I shall Standardize my Romanization
Up to now I’ve been very inconsistent in my romanization of Japanese words. Often I’ve simply borrowed the most popular form around and used that. But different people in different situations use different forms, and this troubles me deeply. From now on I will stick to one standard, you can call it animationskraft-shiki.
I’ve never had any problems with the consonants and short vowels, where I always stick by the generally approved Hepburn system, which means basically writing out Japanese consonants as they would be in English, and the vowels as they would be in Italian (or Spanish). The problem is the long vowels, in which Hepburn users follow one (or often confusedly, more than one) of three ways:
a) doubling the vowel: long o → oo
b) adding an “h” to the vowel: long o → oh
c) adding a diacritic over the vowel: long o → ô (or ō)
The first is possibly the most appropriate phonetically speaking. The second is borrowed from the German, which often adds a “silent h” to lengthen the vowel sound. The third is quite popular recently. Other people ignore the vowel length altogether, but again, this is done inconsistently.
There’s one more complication: historically syllables coming from China that are literally written as “ei” and “ou” are actually pronounced as a long “e” and a long “o” respectively. In romanizing Japanese it’s very common to see the “ei” written out, but for some reason “ou” is not as common.
So to take the first modern era name in Japanese history (明治), any of these would be valid:
Meji [this last one is never seen, but I guess it’s possible]
I’m going to settle this mess once and for all. My system will take etymology and aesthetics (my own private taste, basically) into account. Japanese words come from three sources: a) Japan b) China c) the rest of the world. This is what I’ll do:
a) Native Japanese Words
I’ll double the vowel, without exceptions. Thus the author of Soul Eater, Mr. 大久保, who likes to spell his name as Ohkubo will become Ookubo in this blog. I apologize to him for that.
b) Sino-Japanese words
I will write out the “long e” as “ei”. I will write out the “long o” as “oh”. Yes, I dislike the “ou” combination; I don’t know why but apparently I’m not the only one. Therefore 鉄郎, which I usually romanized as Tetsuro (thus ignoring the length of the “o”) will now become “Tetsuroh”.
c) Foreign words
These words are usually written out in katakana with a length marker ( ー ) following the vowel. I will use a macron for these when I want to romanize them strictly, though more often than not I’ll simply change the word to its original in English or French or whatever. For example スーパー will become “sūpā” or simply “super”.
This of course does NOT apply to foreign character names in anime. In that case, the Japanese writing itself is a transliteration of the foreign (or alien) original and so I’ll have to take loads of other things into consideration. Maetel is not going to become “Mēteru” anytime soon!!
AUGUST 19th NOTE:
To make things clearer, let me just lay it out like this:
うう→ uh / uu *
“Uu” only in words not of Chinese origin (loanwords from English, for example).