AniDB Definition:Romanisation

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The information on this page is provided as guidelines on the use of romanised Japanese (rōmaji) in AniDB. Please be aware that this is not an exact science, there are many viable solutions to the same problem, though when submitting change requests on romanised titles users are expected to adhere to the 'house style' of the database. When there is contention over a particular issue, this page will provide both alternatives. External links to Wikipedia are provided throughout for ideas and terms that might be unfamiliar.

What romanised titles are for

  • Primarily, to provide a transcription of the Japanese title that is aurally recognisable and readable by a user with little or no knowledge of the language. In using Roman script, this is obviously targeted at speakers of European languages, however as this constitutes a majority of the population of AniDB users, this is a fair restriction.
  • Secondary purposes include enabling rough pronunciation of titles, providing an alternative method of searching for a Japanese title, assisting novices in reading unfamiliar words, and clarification of the reading of a particular word or phrase where it might be ambiguous.

What romanised titles aren't for

  • There is no requirement to be able to reconstruct the original title from romanised form. With three distinct scripts plus Roman, a wide range of homophones, and typographic intricacies such as furigana usage, this is beyond the scope of a 26 letter alphabet. In all cases the Japanese title should be presented as well, a romanised form is in no way a replacement for this.
  • Further more, the romanisation need not be a lossless transliteration of Japanese spelling. Though less so than English, Japanese pronunciation deviates somewhat from the phonemic spelling. As the aim is to provide an aurally recognisable transcription, it is more important to better reflect the sound than exact spelling.
  • Romanised titles do not need to provide a basis for correct Japanese collation of titles. This is a technical problem that would be better handled correctly through its own system, and would interfere with the primary purpose of the romanisation.
  • Romanisations need not have an 'official' status. Though both the Japanese makers and international licensees might provide a romanised title, this is irrelevant to a transcription of the Japanese title - except arguably in the case of names.

Hepburn romanisation

The Hepburn romanisation system was devised for a Japanese–English dictionary, published in 1867. Despite having no official status, variations of it are used for a vast majority of transcriptions, both inside and outside Japan. Unlike the two other main romanisation schemes, it concentrates of representing Japanese phonology rather than the underlying spelling.

Table of kana romanisation

Each mora represented in the kana spelling of a Japanese word can be transcribed into Roman letters according to the table below, with a few special cases that are listed in the following sections. The hiragana is on the left, katakana is on the right.

Table adapted from wikipedia article on Hepburn. Obsolete kana are shown in red.

a i u e o (ya) (yu) (yo)
ka ki ku ke ko きゃ kya キャ きゅ kyu キュ きょ kyo キョ
sa shi su se so しゃ sha シャ しゅ shu シュ しょ sho ショ
ta chi tsu te to ちゃ cha チャ ちゅ chu チュ ちょ cho チョ
na ni nu ne no にゃ nya ニャ にゅ nyu ニュ にょ nyo ニョ
ha hi fu he ho ひゃ hya ヒャ ひゅ hyu ヒュ ひょ hyo ヒョ
ma mi mu me mo みゃ mya ミャ みゅ myu ミュ みょ myo ミョ
ya yu yo
ra ri ru re ro りゃ rya リャ りゅ ryu リュ りょ ryo リョ
wa wi we wo
n
ga gi gu ge go ぎゃ gya ギャ ぎゅ gyu ギュ ぎょ gyo ギョ
za ji zu ze zo じゃ ja ジャ じゅ ju ジュ じょ jo ジョ
da (ji) (zu) de do ぢゃ (ja) ヂャ ぢゅ (ju) ヂュ ぢょ (jo) ヂョ
ba bi bu be bo びゃ bya ビャ びゅ byu ビュ びょ byo ビョ
pa pi pu pe po ぴゃ pya ピャ ぴゅ pyu ピュ ぴょ pyo ピョ
Extended Katakana - These are used mainly to represent the sounds in words in other languages. Most of these are not formally standardized and some are very rarely used.
ye イェ
wi ウィ we ウェ wo ウォ
va ヷ vi ヸ ve ヹ vo ヺ
va ヴァ vi ヴィ vu ヴ ve ヴェ vo ヴォ
she シェ
je ジェ
ti ティ tu トゥ che チェ tyu テュ
di ディ du ドゥ dyu デュ
tsa ツァ tsi ツィ tse ツェ tso ツォ
fa ファ fi フィ fe フェ fo フォ fyu フュ

Special cases

Hepburn also has a few extra rules to deal with particular cases, the ones below the AniDB house style adheres to.

