Talk:Hepburn romanization/Archive 1

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Archive 1 Archive 2

Standardization issues

A previous version of this article made the strange claim that "Hepburn was abolished in 1994". I've removed this until some proof can be found.

Additionally, any hard information (copies of gov't decrees and such) regarding the legal status of Hepburn would be most welcome. Jpatokal 07:57, 24 May 2004 (UTC)

ANSI Z39.11-1972 American National Standard System for the Romanization of Japanese, American National Standards Institute, 1972, 11 pages. (known as Modified Hepburn) was abolished on Oct. 6, 1994.

Aha, so ANSI has abolished it! This is very, very different from the Japanese government doing so.

ANSI revised Z39.11-1972 in 1989 as the draft for ISO 3602. But since ISO rejected the system and approved Kunrei system in the same year, ANSI finally abolished Z39.11-1972. Ask the institute if you don't believe the fact.

There is no standard for the Romanization of Japanese in the United States today. Present valid standards are ISO 3602 (Kunreisiki), ISO 3602 strict (Nipponsiki), and Japanese Cabinet Order No.1 as of December 9, 1954 (Kunreisiki). ANSI itself, today, recommends ISO 3602:1989. Documentation--Romanization of Japanese (kana script).

In the US the de facto standard is to copy what the Library of Congress does -- and they use Modified Hepburn.

Your so-called Modified Hepburn is NOT Modified Hepburn. Long-vowel omitted Hepburn is informal, and should be called Simplified Hepburn (通用ヘボン式). -Suika

No, the difference between original and modified is the treatment of syllabic N (Nihombashi vs Nihonbashi). I make no claims about the no-long-vowels version, so feel free to edit the text. Jpatokal 01:44, 25 May 2004 (UTC)

In the US the de facto standard is to copy what the Library of Congress does -- and they use Modified Hepburn.

That is the in-house standard of Kenkyusha's New English-Japanese Dictionary that the Library of Congress adopted. It's a kind of convension not corrected yet. Modified Hepburn is no longer regarded as a legally valid standard anywhere.

I don't know if you can really speak of Hepburn being based on English phonology. Actually, almost all the vowels are pronounced completely different than in standard English. To me it seems to be more based on Latin-based languages. If it was based on English, you would write "ee" instead of long "i", "oo" insted of "u" etc.

Ironically speaking, Table II of Japanese Cabinet Order No.1 as of 1954 allows Hepburn with slight differnces; Long vowels are indicated by a circumflex, Syllabic ん is written as n, Geminate consonants are marked by doubling the consonant WITHOUT exception. I think this is the only authority for Hepburn. -Suika


This page ( says that Hyōjun is another name for "Hepburn". Is this true? WhisperToMe 05:29, 1 Aug 2004 (UTC) In addition, KIZU/Britty sez that he's heard of "hyojun-shiki" as a way to refer to hepburn, and that "Hyōjun" means standard. WhisperToMe 06:25, 1 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Yes, Hyojun-shiki means "standard style". It's a somewhat ambiguous term but usually it does mean Hepburn. Jpatokal 14:27, 1 Aug 2004 (UTC)
A while ago, I took the liberty of expanding the part about Hyojun-shiki a little bit. According to Hyojun-shiki specifically refers to Revised Hepburn...

Long vowels

AFAIk the only Hepburn-sanctioned long vowel representations are macrons and (in old Hepburn as surrogates) circumflexes. All the other variants listed should be nuked and moved to Romaji where they belong. Jpatokal 16:04, 2 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I agree. I don't think any representation except single vowel with no mark (Tokyo) or single vowel with macron are used. Stop it Whisper to me. Exploding Boy 18:38, Aug 5, 2004 (UTC)
Maybe not in the case of "Tokyo" in the world of English-speakers, but Hepburn variants like "ou" are passed around like hotcakes, especially in the world of anime fans. Sorry, but the "Tohkyoh" thing wasn't really referring to the use specifically with "Tokyo", but in a more general context. Perhaps "Tokyo" isn't such a good example in explaining Hepburn variants, but it's not my fault that "oh" is used in place of ō, is it? Either all of them stay, or none of them stay. (Except in the case of ignoring the long vowels, which is done with loanwords into English) WhisperToMe 18:43, 5 Aug 2004 (UTC)
WTM, I'd send you to the Japanese Romaji page which discusses Hepburn variants in detail, but hot-diggity-dawg, you can't read Japanese now can you?
Anyway, "oh" is so-called "passport Hepburn" as endorsed by the Japanese Foreign Ministry for passports only. "ou", on the other hand, is wapuro romaji and not Hepburn of any kind; I'll type up an article on this some day. Jpatokal 03:32, 6 Aug 2004 (UTC)
"Some day" finally came today: wapuro romaji

