The Japanophone offers a phonetical transcription of thousands of first names from different languages.
These transcriptions try to stay the closest possible from the pronunciation of the first names in the language they are pronounced.
Thus, several first names that exists in several languages won't be transcribed the same way in each language. For example, "Jennifer", which
exists both in English and French, will be transcribed differently if it's pronounced by a English speaker or a French speaker.
For each first name, Japanophone gives you:
- Its pronunciation in its original language in [International Phonetic Alphabet].
(See » IPA on Wikipedia).
- All its transcriptions in Japanese characters, katakana or hiragana.
- A fidelity level for each transcription. As each pronunciation may have several transcriptions, a fidelity level tells you which one is the best.
- A transcription in letters, i.e. in Latin alphabet using the Hepburn method (usually used by Japanese people to write Japanese words in letters).
- A pronunciation in International Phonetic Alphabet of each Japanese transcription.
- An equivalent in simple English for people who doesn't know the International Phonetic Alphabet to help them pronounce the Japanese transcription.
Transcription vs translation
In this web site, we'll talk only about transcription, not about translation because first names are (should be) never translated.
A translation uses the meaning of the word. But here, we use only the pronunciation of a first name to write it in Japanese so that a Japanese reader
would pronounce something as close as possible from the original name. We don't offer translations here, neither etymology because it
is sometimes subject to controversy. Therefore, this web site offers only strictly phonetic transcriptions.
Fidelity of transcription
All the transcriptions have been written and checked by a professional translator.
It is unfortunate that many web sites don't take the time and energy to do so and offer automatically translated first names, where most of them contain errors.
If you find a different transcription in another web site, you can check if it is present in Japanophone and see the fidelity level.
You might as well ask a question in » Question/Answer.
Transcribed first names are from many different origins, mainly from English-French-German-Arabic speaking countries.
Why is there sometimes several transcriptions for one first name?
As the phonetics of the Japanese language and the other languages of this web site are very different, it happens very often that a phoneme in one first name doesn't exist in Japanese.
Then, to transcribe it, we need to choose the closest phoneme in Japanese but it is sometime ambiguous and the best choice might differ according to the translator.
In this case, we give all the possible transcriptions, with its fidelity level.
The fidelity level is the distance between the phonetics of the original first name and the phonetics of the transcription.
Should we say first the family name or the first name?
For Japanese people, in Japan, the rule is simple. They always put the family name, then the first name. For foreigners, things are more complex. It depends on the country of the foreigner.
Usually, Japanese people that deals with foreigners are used to the American system. First name first, then family name. Therefore, they tend to call foreigners by their first name, followed by SAN to say Mister or Miss.
If you do not want to be called by Mister + your first name, then you should explain which is your first name and which is your family name. However, this explanation is hard to conduct and you may end-up by being called by your last name, without SAN.
In one word, there is no simple way to deal with this.