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Romaji

by Caroline Seawright

 

Many people have written to me telling me that the way I spell a name (Ryouga) is wrong. They go on to tell me that "Ryoga" is "the correct spelling" of this name.

Why, you may has, has this occurred. I have a website dedicated to a character called "Ryouga". The manga was translated into English (as was the anime, though you tend not to see his name in the anime!), and the translators (Viz Communications) have chosen to spell his name as "Ryoga".

I can only assume that all these people have only read the translated manga, and have no knowledge of Romaji, and automatically think that I just spelled it wrong because I had no idea what I was talking about!! Hrmph.

What I have to tell them is that "Ryoga" is NOT "the correct spelling". It is A correct spelling, but not THE correct spelling.

The way I spell the name is also a perfectly correct way to spell the name, too. Why? Because there are many Romaji variations. These variations are used in different places, and no one Romaji system is followed... Strange, but true.

Three of the most popular standards are Kunrei (the "official" system - the government wants everyone to use this system, but...), Hepburn (the most popularly used system, also known as the Hyoujun system, or the "standard" system), and the Nihon-shiki system. There is also the westernised romaji, where the double vowels are dropped to make it easier for westerners to read.

Romaji is used by the Japanese to spell their words in the roman alphabet. This means that "Ryouga" would be spelled in any of the following ways and STILL be correct:

Ryouga

Ryôga

Ryo-ga (with the - over the 'o')

Ryooga

Ryoga.

(But I prefer 'Ryouga' because the 'ou' shows that there is a difference between 'ou' and 'oo' ... 'Ryouga', 'Kunou', 'Oosaka', 'ooki' ... The 'oo' way of spelling ignores this difference in spellings.)

This gets pretty confusing, especially for newcomers to the wonderful world of romaji! Maybe one day, though, I'll stop getting people telling me that I spelled the name incorrectly... and that will probably be the day that the Japanese have a romaji standard!!

But I'll still stick to spelling the name as "Ryouga".


© Caroline 'Kunoichi' Seawright 2000 - present

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