The particle spelling rules exist to reflect modern Japanese pronunciation, note there are other features that Hepburn does not attempt to reflect, for instance the frequent dropping of the vowel /u/ (です is only pronounced 'desu' by kids), largely because there's no easy rule that could always be applied. The 'small tsu' rules reflect the fact it used in two rather different ways, and the syllabic n case is to deal with the problem that transcription might be ambiguous in a few cases.

Particle は as wa

Intro to は by Tae Kim

This rule is basically accepted by everyone, generally only ignored in error.

When used as a particle, transcribe は as 'wa' rather than 'ha'

  • Better represents the pronunciation
  • Common practice everywhere

Particle へ as e

Intro to へ by Tae Kim

Sometimes contested, as romanisations that ignore this rule are somewhat common. Use 'e' in preference, but if adding an anime title where 'he' is sometimes used, add that alternative as a synonym.

When used as a particle, transcribe へ as 'e' rather than 'he'.

  • Better represents the pronunciation.
  • Established Hepburn rule, and widespread usage by those who follow transcription rules strictly.
  • Titles will save one character per へ particle.

Particle を as o

Intro to を by Tae Kim

When used as a particle (you won't ever see it used in a normal word, so this means always (exceptions can come with names) transcribe を as 'o' rather than 'wo'.

  • Better represents the pronunciation.
  • Established Hepburn rule, and widespread usage by those who follow transcription rules strictly.

Discussion: 2004.06 (old forum) / 2004.06 (old forum) / 2005.07 (old forum) (warning: profanity)

っ when geminate consonant

Really a very simple rule, complicated by one particular case. When っ is indicating a stop, the easy way to show that in the Roman alphabet is with a doubled consonant. However for っち/っちゃ/っちゅ/っちょ the cluster tch is a probably a better transcription than cch (which is also confused by use in Italian) - but which is used tends to come down to individual words, which makes applying a general rule very difficult.

When part of a word, always transcribe っ by doubling the following consonant.

  • One less rule to remember.
  • Some common words are best known with a 'cch' transcription.
Futari Ecchi (ふたりエッチ) Ecchi has been borrowed back into English, and almost always spelt with the 'cch' - though this particular title is arguably just 'Futari H'.

っ when exclamation

Commonly either given as an exclamation mark or just dropped, the former is preferable.

Transcribe っ at the end of a word as '!', unless followed by one anyway, in which case drop.

  • The っ as surprise/intonation marker is broadly equivalent to an exclamation mark.
  •  !! is っ! is ! semanticly, typography isn't important for transcriptions.
AA! Megami-sama! (ああっ女神さまっ)
Tsuruhime Ja! (つる姫じゃーっ!)

ん before vowels as n'

Accepted.

Deviations from Hepburn

Note These are rules in Hepburn that the AniDB house style does not follow, for the reasons given.

Macron usage for long vowels

Not accepted.

ん before labial consonants as m

Not accepted.

Loanwords and Transcribed Words in Japanese

The description is missing or severely incomplete.
If you can, please help by explaining it.

For more information, see Wikipedia's page on Gairaigo.

Spell in original language where possible

For foreign loanwords and foreign words transcribed to Japanese, spell the word as the original language would spell it. Do NOT write it as a Japanese romanisation.

Example:

  • ウォーター (uoutaa): this is the word 'water' transcribed to Japanese. Spell it as 'water' in the transcription title.
  • アイスクリーム (aisu kuriimu): this is a loanword for 'ice cream'. Spell it as 'ice cream' in the transcription title.
  • たまごっち (tamagocchi): this has a widely used English spelling of 'Tamagotchi'. Spell it as 'Tamagotchi' in the transcription title.

