pretty close to our own r/l sounds by native Japanese speakers.

The same with “V”–in Spanish (and Japanese) “b” and “v” are represented by the same sound. just that, while Spanish differentiates between “v” and “b” in spelling but not in speech, Japanese spelling and speech only represent this sound with びばぼばべぶ.

Actually, after thinking through all of that, I think it makes about as much sense to use ヴ in Japanese as it does to use V in Spanish. Like, it’s there, but it’ll still be pronounced as “b,” right? (That “right?” isn’t rhetorical btw–I’m no expert, obviously.)

…Does this make sense, or is it just a rambly word-pile?

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I have a V last name of Spanish origin, and even though I use the V sound when I say it, I’m okay with b in Japanese.

My name is written out as ベト. Take it as you will.

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This is a fiction example, but in the Japanese version of Wreck-It Ralph, Vanellope’s name is presented as ヴァネロペ as opposed to バネロペ… though weirdly enough, there’s an American product that has Japanese text that includes the latter.

This is completely anecdotal and in no way a strong answer, but I’ve heard the phrase DVD be pronounced by a Japanese person with what was at least an attempt to make it sound more like an English “v” (rather than “b”). That might just be a thing that specific guy was doing, though, particularly since Japanese Wikipedia has the pronunciation of the “v” in that as ブイ (as opposed to the ヴィ/ヴイ (if ヴ implies a separate “v” sound) this guy was doing).

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Don’t know where you’re from and how old but in Spanish there used to be a difference. I got told off at school for years for not pronouncing V correctly. I guess they might’ve given up now, if the language has shifted.

@Carevader, I don’t know. Well, if I recall my Latin lessons at high school I can tell that “V” in Classical Latin is read as “U”, but for some (random?) reasons “V” in Ecclesiastical Latin it’s read as “V” in English. It’s very probably that there was a time when “V” in Spanish was like “V” in English… my 100 years old grandma pronounces “V” and “B” the same way. A similar phenomenon in Spanish happened with “LL” which is now pronounced as “Y” but in Catalonia, where I’m from, we still use the sound for “LL” for Catalan although it’s currently lost in Spanish.

@Caracal, you explanation was amazing, by the way. :slight_smile:

I had the same teacher for both part of primary school and a couple years of high school, and she did both the V/B difference and the Y/LL one, though mostly insisted on the V/B. I’m pretty sure they gave up on trying to make me pronounce them differently :stuck_out_tongue:
Asked a few other people also from Spain and two had the same experience as me, two didn’t…so I guess it really might’ve been down to whatever those teachers were taught to begin with,and/or the region (this was like ~20-24 years ago).

Oh! Your experience with this teacher is really strange! Currently, I’m quite sure those differences in pronunciation for B/V and Y/LL in Spanish are pretty old. Almost 10 years ago when I was studying phonetics on my first and second year in the university we didn’t found any nowadays Spanish speakers articulating B/V and Y/LL differently. We had to do some practice at the acoustics lab and compare results obtained from acoustics to the current standard IPA transcription for Spanish. Ah! The only example of [v] wasn’t perceived or even understood by speakers but in Spanish is considered an allophone and occurs in words like these: A f ganistán, Da f ne, &c.

I think that it’s probably that some very old books out there about Spanish Phonology still explain some difference. If I try to imagine some guy speaking standard Spanish (for example, the news guy on TV) and pronouncing V as in English and LL as in Catalan it would sound really weird.

Also, the whole thing about writing our very own foreign names with Katakana is super funny. There’s some space for freestyle here that I love lots. It makes me feel like when I was having fun learning Tengwar and writing in a more suitable or natural way according to how a word sounds.

As for Katakana concerning Spanish words, it’s a pleasure because Spanish sounds are very easy to represent or adapt or simply fit with Katakana. But most of the time I struggle to read and guess English and German loan words written in Katakana… Sorry about the following statement but I feel like many English words go wrong when written in Katakana while some others go very wrong. :sweat_smile: :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

It seems there’s more to be said about the “V” sound in Spanish than in Japanese.:smile:

that’s no lie, i feel like a child trying to sound out a lot of katakana english words. sometimes even saying them a couple times before it dawns on me what i’m even saying.


As someone with a V-name (Victoria) I often see it being written now as ヴィクトリア by Japanese people, however when I started studying Japanese about a dozen years ago, my teacher wrote it as ビクトリア so I’ve kept it as that. I’ll actually have to correct people on the spelling. One of the other reasons I keep it (beside…that that is how I spell my name and it’s my name goddmnt!..) is because I think it is still easier/more natural for Japanese speakers to pronounce.


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