lemon (lemontea@earthlink.net)
Thu, 18 May 2000 21:15:47 -0700


Jim Dulhunty wrote:

> Let me put on my Linguists coat here. Japanese doesn't have a /ch/ sound like English does. The closest sound in Japanese is /sh/, so
thats the easiest way for a native Japanese speaker to pronounce 'Char'.
 They'd say /sha/, I'd say /cha/ with a longish vowel.
>
> Jim
>

  Wrong. Japanese DOES have a hard "ch" sound - "chi" (as in "ta",
"chi", "tsu", "te", "to"). It is used in conjunction with "smaller"
characters to alter its sound (i.e. "chi" + small "yo" = "cho", "chi" +
small "ya" = cha [as in "tea"]). My wife is Japanese (with a minor in
linguistics), and I speak it pretty well myself. So to end this
argument, Char Aznable is pronounced "shar".
  Here's the way it seems to usually work; they come up with an idea for
a character or mecha name - usually in roman letters. Then they
translate it into Katakana so it can be easily read by the Japanese
staff/actors/etc. But when someone tries to translate it back into
roman letters without knowing what the original "spelling" was, that is
where all these arguments and confusion begin. A good example is
"Dougram". I know many people who used to say "dugram", thinking the
"Doug" part of Dougram was pronounced like the american man's name
"Doug". But if you read the Katakana, it is clearly pronounced
"daugram" ("daguramu" in Katakana). I've even known people (Americans)
who would say "goondam" - because they assumed the "Gun" in Gundam was
pronounced like the Japanese "gu" sound (in Katakana, Gundam is written
"gandamu"). The closest a Japanese person would be able to pronounce
the English word "gun" would be to write it as "gan" in Katakana.
  I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. When translating
Katakana into roman letters, don't always be so literal - use some of
those funky English "rules" (we all know English is a quirky language
anyway).

        Trevor in Irvine

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