How do they decide if it's しま, じまor とう for 島?

I want to play Animal Crossing in Japanese (I’m getting my copy soon) and I’m trying to think of a name for my island but I know that Tom Nook asks you how you want 島 in your island name to be pronounced and I have no idea what the rules are for that.

I have a list of names that I’m considering for my island but as soon as he asks me how to pronounce 島 I won’t know what to choose lol… I was wondering if anyone knows how it’s usually decided in island names if it’s going to be しま, じまor とう?

1 Like

Heh. We actually just had this conversation in another thread.

Summary of my findings in this post: とう if it’s a non-Japanese name, otherwise しま or じま according to standard rendaku rules. You can also consider including a for the fun of it.


What are the standard rendaku rules? I tried looking it up but I couldn’t make sense of it. .-. Like for example number 4… “Surrounding the first consonant of the second word are voiced vowels (and sometimes nasals).”… but all vowels are voiced?

I was thinking of naming my Island 月夜、コロコロ、伸び伸び、翠嵐、雲海…
月夜 is kunyomi reading all around, but it’s also a Chinese word (yueye), コロコロ is onomatopoeia, 伸び伸び is… an adverb. 翠嵐 is onyomi all around, and so is 雲海. So yeah I have no idea what to make of it all.

My instinct would be to think "oh well if the two kanji before 島 are kunyomi then probably 島 is kunyomi too so しま or じま "… but then I look at 奥尻島, which is all kunyomi except 島. Just doesn’t seem to make sense.

“How they decide” is an amusing way to phrase it. Language isn’t often consciously decided.

Unless you just meant, “how do people playing Animal Crossing decide” and not “how do Japanese place names get decided” I suppose.


What are the rules, if any, surrounding the pronunciation of島 in island names.

People name islands, and then they pronounce those names in a certain way. Idk how that isn’t deciding.

They (long, long ago before there was even writing in Japan) didn’t sit down and have a committee meeting about it though. That’s all I mean. There are natural ways things get rendaku’d and it comes from how the sounds are made naturally.

とう obviously entered the equation later, but again, it’s probably just more what feels right, not a conscious decision.

EDIT: Or as Belthazar points out, even if it looks like kunyomi it might not be, making とう the option.

1 Like

If you plan to call it “Yueye”, then go with とう. For つきよ I’d go with しま.



Not because it’s on’yomi, but because the first one ends with ん, and the second one… because my gut says so.

That’s not kun’yomi, that’s Ainu - it’s a “foreign” name, hence とう. Kanji were chosen that approximate the Ainu reading.


That article is the one I read, didn’t really help me understand in regards to 島 though…

And for 月夜 I’d write つきよ, just not sure if Japanese took it from Chinese or if they always had a word “つきよ” and later used Kanji to write it when Chinese writing was introduced.

That’s interesting about the Ainu thing, makes sense though since it’s in Hokkaido. Thanks.

Ah, right. Some vowels are unvoiced, like the U in です, for example.

If it’s kun’yomi, then it’s a native Japanese word that pre-dates kanji. That’s basically what kun’yomi is.

1 Like

Alright, well that makes sense. :stuck_out_tongue:

This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.