Confusions
  • I know that there are different readings for Kanjis.. So What about if it's a name? How do Japanese people know that this kanji name reads like this if he doesn't know who the person is? Like in the case of important papers like renewing some documents?
  • Most Japanese forms will have a space for the name reading. Something like this:
    http://dental-city-2.up.seesaa.net/image/rirekisho2.gif

    Otherwise, unless the person is famous enough to have their own wiki page, you would just ask.

    For the most common family names, there is usually a standard reading (although some have more than one reading, e.g. 中島 could be なかしま or なかじま - sometimes one reading is more common in certain parts of the country). First names are trickier since there's more freedom - you can literally have any reading you like.
  • To add to the above, sometimes it may not be important how to pronounce it, eg on somebody's personal blog chances are high you will never meet the named person, or some short shory-story. Kanji already flesh out the intended meaning (especially for fictional characters). It's a bit like 白雲 (はくうん or しらくも).
  • Thanks for the help guys, but how about for those legal documents? Do they place furiganas? In a case of translation, do translators really need to ask for the pronunciation of a name? Or there is a way of knowing what does the kanji name reads? Thanks!
  • Some readings are more common, so translators may guess. But when possible, they should ask the author. Bad translations use wrong names, eg Miwa for 美羽, when it should be read Miu (Ar Tonelio 2).
    When presented with a kanji name without any context whatsoever, there's often no way too be certain how it is read.

    I suppose their kanji name will often be used in legal documents. But when the reading is required, as Jenlit said, the company/office in question has that inormation available.
  • It's hussle in the part of the translator I believe... Anyways, I wonder how they choose characters for their newborn names.. Could just Japanese use any kanji characters for there names? Or is there a specific kanji for each name? For eg. 山本 Yamamoto, and instead of using this kanji, they would use 山元?Just curious though...
  • As for given names, parents are free to give their children any name and reading they like, as long as the kanji are jouyou or jinmeiyou, and not completely outrageous, such as 癌(cancer).

    There are trends, but no hard rules, it is an act of creativity.

    They are guided by their creativity, language instinct (sounds good etc.) and their dreams and hopes for the newborn, actually, just like name-giving works in English or (I assume) many other countries.

    Some opinions on what not to use in a name here (click), a list of shame can be found here (click) (keep in mind that undoubtedly some aren't real names). Eg 金星, read as maazu (=Mars) (I kind of doubt it's real, though...), or 萌羅等南 read as morarana (「この当て字はひどい・・・」)
  • Oh it's kind of complicated enough for me that I couldn't comprehend some of it.. Thanks for explaining though.. This is all new to me, and I guess I have to study kanji more before I could comprehend lessons such as this one.. xD
  • There was a genuine story about parents who wanted to name their kid 悪魔, which would technically be within the rules, but the authorities refused to allow it. (Eventually a similar sounding name using different kanji was permitted).
  • >金星, read as maazu (=Mars)

    Shouldn't that be ビーナス?

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