What to do with Wasei-eigo terms

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For more information, see Wikipedia's page on Wasei-eigo.

Example:

  • レベルアップ (reberu appu, 'level up'): Japanese usage means "raise a level".
  • カンニング (kanningu, 'cunning'): Japanese usage means "cheating".

What to do with names and invented terms

The description is missing or severely incomplete.
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Other orthography issues

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Anything that doesn't fit into the above major categories.

Capitalisation

Use an initial capital letter for 単語.

See the Capitalisation guide.

Spacing

Separate each word (単語 (Tango)) and particle (助詞 (Joshi)).

Exception: (Question) Particle: か (ka) When か is used as an indicator for a question (most of the times at the end of a sentence), it will be assimilated to the Verb. Example: 私の家へ行きますか - Watashi no Uchi e Ikimasuka
When か is used to indicate a choice in the middle of a sentence, which includes a noun, it will be split. Example: コーヒーか茶か - Kohi ka Cha ka

隊 (tai)

Separate 隊 (Tai ("Group")), except when it's actually part of another word (e.g. 軍隊 (Guntai (Army/Troops)). Don't hyphenate.

Example:

少女隊 - Shoujo Tai (Shoujo Tai , a Japanese girl band from the 80's)

号 (gou)

Separate 号 (Gou ("Vessel" / "Ship" / "Issue" / [...]), except when it's actually part of another word (e.g. 暗号 (Angou (Code/Cypher))). Don't hyphenate.

Example:

ベザン・ブラック号 - Bezan Black Gou (Bezan Black Gou , character/ship from One Piece)

編 (hen)

Separate 編 ("Volume" / "Version" / [...]), except when it's actually part of another word (e.g. 完結編 (Kanketsuhen (Last program of a series))). Don't hyphenate.

Example:

魔動王グランゾート 冒険編 - Madou King Grandzort: Bouken Hen (Madou King Grandzort: Bouken Hen , an OVA from the 90s)

部 (bu)

Separate 部 ("Part" / "Section" / [...]), except when it's actually part of another word (e.g. 帰宅部 (Kitakubu (Students who do not participate in club activities of the school))). Don't hyphenate.

Example:

柔道部物語 - Judo Bu Monogatari (Judo Bu Monogatari , an OVA from the 90s)

Exception: If the term preceding 部 is not a word, use a hyphen. Examples:

する (suru)

Always split

Example:

べんきょうする - Benkyou Suru
べんきょうします - Benkyou Shimasu
べんきょうしました - Benkyou Shimashita


Honorifics and Suffixes expressing status/job

Honorifics and such are widely used in Japanese.

Our rules on that are:

  • use dictionary word if applicable
  • use dash (-) to separate word from honorific
  • use lowercase on the honorific

(Incomplete) List of Suffixes

  • -bokushi (牧師)
  • -chan (and all its variations) (ちゃん)
  • -chi (ち)
  • -denka (電化)
  • -fujin (夫人)
  • -hakase (博士)
  • -hakushaku (伯爵)
  • -heika (陛下)
  • -hime (姫)
  • -joshin (女神)
  • -kakka (閣下)
  • -keibu (警部)
  • -keibuho (警部補)
  • -kouhai (後輩)
  • -kun (くん)
  • -kyou (卿)
  • -kyouju (教授)
  • -megami (女神)
  • -ojou (お嬢)
  • -sama (さま)
  • -san (さん)
  • -senpai (先輩)
  • -sensei (先生)
  • -shi (し)
  • -shimai (姉妹)
  • -shinpu (神父)

