Question about English loanwords and accents

Names are one thing; some people like in other countries enjoy the challenge of saying people’s names the way they are supposed to be pronounced. However, if there are consonant clusters that are difficult to pronounce, it can be a real challenge. I do both. When teaching, I say my name the way it’s supposed to be pronounced. When out doing other business (not work) I use my katakanaized name because it’s easier to hear.

For other words, you should try to use the katakanaized form because some people are really sensitive about pronunciation of foreign words. It’s difficult because naturally you’ll want to say it the way you normally do. There have been many times I’ve just said words the way I do in English and get a tilted head in response. So try your best say those words the Japanese way, unless you know that the listener is already familiar with English.


I always pronounce my name natively, and only go with the katakanized pronunciation when the listener needs more clarification (like when they need to fill out a form or something). I don’t think there is any real need to pronounce your name the Japanese way in most instances, unless you have a difficult name and are trying to help them along a bit (which is not an issue with either my first or last name) but my go-to would still be start how you would say it then clarify as needed.

If you use native English pronunciation to a native Japanese-speaker, they almost certainly will not understand what you are saying. Once you’re here you get pretty good at “katakana-izing” English words when needed.

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I grew up in SoCal, and same with the Spanish. I used to worry about that (Spanish and later Japanese) but think of it this way: do you think the Mexican natives are being racist to you if they say ‘meksiko’ instead of ‘mehico’? No, that’s just how it’s pronounced in English. But if you’re speaking English, stick with the English pronunciation even in Japan. Nothing sounds more ridiculous than a newscaster pronouncing foreign words ‘authentically’ while speaking English.

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