Revised request: Japanese transliteration variants

Frank Bennett biercenator at
Tue Sep 1 23:38:18 CEST 2009

On Tue, Sep 1, 2009 at 11:46 PM, Phillips, Addison<addison at> wrote:
> Hello Frank,
> Please note that "nihonshiki" is too long to be a valid subtag (the limit is eight characters). You should propose a shorter alternative.

Thank you, and my apologies for the back-and-forth over this.

As "Nihon-shiki" transliteration is formally registered with the ISO
as a variant of "Kunrei", it should be treated as a sub-variant of
that transliteration method.  I would like to revise the proposal as
follows.  To avoid confusion, please refer to this as "Frank's second
revised proposal":

     Type: variant
     Subtag: hepburn
     Description: Revised Hepburn romanization.
     Prefix: ja-Latn

     Type: variant
     Subtag: kunrei
     Description: Kunrei-shiki romanization, as defined in ISO-3602.
     Prefix: ja-Latn

     Type: variant
     Subtag: strict
     Description: Nihon-shiki romanization, as defined in ISO-3602 Strict.
     Prefix: ja-Latn-kunrei

Frank Bennett

> Regards,
> Addison
> Addison Phillips
> Globalization Architect -- Lab126
> Internationalization is not a feature.
> It is an architecture.
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: ietf-languages-bounces at [mailto:ietf-languages-
>> bounces at] On Behalf Of Frank Bennett
>> Sent: Tuesday, September 01, 2009 6:25 AM
>> To: ietf-languages at
>> Subject: Revised request: Japanese transliteration variants
>> Thanks to everyone for their feedback on the earlier request.
>> Hepburn
>> is what I know, but the comments reminded me of the importance of
>> precision and authority, and I have revised the request to provide
>> more background, and added tags for two systems that some persons
>> locally are likely to demand receive equal billing with Hepburn.
>> Request for variant registration
>>   1. Name of requester: Frank Bennett
>>   2. E-mail address of requester: bennett at
>>   3. Records Requested:
>>      Type: variant
>>      Subtag: hepburn
>>      Description: Revised Hepburn romanization.
>>      Prefix: ja-Latn
>>      Type: variant
>>      Subtag: kunrei
>>      Description: Kunrei-shiki romanization.
>>      Prefix: ja-Latn
>>      Type: variant
>>      Subtag: nihonshiki
>>      Description: Nihon-shiki romanization, as defined in ISO-3602
>> Strict.
>>      Prefix: ja-Latn
>>   4. Intended meaning of the subtag:
>> Indicates the target content is Japanese text, romanized according
>> to
>> the rules set forth in the document cited in the relevant
>> Description.
>>   5. Reference to published description of the language (book or
>> article):
>>       English (primary)
>>           Revised Hepburn: ALA-LC Romanization Tables (available
>> for download)
>>           Kunrei-shiki: ISO-3602 (available for purchase)
>>           Nihon-shiki: ISO-3602 Strict (available for purchase)
>>       English (secondary)
>>       Japanese (primary)
>>           Revised Hepburn: Japan Transport Ministry Bulletin no.
>> 490
>> of 26 July 1947.
>>           Kunrei-shiki: ローマ字のづづり方 [Method of Romanization],
>> Cabinet
>> Notice no. 1 of 9 December 1954.
>>       Japanese (secondary)
>>   6. Any other relevant information:
>> The immediate need for this is in the context of bibliography
>> management, where alternate representations of a title, name or
>> other
>> field must be offered for sorting or display purposes.  Japanese
>> has a
>> very orderly phonetic structure and native logographic
>> representation,
>> but there are several different methods of romanization, none of
>> which
>> have succeeded in dislodging the others.
>> Broadly speaking, existing romanization methods fall into two camps.
>> Revised Hepburn and its variants well exploit the latin script, to
>> produce a representation from which it is easy to approximate
>> Japanese
>> pronunciation with a minimum of exposure to the language.
>> Kunrei-shiki and Nihon-shiki adhere closely the logographic
>> representation used in native Japanese writing.  As a result, these
>> methods require some training in order to learn how to map the
>> roman
>> character combinations used onto the spoken language.
>> Apart from these relatively small practical differences, their
>> differing origins (or, more precisely, the differing image of their
>> origins) fuels a patriotic division of loyalties between the two
>> camps: for Hepburn is named for a 19th century Christian missionary
>> to
>> Japan, and Kunrei-shiki is named for a government order issued
>> during
>> the period of direct Imperial rule, in 1937.  The friction between
>> the
>> two camps will presumably persist indefinitely.  Therefore, it is
>> probably prudent to add representatives of both camps to the
>> standard
>> at this point, to avoid future controversy.
>> =======
>> hepburn
>> =======
>> Revised Hepburn is the most common Japanese romanization method in
>> use.  While there are several variants of Hepburn, the ALA-LC
>> Romanization Tables provide clear and comprehensive guidelines
>> likely
>> to be acceptable to any consumer of text that expects Hepburn
>> romanization.
>> (The Traditional Hepburn system dates from the late 19th century,
>> and
>> has been superceded in modern publishing by Revised Hepburn.  I am
>> not
>> aware of any publisher that requires it, and have therefore left it
>> out of this submission.)
>> (There is an "extended Hepburn" system, which avoids the use of
>> macrons.  This is not in common use, and is documented, as nearly
>> as I
>> can tell, only in journal papers published by a single academic.  I
>> have therefore left it out of this submission.)
>> ======
>> kunrei
>> ======
>> Kunrei-shiki is the officially recognized method for romanizing
>> Japanese in the Cabinet Office and many government ministries,
>> including the Ministry of Education.  Most adults in Japan were
>> taught
>> Kunrei-shiki romanization in elementary school, before being
>> exposed
>> to Hepburn in later schooling or universitiy.  Kunrei-shiki is
>> definitely a minority method in real-world use, but as the
>> successful
>> campaign to have Hepburn dropped from the ISO standards, and
>> Kunrei-shiki set up in its place, the proponents of Kunrei-shiki
>> are
>> eager partisans, and sensitive to the attitude of standards bodies.
>> I'll be happy to address any questions or concerns that the group
>> may have.
>> Thank you for your time,
>> Frank Bennett
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