Status of Japanese requests

Mark Crispin mrc+ietf at
Fri Sep 25 17:51:44 CEST 2009

I don't know if I should mention this or not, but I will anyway.

As far as I know, there are at least three variants of kunrei-shiki: the 
original kunrei-shiki, a newer form (shin-kunrei-shiki), and the variant 
(sometimes called JSL-romanization) used in Eleanor Harz Jorden's 
textbooks that innumerable students once suffered through.

Also, is the name to be written in Hepburn or kunrei-shiki?  If the 
latter, it would be "kunrei-siki"...

I also note that Hepburn, Nippon-shiki, and kunrei-shiki all require the 
use of macrons for long o.  Hepburn and Nippon-shiki use U+0304; 
kunrei-shiki uses U+0302.  AFAIK, the use of "ou" is so-called "word 
processor romanization"; "oo" is Jorden.

Supposedly, long a, u, and e also use macron forms, but I don't recall 
ever seeing them (what does ISO 3602 say?).  I almost always see long e 
written as "ei", but of course Jorden uses "ee" to be different.

Then there is Jorden's substitution of "o" for "wo" を...  I don't know 
where the other romanizations stand on the particles は (ha, but 
pronounced "wa" when used as a particle) and へ (he, but pronounced "e" 
when used as a particle).

Consider these variations of writing the name of Japan's capital:
  [1]	Tôkyô		kunrei-shiki
  [2]	Tōkyō		Hepburn, Nihon-shiki
  [3]	Tookyoo		Jorden
  [4]	Toukyou		word processor
  [5]	Tokyo		most common(!)

Yet I see all but [3] in use in supposedly Hepburn text.

The differences between Nippon-shiki and kunrei-shiki are subtle.  Other 
than the macron difference (and I don't think that anyone who romanizes 
Japanese with macrons pays attention to which one they use), AFAICT 
the only difference is that Nippon-shiki preserves (as "di" and "du") the 
kana ぢ and づ that are otherwise pronounced identically (as "zi"/"ji" and
"zu") to じ and ず.  So, a person who thinks he's using kunrei-shiki as 
input to a word processor is probably using Nippon-shiki instead.

I haven't a clue as to how kunrei-shiki and shin-kunrei-shiki differ.

Then there's numerous examples where the romanization is mixed.

The point that I'm trying to make is that there seem to be many variations 
of romanization, and that a Hepburn, Nippon-shiki, and kunrei-shiki split 
doesn't quite seem right.  There are substantial differences that are not 
accomodated by the three-way split, and the Nippon-shiki/kunrei-shiki 
split seems dubious by comparison.

I don't want to hold up registration of Hepburn, especially if it can be 
subclassed to accomodate differences in long vowel handling.

I think that the non-Hepburn part needs more careful thought before it is 
registered.  If ISO 3602 defines kunrei-shiki well enough, fine; but there 
has to be something to accomodate the other variants that are sort-of 
kunrei-shiki (JSL being an important one) but don't fall under the 
Nihon-shiki umbrella.

Otherwise, I fear that anything that looks at all like kunrei-shiki 
will be called that, ISO 3602 compliance be damned.

-- Mark --
Democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what to eat for lunch.
Liberty is a well-armed sheep contesting the vote.

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