How do you handles people's names?

I just read this article on Famitsu and I thought: Why is this so hard? Oh, it’s a list of people’s names.

Do you look up the pronounciation? Guess it? Just move on?


Family names are fairly predictable - it’s kun’yomi, about 90% of the time. Most of the remainder will be a mixture of kun’yomi and nanori, with a bare handful being on’yomi (and those almost invariably have 藤 as the second character - certainly all of the most common on’yomi family names do). You get a feel for it after a while - for example, I’m pretty confident I can read the family names here - 久保田 = くぼた, 菊田 = きくた, 北風 = きたかぜ, 水谷 = みずたに.

For given names… yeah, you’ll need to look them up, as the readings can be all over the shop. Or if you’re actually meeting the person (rather than just reading about them), you can ask how to pronounce it. Even native speakers frequently need to ask.


And then there’s 小鳥遊.


I have an Anki deck with proper nouns and I do one each day


One of my hobbies is, when I’m watching anime, I like to pause at the voice acting credits screen and then try to guess the readings of the names. Afterwards I try to look them up in MyAnimeList to see if they match my predictions or not. I’ve learned a lot of names doing this, but it does take time if all you want is to relax and watch some anime.


I don’t put a concerted effort into learning names anymore. Fortunately, location names and surnames aren’t that bad. But personal names, it just drives me insane with the multiple readings. If I care enough, I’ll look up the name to see how it’s pronounced. I don’t bother committing it to memory.

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