(Incomplete) List of dictionary words

  • お父さん - Otousan ("Papa"), but Otou-chan
  • お母さん - Okaasan ("Mama"), but Okaa-chan
  • 父上 - Chichiue ("Father")
  • 母上 - Hahaue ("Mother")
  • 父親 - Chichioya ("Father")
  • 母親 - Hahaoya ("Mother")
  • おじさん - Ojisan ("Uncle"), but Oji-chan
  • おばさん - Obasan ("Aunt"), but Oba-chan
  • おじいさん - Ojiisan ("Grandpa"), but Ojii-chan
  • おばあさん - Obaasan ("Grandma"), but Obaa-chan
  • 赤ちゃん - Akachan ("Baby")
  • 神様 - Kamisama ("God")
  • 白雪姫 - Shirayukihime ("Snow White")
  • 歌姫 - Utahime ("Songstress")
  • 人魚姫 - Ningyohime ("Mermaid Princess")
  • 雪男 - Yukiotoko ("Snow man")
  • 雪女 - Yukionna ("Snow woman")
  • 殿様 - Tonosama ("Lord")
  • 機関車先生 - Kikanshasensei

たち (tachi)

Always split from the associated word and set '-'.

i.e.
Elf o Karu Mono-tachi

色 (iro)

Dictionary Words

A list of real Japanese composita that you can find in a dictionary will be seen as one word on AniDB:

藍色 - Aiiro ("Indigo Blue")
茜色 - Akaneiro ("Madder Red")
赤色 - Akairo ("Red")
薔薇色/バラ色/ばら色 - Barairo ("Rose Coloured")
橙色 - Daidaiiro ("Orange")
艶色 - Enshoku ("Charming / Wonderful Colour")
銀色 - Gin'iro ("Silver Coloured")
灰色 - Haiiro ("Grey")
緋色 - Hiiro, Hishoku ("Scarlet", "Cardinal")
黄色い - Kiiroi ("Yellow")
金いろ - Kin'iro ("Golden")
金色 - Konjiki ("Golden")
水色 - Mizuiro ("Light Blue")
桃色 - Momoiro ("Pink", "Rosy")
七色/なないろ - Nanairo (describes the seven colours of the rainbow)
音色 - Neiro ("Tone colour", "tone (quality)")
瑠璃色 - Ruriiro ("Azure")
緑色 - Ryokushoku/Midoriiro ("Green")
桜色/サクライロ/さくらいろ - Sakurairo ("Pink", "Cherry Blossom Coloured")
真珠色 - Shinjuiro ("Pearl Grey")
秋色 - Shuushoku ("Autumn/Fall Scenery")
空色/ソライロ - Sorairo ("Sky Coloured")
鴇色 - Tokiiro ("Pale Pink", "Pale Rose")

Non-Dictionary Words

A list of composita with 色 that you can't find in a Japanese dictionary will be separated with "-":

雨色 - Ame-iro ("Rain Coloured")
あなた色 - Anata-iro ("You-Coloured")
朝色 - Asa-iro ("Morning Coloured")
不思議色 - Fushigi-iro ("Mysterious Coloured")
グンジョ色 - Gunjo-iro (群青, Gunjou: Ultramarine)
初色 - Hatsu-iro ("First (Time) Coloured")
枯れ葉色 - Kareha-iro ("Colour of Dead/Dry Leaves")
君色 - Kimi-iro ("You-Coloured")
恋色 - Koi-iro ("Love Coloured")
ココロいろ - Kokoro-iro (Kokoro means Heart, but can also be Soul, thus it's either "Heart Coloured" or "Soul Coloured")
マーブル色 - Marble-iro ("Marble Coloured")
モーブ色 - Mauve-iro (Mauve Coloured)
みらいいろ - Mirai-iro ("Future-Coloured")
紫水晶色 - Murasakisuishou-iro ("Amethyst Coloured")
ナミダイロ - Namida-iro ("Wave Coloured")
夏色 - Natsu-iro ("Summer Coloured")
ニビイロ - Nibi-iro ("Nibi Coloured")
虹色 - Niji-iro ("Rainbow Coloured")
オレンジ色 - Orange-iro ("Orange (Coloured)")
セピア色 - Sepia-iro ("Sepia Coloured")
修羅色 - Shura-iro ("Fighting/Battle Coloured")
ときめき色 - Tokimeki-iro (ときめく, tokimeku: to throb, to flutter, to palpitate; send your throb-coloured things to us!)
夢色 - Yume-iro ("Dream Coloured")
百合色 - Yuri-iro ("Lily Coloured")
ユウヤケイロ - Yuuyake-iro ("Sunset Coloured")

