Help regarding how Japanese names can and cannot be formed (in the name of literature)

Hey guys,
So I’m sitting here, sitting around at work, pondering which western given names of my favorite authors do and do not have a proper phonetic (that is, sound-based) Japanese equivalent…

Anyway, as I was going through this, I was able to immediately throw out a number of them, like Robert (Frost), which doesn’t work well with the Japanese syllabary… but I found a few that do. My favorite so far is: Søren (Kierkegaard). Now, I’m scrambling to try to find or create a Japanese given name pronounced as “それん” or “そうれん” Unfortunately, I have no knowledge whatsoever how proper Japanese given names are formed.

I’m under the impression that Japanese given names can be composed of just about any Joyo characters, but I don’t really understand the process beyond that…

I did some searching on Jisho and found the vocab word 操練 (そうれん), which means “military drill/training” exists.

Could/would a Japanese parent name their newborn boy with these characters and pronunciation? If not, are there any kanji combinations which would offer a proper Japanese male name with the pronunciation “そうれん?”

Any help would be appreciated.

That Kid Sitting in the Alder

Well Kierkegaard’s first name is not pronounced そうれん in Danish so it wouldn’t be transliterated like that in hiragana or katakana.

Not sure I really understand what (or why) you’re trying to do though


Jisho also includes a Japanese name dictionary that includes anything that remotely resembles a name, if it’s not there, the name will very likely sound strange.

My impression is that first names mainly use kunyomi, so 操練 is out (it’s pronounced different anyway?).

[if you want to see how the names end up in kana you should check Wikipediaセーレン・キェルケゴール]

It’s probably possible to name a child Souren anyway, and the choice of kanji is quite free. You can actually largely define how the name is supposed to be read, which is why you have to state your name often in both kanji and kana in Japan.


I was going for a more Anglicized feel, you know?

You’re writing a Danish given name with an Anglicised feel with the hopes that it sounds like a Japanese given name?

… I don’t even know where to start with that one.


I didn’t say it was a worthy effort. :joy:

Just something that seemed like fun.

This is super helpful and should keep me busy for quite a while. I thank you greatly.

A while ago I was looking for information about creating Japanese names and found these websites helpful:

Essay in English about choosing a name

Japanese site for checking luck of number of strokes

enter hiragana reading and get kanji to choose from

enter kanji and see different readings

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The fact that Japanese use a mixture of 3 writing systems does make the learning curve steep. But once you can read katakana, I imagine it’s a lot easier for learners to read セーレン・キェルケゴール in Japanese than 索倫·克爾凱郭爾 in Chinese. Which is why I’m thankful that Japanese has katakana.

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