Status of Japanese requests
mrc+ietf at panda.com
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:
 Tôkyô kunrei-shiki
 Tōkyō Hepburn, Nihon-shiki
 Tookyoo Jorden
 Toukyou word processor
 Tokyo most common(!)
Yet I see all but  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
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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