Special Guests

A list of anime specific "colours" that are purely fictional:

ラメ色 - Lum-iro (Lum , a character from Urusei Yatsura)
トモカネいろ - Tomokane-iro (Tomokane , a character from GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class)
ノダミキいろ - Noda Miki-iro (Noda Miki , a character from GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class)
ナミコいろ - Namiko-iro (Namiko , a character from GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class)
キョージュいろ - Kyoju-iro (Kyoju , nickname for a character from GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class)
キサラギいろ - Kisaragi-iro (Kisaragi , a character from GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class)

This list is of course not complete and will get new colours added when they are encountered

Counters

When making a combination between a number and one of the many many many Japanese counters, the two words merge into one, thus creating a compound.

Here you will find a list of some (!) useful counters and how they should be transcribed on AniDB.

Please note that there is a whole lot more of counters used in the Japanese language that are not included in this list, making this list expandable.

Counting in General

# Kanji Hiragana Transcription
1 一つ ひとつ Hitotsu
2 二つ ふたつ Futatsu
3 三つ みっつ Mittsu
4 四つ よっつ Yottsu
5 五つ いつつ Itsutsu
6 六つ むつ Mutsu
7 七つ ななつ Nanatsu
8 八つ やっつ Yattsu
9 九つ ここのつ Kokonotsu
10 とお Too
20 二十 はたち Hatachi

Positioning / # (Counter: 番) 

# Kanji Hiragana Transcription
1 一番 いちばん Ichiban
2 二番 にばん Niban
3 三番 さんばん Sanban
4 四番 よんばん Yonban
5 五番 ごばん Goban
6 六番 ろくばん Rokuban
7 七番 ななばん Nanaban
8 八番 はちばん Hachiban
9 九番 きゅうばん Kyuuban
10 十番 じゅうばん Juuban

People (Counter: 人)

# Kanji Hiragana Transcription
1 一人 ひとり Hitori
2 二人 ふたり Futari
3 三人 さんにん Sannin
4 四人 よにん Yonin
5 五人 ごにん Gonin
6 六人 ろくにん Rokunin
7 七人 ななにん / しちにん Nananin / Shichinin
8 八人 はちにん Hachinin
9 九人 きゅうにん Kyuunin
10 十人 じゅうにん Juunin

Small Animals (up until the size of a dog); also rolls of cloth (Counter: 匹)

# Kanji Hiragana Transcription
1 一匹 いっぴき Ippiki
2 二匹 にひき Nihiki
3 三匹 さんびき Sanbiki
4 四匹 よんひき Yonhiki
5 五匹 ごひき Gohiki
6 六匹 ろっぴき Roppiki
7 七匹 ななひき / しちひき Nanahiki / Shichihiki
8 八匹 はっぴき Happiki
9 九匹 きゅうひき Kyuuhiki
10 十匹 じゅっぴき Juppiki

Large Animals (Counter: 頭)

# Kanji Hiragana Transcription
1 一頭 いっとう Ittou
2 二頭 にとう Nitou
3 三頭 さんとう Santou
4 四頭 よんとう Yontou
5 五頭 ごとう Gotou
6 六頭 ろくとう Rokutou
7 七頭 ななとう Nanatou
8 八頭 ななとう / はっとう Hattou / Hachitou
9 九頭 きゅうとう Kyuutou
10 十頭 じゅっとう Juttou

Stories/Tales (Counter: 話); also: Birds and Rabbits (Counter: 羽); Bunches, Bundles, Sheaves, Letters (Counter: 把)

# Kanji Hiragana Transcription
1 一話 いちわ Ichiwa
2 二話 にわ Niwa
3 三話 さんわ Sanwa
4 四話 よんわ Yonwa
5 五話 ごわ Gowa
6 六話 ろくわ / ろっぱ Rokuwa / Roppa
7 七話 ななわ / しちわ Nanawa / Shichiwa
8 八話 はちわ / はっぱ Hachiwa / Happa
9 九話 きゅうわ Kyuuwa
10 十話 じゅうわ / じゅっぱ Juuwa / Juppa

