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Oh Maikeru

If your name were Michael and addressed as "Maikeru", how would you feel? Foreign names are pronounced the way your language does. Therefore depending on the language, your name can be pronounced quite a different way.

This is just the case with English and Japanese. The phonetical difference between the two languages is so big that you often can't expect your name to be called as it should be.

We don't have the sounds f, v, and th. They are substituted for h, b, and s/z. So Beth is "Besu", Vicky is "Bikki", Jonathan "Jonasan", Sylvia "Shirubia", Steve "Sutibu", Vincent "Binsento"... As you may notice, in Japanese pronunciation every consonant is followed by a vowel. Brenda should be "Burenda" and Max must be "Makkusu" and Pat is definitely "Patto". And what's worse (or not), our language has no distinct difference between l and r. Sometimes they are like l, but other times they are like r. Some people pronounce them like l, but others r. Ron and Lon are identical in katakana, a Japanese alphabet used to write foreign words.

Once an American man named Trevor stayed in our town as an AET (Assistant English Teacher). He was a very brilliant guy and knew much about Japan and its language. We got along with each other. But there was one thing that we varied in opinion -- how to write his name in katakana. Generally, the name Trevor is called "Toreba" in Japanese. But he insisted that his name should be "Torebo". And so he did.

Ba and Bo -- which is more similar to the original sound? Either way, one is as weird as the other. Hahaha.


well, as someone struggling to learn Japanese, I think trying to make sense of Katakana is sometimes more difficult than learning Kanji. It's maddening (sometimes) to have to "re-translate" the katakana back into some semblance of English or wherever the word came from. Not to mention that many of these words have quite different meanings or usages than the original word, or are sort of inventions using a combination of words or a shortening of the original (eg. pasokon/personal computer; ootobai/motorcycle). Sort of like a weird feedback loop, learning these words.

as for my name (Kurt Easterwood), it's written (romanized here) kaato iisutauddo (at least my inkan is a one-of-a-kind)

Irasshai, Kaato-san!
Thanks for mentioning interesting points. I know what you mean. There are a lot of weird Katakana words. So after all you have no choice but to think they are Japanese.

Old topic :p but I do have a comment.

My first name (Tamara) is usually pronounced Tah-meh-rah, but when I speak it in French, it is pronounced much like how a Japanese would (tah-mah-rah) so I don't mind it. But my last name is pronounced really differently, so it is weird to hear the two versions.... Oh well.