On Japanese name orders

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On Japanese name orders

#1 Post by Coren » Sun Jun 02, 2013 7:22 am

This is something I've been thinking of for a while now. When you have a bunch of characters who aren't Japanese, and then there's a Japanese character, what order should their name be in?

Should it be the traditional Japanese way of (Surname)(First Name)? Or the Westernized way of (First Name)(Surname)?

I'm asking this because the "right" order of Japanese names is the former, but then for some reason the latter is usually employed in EVNs and anime nowadays. Yet, for some reason, when there are Chinese characters they usually stick to their traditional way of (Surname)(First Name), even though the Japanese and Chinese obey the same name order. But why do Westernizers only swap around the Japanese ones?

All in all, what order do you think Japanese and Chinese names should be put in?

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Re: On Japanese name orders

#2 Post by pwisaguacate » Sun Jun 02, 2013 7:42 am

In a predominantly Western environment, I don't think it would be too strange for Japanese to be referred to by the "Western way". Probably among themselves they refer to each other by the traditional Eastern way.

Wiki section on name order and lexical order: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_name#Name_order

"Japanese names of contemporary individuals and Hungarian names are usually 'switched' when individuals who have such names are mentioned in media in Western countries; for example, Koizumi Jun'ichirō is known as Junichiro Koizumi in English, and Puskás Ferenc is known as Ferenc Puskás."

On a note, I could have sworn I thought I saw "Miku Hatsune" being used years ago, but I guess people caught on and defaulted to the "correct" way.

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Re: On Japanese name orders

#3 Post by Coren » Sun Jun 02, 2013 8:17 am

pwisaguacate wrote:In a predominantly Western environment, I don't think it would be too strange for Japanese to be referred to by the "Western way". Probably among themselves they refer to each other by the traditional Eastern way.

Wiki section on name order and lexical order: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_name#Name_order

"Japanese names of contemporary individuals and Hungarian names are usually 'switched' when individuals who have such names are mentioned in media in Western countries; for example, Koizumi Jun'ichirō is known as Junichiro Koizumi in English, and Puskás Ferenc is known as Ferenc Puskás."

On a note, I could have sworn I thought I saw "Miku Hatsune" being used years ago, but I guess people caught on and defaulted to the "correct" way.
Then the question is that why isn't this used for Chinese names then? Why do we see fewer cases of, say, Xiaoming Li than Shintaro Takano?

In my country, there are quite a sizeable number of Japanese people, and most of them refer to themselves the Japanese way, even though we all speak English.

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Re: On Japanese name orders

#4 Post by Taleweaver » Sun Jun 02, 2013 8:48 am

Then why don't we do this with Korean names? The last time I looked, it was Kim Yong-Il, not Yong-Il Kim. And as for the Chinese, I still remember Hu Jintao leading their nation, not Jintao Hu. (Jackie Chan doesn't count; he's Hongkong chinese, and they still follow the British naming tradition, seeing how long Hongkong has been under British government.) Even celebrities like Ai Weiwei are usually written last name first.

As for Japanese names, the historical ones seem to be written overwhelmingly in Asian tradition - Takeda Shingen, Oda Nobunaga, Tokugawa Ieyasu. Newer ones, however, especially those of international celebrities, seem to arrive here in reverse order - writer Haruki Murakami, director Takeshi Kitano, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. But I think that's a journalism thing and not necessarily one we of the literary trade need to take into account.

IMO, we should keep the name order of the native language we depict when writing fiction. I consider it more respectful.
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Re: On Japanese name orders

#5 Post by TrickWithAKnife » Sun Jun 02, 2013 10:01 am

The vast majority of Japanese people I meet (and I meet literally hundreds every year) introduce themselves by given name, then family name when speaking English.
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Re: On Japanese name orders

#6 Post by latte » Sun Jun 02, 2013 10:12 am

I personally find it more respectful to keep the native order no matter the language, even because I'd also always wondered why only Chinese usually has that 'privilege'.

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Re: On Japanese name orders

#7 Post by Greeny » Sun Jun 02, 2013 10:44 am

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Re: On Japanese name orders

#8 Post by PyTom » Sun Jun 02, 2013 10:44 am

I just hopped onto the website of the Embassy of Japan in the United States of America, and it seems like they consistently use <personal name> <family name> order for the names of Japanese citizens in English (Shinzo Abe). Wikipedia has the policy of using <family name> <personal name> for pre-Meiji names (Tokugawa Ieyasu), and <personal name> <family name> for post-Meiji names (Nobuo Fujita).