Long Thin Objects (Counter: 本)

# Kanji Hiragana Transcription
1 一本 いっぽん Ippon
2 二本 にほん Nihon
3 三本 さんぼん Sanbon
4 四本 よんほん Yonhon
5 五本 ごほん Gohon
6 六本 ろくほん / ろっぽん Rokuhon / Roppon
7 七本 ななほん Nanahon
8 八本 はっぽん Happon
9 九本 きゅうほん Kyuuhon
10 十本 じゅっぽん Juppon

Small Objects (Counter: 個)

# Kanji Hiragana Transcription
1 一個 いっこ Ikko
2 二個 にこ Niko
3 三個 さんこ Sanko
4 四個 よんこ Yonko
5 五個 ごこ Goko
6 六個 ろっこ Rokko
7 七個 ななこ Nanako
8 八個 はっこ Hakko
9 九個 きゅうこ Kyuuko
10 十個 じゅっこ Jukko

Machines and Vehicles (Counter: 大)

# Kanji Hiragana Transcription
1 一大 いちだい Ichidai
2 二大 にだい Nidai
3 三大 さんだい Sandai
4 四大 よんだい Yondai
5 五大 ごだい Godai
6 六大 ろくだい Rokudai
7 七大 ななだい / しちだい Nanadai / Shichidai
8 八大 はちだい Hachidai
9 九大 きゅうだい Kyuudai
10 十大 じゅうだい Juudai

Flat Objects (Counter: 枚)

# Kanji Hiragana Transcription
1 一枚 いちまい Ichimai
2 二枚 にまい Nimai
3 三枚 さんまい Sanmai
4 四枚 よんまい Yonmai
5 五枚 ごまい Gomai
6 六枚 ろくまい Rokumai
7 七枚 ななまい / しちまい Nanamai / Shichimai
8 八枚 はちまい Hachimai
9 九枚 きゅうまい Kyuumai
10 十枚 じゅうまい Juumai

Floors (of a Building) (Counter: 回)

# Kanji Hiragana Transcription
1 一回 いっかい Ikkai
2 二回 にかい Nikai
3 三回 さんがい Sangai
4 四回 よんかい Yonkai
5 五回 ごかい Gokai
6 六回 ろっかい Rokkai
7 七回 ななかい Nanakai
8 八回 はちかい / はっかい Hachikai / Hakkai
9 九回 きゅうかい Kyuukai
10 十回 じゅっかい Jukkai

Glasses (of Liquid) (Counter: 杯)

# Kanji Hiragana Transcription
1 一杯 いっぱい Ippai
2 二杯 にはい Nihai
3 三杯 さんばい Sanbai
4 四杯 よんはい Yonhai
5 五杯 ごはい Gohai
6 六杯 ろくはい / ろっぱい Rokuhai / Roppai
7 七杯 ななはい Nanahai
8 八杯 はちはい / はっぱい Hachihai / Happai
9 九杯 きゅうはい Kyuuhai
10 十杯 じゅっぱい Juppai

Books (Counter: 冊)

# Kanji Hiragana Transcription
1 一冊 いっさつ Issatsu
2 二冊 にさつ Nisatsu
3 三冊 さんさつ Sansatsu
4 四冊 よんさつ Yonsatsu
5 五冊 ごさつ Gosatsu
6 六冊 ろくさつ Rokusatsu
7 七冊 ななさつ Nanasatsu
8 八冊 はっさつ Hassatsu
9 九冊 きゅうさつ Kyuusatsu
10 十冊 じゅうさつ Juusatsu

Punctuation

Use international punctuation rules:

  • space after comma (,) but not before
  • space after last full stop (.), questionmark (?), exclamation mark (!)
  • use no space after the aforementioned if it's the end of the sentence/expression

For Japanese titles:

  • replace any Japanese fullwidth characters with equivalent halfwidth character
  • replace Japanese comma (、), Japanese full stop (。), questionmark (?), exclamation mark (!) and, where applicable, space to meet punctuation rules

Practical guide

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