Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fun with Transliteration

One of the things I like most about studying Japanese is that there is a significant role being played by transliterated words from other languages, particularly English. And because there is a whole alphabet devoted to these words (katakana, the more stark and angular of the three character sets) it's easy to pick these words out. However, there can be subtle distinctions between words, particularly when vowels are lengthened. For example, when reviewing a little bit this morning, I came upon, ハロウィーン [+ party]: ha-ro-wi-i-n. I'm pretty sure, in retrospect, that it's "Halloween", but I can't swear it's not "heroin".

1 comment:

  1. Reader kirinn (who's still having trouble commenting here -- damn you OpenID!!!) says,
    Ha, yes, the lengthened 'i' makes it certainly Halloween. But yeah, this sort of thing comes up all the time in video games - it led to lots of hilarity in earlier eras when the teams localizing Japanese games into English were just not very experienced at "back-porting" various kana spellings. You get things like FF Tactics' "Dragon Bracelet" attacks... which were originally Dragon "bu-re-su". Presumably intending "Breath", not "Brace".