Rule for la and ra?


I’d like to know if there is a rule to know if the Rōmaji form of ラ should be translated to ra or la
and the same for ru, ro etc.
For example:

One Piece:
ルフィ in my country translated to Ruffy
シーザークラウン in my country translated to Caesar Crown

To Love-Ru:
ララ in my country translated to Lala

I there some kind of rule or how does it work?
In my opinion Lala sound a lot better than Rara, but I have no idea why they changed Luffy (as it sounds) to Ruffy.
By the way I’m not from an english speaking country so Ruffy is not easier to pronounce for most of the people here. That shouldn’t be the reason.

Any ideas?

When they’re in katakana, they’re usually foreign loanwords that are already spelt with either R or L (hence “Ceasar Crown”… unless it’s Ceasar Clown?).

When you’re talking fictional characters, quite often these days the author will specify. When they don’t, the internet either decides by concensus or schisms into warring factions.


If there was such a rule, it wouldn’t be a rule about the Japanese language.


I believe you mean by that, that i put it into the wrong section of the forum? :smiley:

I think rules depend on the person who created that specific romanisation system. It’s pretty anarchic in my opinion.

Edit: Romaji is a difficult topic to discuss here.

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This ^^ :slight_smile:

If you look at Final Fantasy 7 there is エアリス, and I’m still not sure if it is supposed to be Aeris or Aerith or Eris or Alice or Ellis or something.

In the end I think Japanese don’t really care about it, there is a section labeled “Daily Products” in my local supermarket, I’m pretty sure they wanted to put “Dairy Products.”


Almost all formal (all?) romaji schemes use only ra ri ru re ro. Any use of L is purely stylistic, like the Japanese actor リリー・フランキー who styles his name “Lily Franky” in romaji, but as Wikipedia points out, would normally be written as rirī furankī in romaji. Certainly whether it’s written with L or R wouldn’t affect the way the name is pronounced in Japanese.

Well, I guess that too.

But my point was that it’s not something universal to people who study Japanese, just speakers of particular languages transliterating from Japanese.

Japanese don’t generally distinguish between la and ra, it sounds the same to them.


Business idea: shoot a cheap film using unknown actors titled Ra Ra Rando and market it in Japan as starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.

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I’ve been wondering the same thing! Great topic.

One Piece could have easily been Wan-Piece. A story about part of a dog.
I’ve seen translations of Caesar Clown. Because it feels better that way.
Then there are people with names like 湖子 using Coco/Koko and Rui/Louie.
There was trouble with Attack on Titan’s Levi(confirmed Levi) and Rivaille depending on the root of the character.
I think To Love-Ru sounds more like katanaka “troubleトラブル” so they stuck with that.

I think it really just depends on similar words already out there and just match with it.

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