Hey everybody! First time here, just wanted to ask about a thing I was wondering when it comes to pronouncing foreign names in Japanese

Hello! I’ve been having lots of fun on WK so far and it’s the first app I have ever used on kanji learning!

In fact this is my first experience in learning any kanji at all, I started by reading the tofugu ‘learn japanese full guide’ or something like that and got hooked. First I thought I could never remember any of them but I was determined. I bought couple of books and pens (and a pocket brush) on hiragana and katakana writing just after I learned them on tofugu, loved it and so of course I came here for the kanji as well.

It’s been great so far but not all of the mnemonics are sticking that well since I’m not a native english speaker I guess. Most of them are very good though, and sometimes even funny which makes them a lot easier to remember. So what I have done is that I have been drawing all the kanji I’ve learned so far with the brush on sticky notes with readings in the back so I can quiz them myself. I think that has helped as well and it’s a very fun exercise. I love to see the pile grow weekly too!

So anyway I have this question about foreign pronunciation since here we have a lot of names that have a “J” in them and it’s pronounced more like や, ゆ, よ, but since it’s written with a “J” I wonder whether someone from Japan would more likely pronounce them with a じ like じゅ etc,

So if anyone wants to say hi or got any examples or info on this or anything I’d love to hear!

That’s all thanks!

PS. I also might want some help on haiku since I’ve been handwriting a bit so If you got a good guide about it I’d give it a read definitely!


As far as I have experienced, pronunciation of foreign names basically only follows the real pronunciation (not always exactly of course, but they try their best :sweat_smile:) and not the writing.
If you give us some hints where your “here” might be :wink: and some example names, we can surely come up with some typical Japanese pronunciations and Katakana spellings of the names.




On products at least (such as CD’s or DVD’s), you may see the name written in both Japanese and non-Japanese lettering:


(Note: This is a random image search result. I don’t know who this guy is, and I don’t own his training DVD.)


This particular cover also seems to answer @Kurppa’s question - Janne [yanne] is written as ヤンネ, following the pronunciation rather than spelling.


Wow that was fast! Thanks yeah that does answer the question. That was the correct country as well (Finland) many names start with “J” so stick with the pronunciation and go with the yas and yos! :blush:

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This. I have one of the most common sounding surnames, but it’s spelled differently than usual. Despite the different spelling, it’s still pronounced the same. So in Japanese, it becomes スミス. Because that’s the closest to the actual pronunciation, even though that isn’t how it’s spelled.

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Here’s an example… There’s a character in the Legend of Heroes series whose name is Juna (that is the canonical romanized/English spelling in the translation as well as in the original material) but it’s written ユウナ in katakana and pronounced “yuuna.” As others have said, it tends to follow pronunciation and not spelling, and this works for English words as well. For example… “fire” is katakana-ized as ファイヤー “faiyaa” or ファイア “faia” because that is the closest approximate pronunciation. It doesn’t try to force a ら-line syllable in there or anything like that.


Yes I have noticed I have a very poor success rate when it comes to katakana english words and translations, I know some of them aren’t probably in english which is why I fail to understand 'em but some words are too far off for me to try and decipher without looking it up.

Like words with W’s and L’s , I think the last one I had trouble with was ビバレッジ. :smiley:

Maybe it just comes down to knowing the context or how some sounds in english are translated in katakana to get better at.

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