No, "Tokyo" is not a good example to use. The "ou" construction used to be common but isn't any more, and anime fans aren't the arbiters of correct romanization. Exploding Boy 19:03, Aug 5, 2004 (UTC)

I agree with you here. I personally don't care what happens to the "alternate romanization" information on the romanization variants on the Hepburn page as the same info is more or less at the Romaji page. WhisperToMe 19:07, 5 Aug 2004 (UTC)

"Features of Hepburn romanization" Perhaps I didn't read carefully enough, but I don't see much difference in the features of hepburn and the features of nihonshiki & kunreishiki. Is there something I missed? If there truely is no difference then how are these features? I agree that the things should be mentioned, but if they are exclusive, they are hardly features. The reason I came on here was to find out what system uses "ou" type romanization. I was surprised to find out that this is called "wapuro" and isn't as ubiquitous as it seems to be. Something I feel I should note is that when my friends and classmates (international students) send me email in Japanese they seem to mix wapuro and "adopted into English" styles. The difficulty of typing with macrons, circumflexes, and tildes seems to be changing the face of what is standard. Dustin Asby 17:51, 4 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Fundamental problem?

I removed the following:

There is also a fundamental problem in the use of ō-- when seeing a new word without a pronounciation it can be impossible to tell whether the Japanese would use the hiragana/katakana oo or ou.
  1. This is not unique to Hepburn, both Kunrei and Nihonshiki do the same thing (just with a circumflex).
  2. The pronunciation of the two cases is identical. Only the kana spelling isn't, and this is pretty much irrelevant if the original is kanji (which is usually the case).

I'd suggest moving this to Romaji if you can explain why this is such a "fundamental" problem. Jpatokal 17:06, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Legal status paragraph

From the point of view of someone who doesn't know much about Japan, it should be obvious that "Newspapers and TV use Hepburn" is extremely misleading, because it is totally unqualified, and thus implies to a naive reader that Japanese newspapers are written in romaji. The whole paragraph reads like a rant, so I toned it right down and commented out the Newspapers line completely. Also, it should be said that this is actually a quasi-Hepburn, since "n" and long vowels are not indicated at all. Also, there are some places which use the other systems - blanket statements "All ... use Hepburn" and "Every ... is in Hepburn" aren't justified. --DannyWilde 03:23, 11 September 2005 (UTC)

"<!-- This comment is extremely misleading -> Newspapers and TV use Hepburn.-->"
How are they misleading? There are English-language newspapers and media in Japan for expats. WhisperToMe 18:56, 11 September 2005 (UTC)

Syllabic n

"Syllabic n (ん) is written as n before consonants, but as n' (with an apostrophe) before vowels and y."

Wouldn't it also be n' before another n? Otherwise konnichi might be accidentally interpreted as a doubled consonant (こっにち), rather than a syllabic n (こんにち). (originally unsigned by on 01:02, 14 September 2005)

The small tsu never directly precedes an "n" consonant in Japanese, so "konnichi" can be unambiguously interpreted as こんにち and not こっにち. Hence disambiguation with an apostrophe would be unnecessary. —Tokek 01:52, 24 September 2005 (UTC)

Repeated vowel vs. long vowels

A phonetics book on Japanese that I have read interpreted some words as having a phoneme repetition (e.g. /uu/) instead of a single long vowel phoneme (e.g. /ū/), if the two vowels in question come from different morphemes or different kanjis. For examples, 箕面 Minoo (箕, mino + 面, o), 黄色 kiiro (黄, ki + 色, iro), 須佐之男 Susanoo (之, no + 男, o), and 暴風雨 bōfūu (風, + 雨 u). I wonder if any of the hepburns or any other romaji makes this distinction? —Tokek 02:36, 24 September 2005 (UTC)