Cyrillization of Japanese

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Cyrillization of Japanese is the practice of transliterating the Japanese language into Cyrillic script, either to represent Japanese proper names or terms in Russian and the other languages written in Cyrillic, or as an aid to Japanese language learning in those languages.

The following cyrillization system for Japanese is known as the Yevgeny Polivanov system. Note that it has its own spelling conventions and does not necessarily constitute a direct phonetic transcription of the pronunciation into the standard Russian usage of the Cyrillic alphabet.

Main table[edit]

Hiragana and Katagana to Polivanov cyrillization correspondence table, for single/modified kana.[citation needed]

Kana Cyrillic Hepburn Kana Cyrillic Hepburn Kana Cyrillic Hepburn Kana Cyrillic Hepburn Kana Cyrillic Hepburn
а a и/й i у u э e о o
ка ka ки ki ку ku кэ ke ко ko
са sa си shi су su сэ se со so
та ta ти chi цу tsu тэ te то to
на na ни ni ну nu нэ ne но no
ха ha хи hi фу fu хэ he хо ho
ма ma ми mi му mu мэ me мо mo
я ya ю yu ё yo
ра ra ри ri ру ru рэ re ро ro
ва wa и/й i э e о o
-н/-м -n
га ga ги gi гу gu гэ ge го go
дза za дзи ji дзу zu дзэ ze дзо zo
да da дзи ji дзу zu дэ de до do
ба ba би bi бу bu бэ be бо bo
па pa пи pi пу pu пэ pe по po
Kana Cyrillic Hepburn Kana Cyrillic Hepburn Kana Cyrillic Hepburn
きゃ キャ кя kya きゅ キュ кю kyu きょ キョ кё kyo
しゃ シャ ся sha しゅ シュ сю shu しょ ショ сё sho
ちゃ チャ тя cha ちゅ チュ тю chu ちょ チョ тё cho
にゃ ニャ ня nya にゅ ニュ ню nyu にょ ニョ нё nyo
ひゃ ヒャ хя hya ひゅ ヒュ хю hyu ひょ ヒョ хё hyo
みゃ ミャ мя mya みゅ ミュ мю myu みょ ミョ мё myo
りゃ リャ ря rya りゅ リュ рю ryu りょ リョ рё ryo
ぎゃ ギャ гя gya ぎゅ ギュ гю gyu ぎょ ギョ гё gyo
じゃ ジャ дзя ja じゅ ジュ дзю ju じょ ジョ дзё jo
ぢゃ ヂャ дзя ja ぢゅ ヂュ дзю ju ぢょ ヂョ дзё jo
びゃ ビャ бя bya びゅ ビュ бю byu びょ ビョ бё byo
ぴゃ ピャ пя pya ぴゅ ピュ пю pyu ぴょ ピョ пё pyo

Geminate Consonants[edit]

Consonants are geminated exactly as they are in romaji: e.g. -kk- > -кк-.

Syllabic n[edit]

Before п, б, and м the syllabic ん is transcribed as м according to pronunciation, similar to Railway Standard (鉄道掲示基準規程) in romanization of Japanese; before vowels and y it is transcribed as нъ in order to indicate syllable boundary; in all other cases it is transcribed as н.[citation needed]

Examples
Japanese Hepburn Cyrillic
しんぶん shinbun симбун
さんか sanka санка
かんい kan'i канъи
ほんや hon'ya хонъя

Common errors[edit]

In English texts, Japanese names are written with the Hepburn system.[1] People then try to transcribe Japanese names as if they were English.

Very often people[1] want to transcribe shi as ши and ji as джи. This is incorrect, because in Russian ши is pronounced as шы and джи as джы. The Russian sound /ɨ/ is in fact closer to Japanese /u/ than to Japanese /i/. It would probably be closer to Japanese to write щи, but the system uses си and дзи. Actually, Russian щи is pronounced like Japanese sshi.[1]

Equally often people transcribe cha, chi, chu, cho as ча, чи, чу, чо. This is acceptable phonetically, but for reasons of consistency, it is better to follow the rules and write тя, ти, тю, тё.[1]

Sometimes э is replaced with е (but, ironically, not at the beginning of a word, even though there are Roman transliterations such as "yen" and "Yedo" which one might expect to be written as ен and Едо).[1] This is tolerable only for the words that are in general use (e.g. kamikaze > камикадзе instead of камикадзэ).[1] One should, however, never replace ё (yo) with е (ye) — it will change the Japanese word too much. The initial ё (yo) or after a vowel, is often written as йо (yo), which has the same pronunciation: Ёкосука -> Йокосука (Yokosuka), Тоёта -> Тойота (Toyota). Although, the spelling "йо" is not common in Russian words, these are more generally accepted for Japanese names than the transliterations using "ё".[1]

Despite the rules, some Japanese words either are now spelled without following the system or have alternative spellings: Hitachi – Хитачи (the corporation, while the city is Хитати), Toshiba – Тошиба (not Тосиба), sushi is spelled "суси" and "суши", the latter is more common.[citation needed]

Many anime fandom members intentionally use the cyrillized Hepburn system and other alternative transcriptions because they believe the system distorts the Russian reading of Japanese pronunciation too much. Preference of a cyrillization system often becomes a matter of heated debates.[citation needed]

Exceptions[edit]

Some proper names, for historical reasons, do not follow the above rules. Those include but are not limited to:[citation needed]

Examples
English (Rōmaji) Russian spelling Cyrillization Japanese
Japan (Nihon, Nippon) Япония Нихон, Ниппон 日本 (にほん, にっぽん)
Tokyo (Tōkyō) Токио То:кё: 東京 (とうきょう)
Kyoto (Kyōto) Киото Кё:то 京都 (きょうと)
Yokohama Иокогама (also Йокохама) Ёкохама 横浜 (よこはま)
Yokosuka Йокосука Ёкосука 横須賀 (よこすか)
Toyota Тойота (Тоёта in older publications) Тоёта トヨタ (originally: 豊田)
jujitsu (jūjutsu) джиу-джитсу дзю:дзюцу 柔術 (じゅうじゅつ)
yen (en) иена (also йена) эн 円 (えん)

Some personal names beginning with "Yo" (or used after a vowel) are written using "Йо" instead of "Ё" (e.g. Йоко for Yoko Ono, but Ёко for Yoko Kanno and all other Yoko's). The letter "Ё" is not often used in Japanese Cyrillization due to its facultative use in the Russian language (and possible substitution with the letter "Е" which would affect the pronunciation), but professional translators use ё mandatory.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]