Randomly speculating, I wonder if this is due to the various policies of explicit westernization that have been pursued by Japan (both by the Japanese government, and the SCAP occupation) since the Meiji restoration. I'm not sure any of the other east Asian countries have had a similar experience, especially one where the government was backing the experience.

I often speculate if this westernization is the reason why Anime/Manga is at least somewhat popular here. While not 100% the case, a lot of what I see in Anime movies is reasonably applicable here. While some stories give a sense of the exotic, most seem to fit well with life experience, more or less.
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Re: On Japanese name orders

#9 Post by TrickWithAKnife » Sun Jun 02, 2013 10:53 am

A fair number of Japanese people told me that they use the given name then family name when speaking to Westerners because it will be easier for us to understand.

Perhaps it's different if they are actually speaking Japanese, but I haven't really encountered that enough.
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Re: On Japanese name orders

#10 Post by Coren » Sun Jun 02, 2013 11:51 am

Japanese order is still (Family Name)(Given Name) in Japan, and probably won't change because that's their culture and they don't want it to be eroded.

I personally don't understand why the Japanese have their names switched over in journalism and Western literature though, while keeping Chinese and Japanese names intact. Even Touhou's English translation had all the Japanese characters (other than the clearly Meiji-era Fujiwara no Mokou) with (First Name)(Given Name), e.g. Marisa Kirisame and not Kirisame Marisa, but with the Chinese girl Hong Meiling keep her normal order.

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Re: On Japanese name orders

#11 Post by TrickWithAKnife » Sun Jun 02, 2013 12:10 pm

Depends which language they are speaking. If you went to Japan and introduced yourself in Japanese, you'd almost definitely use your family name first.

EVNs tend to do it the same way Japanese people do when they speak English.
If I see a Japanese character speaking English and giving their surname first, I would presume the creators know a little about Japan, but that's all.
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Re: On Japanese name orders

#12 Post by nyaatrap » Sun Jun 02, 2013 12:11 pm

Compulsory education forced to use reverse order name in English. Teachers teach when student use natural order in English, it's wrong.. So many Japanese believe it's part of English grammar. Using natural order is breaking its rule.

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Re: On Japanese name orders

#13 Post by SHiNKiROU » Sun Jun 02, 2013 6:54 pm

The inconsistency between Jackie Chan and Hu Jintao happens because Jackie Chan is popular to western people who don't know about Chinese, while people who read about Hu Jintao know about China.

An example from my friend. Her Chinese name translates to "official first", only if read in the eastern order, and the family name plus the first character of the given name coincides into "official".

In fiction, name order depends on the culture the work is made. I think there are no eastern ordered Chinese and Japanese names in Mass Effect (I think ME respects alien name order only if their naming convention is beyond two part names).

In my fictional universes, I don't try to reconcile the inconsistency, instead, translation convention or in-universe justification keeps the native name order intact, for humans and aliens alike. Also, Chinese people don't get an English first name for in-universe reasons. I have the freedom to do it in speculative fiction, and I don't want to keep track of the conventions of multiple speakers in multiple languages.

Now let's talk about romanization of Chinese and Japanese names.
If I see a Japanese character speaking English and giving their surname first, I would presume the creators know a little about Japan, but that's all.
I learned to use western order for Chinese names from English teachers in China.

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_n ... _languages

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Re: On Japanese name orders

#14 Post by Taleweaver » Mon Jun 03, 2013 3:11 am

SHiNKiROU wrote:The inconsistency between Jackie Chan and Hu Jintao happens because Jackie Chan is popular to western people who don't know about Chinese, while people who read about Hu Jintao know about China.
Also, I read that quite a few young Chinese choose to adopt a Western surname so that Westerners will have it easier to interact with them and are not put off by the fact that they cannot properly pronounce their potential business partner's name. (This rings especially true for the US, where businesspeople usually address themselves by their first names - unlike Germany, for example, where business is conducted by calling one another "Herr Lastname" or "Frau Lastname", which is nothing else than "Mr." and "Ms.") Of course, if you choose to take a Western first name, you would probably also follow Western conventions about which name to put first.
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Re: On Japanese name orders

#15 Post by agepoyo » Mon Jun 03, 2013 9:27 am

What nyaatrap said is absolutely right. I told to use the order of (First Name)(Surname), in my early English class. So every Japanese unconsciously write their name in English in westernized way, while we use traditional Japanese way of (Surname)(First Name) in daily use.

I think representing name of Japanese character in EVN as (First Name)(Surname) is more natural.

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