The decline and fall of the Western-Civ filter

So I picked up my copy of Shounen Magazine today (yeah, yeah... I read it for Kumeta Kouji's Sayonara Zetsubou-sensei, okay?) and noticed that idol 北乃きい, pronounced kitano kii, prefers to romanize her name "Kitano Kie".

(This is not just a Magazine thing. Her agency and her blog spell it that way too.)

Speaking as a finicky coot, this development is enough to make me want to write to the Times in sarcastic protest. I can live with romanization that ignores long/short vowel distinctions, and I can live with people who prefer variant but not ambiguous ways of spelling their name (e.g. TAKEMOTO "Shimotsuma Monogatari" Novala -- not "Nobara".) But "Kie" is straight-up confusion, my friend. /i/ and /e/ are separate in Japanese. We're living in a society. Are we going to start talking about "sushe" too? (Oh, snap! We are!)

On the other hand, speaking as an enthusiastic advocate of language change, especially for aesthetic reasons, I think "Kie" is a perfectly dandy spelling of what is after all an unusual name. Take the roman alphabet with my blessing, o model-managing brothers, and bend it to your will. It is your vaguely-linked-to-phonetics set of glyphs now. Let "E", which once represented a joyfully praying figure, express my giddy delirium as I anticipate idols named OoOiOoO* and ☆mni♡**.

(P.S. I am posting this on November 31st. I bet you didn't even think that was possible. EDIT: Crap, it defaulted to December 1st.)

* Pronounced "Yukiko".
** Pronounced "Aki".

Popularity factor: 9


Technically, we're talking about "sush.E" which is... better... somehow....

on beyond zebra:

I wouldn't get too bent. Prince went further with that glyph he used when someone else owned his name.


This reminds me of one of my yoga teachers, who is from Japan and decided to romanize her name "Saiko," even though her name is せいこ. She told me she thought it'd be easier for Americans to pronounce that way, which I find highly questionable.


Max, I'd almost buy it if she'd made it "Sayko".

But there's no limit to (our) American resourcefulness when it comes to mispronouncing names.

Over the years my own fairly bread-and-butter monosyllabic last name has been mangled into [kriːg kræˑg krɛˑg] and [kraɩg]. (I prefer [kreɩg], btw.)


Kamikaze Girls? Wow. I guess it's not nearly as bad as when the Japanese substitute new homemade English titles for the original ones, but still.

As for the name, I can sympathize with wanting to keep foreigners from ignoring half my name. I think most English speakers would just say "ki"[key], otherwise.


OK, I'll bite: Matt, by what possible perversion of the rules could those become "Yukiko" and "Aki"?

(I hope I'm not being incredibly dense again!)

Big Ben:

I know a girl who writes her name みい as "mie" so this isn't unprecedented.

How about the romanization of めい's name in the subtitles/credits to Totoro?I would understand "May", but who could have thought "Mai" was a good idea?


"Mae" would have been a fun choice in that last case. Or maybe too risque for the younglings?

"Is that a soot sprite in your pocket? Or are you just glad to see me?"


Man, it always surprises me which posts get the most comments.

IDR: I am proposing a complete overturning of the rules in favor of visual appeal only!

BB: Yeah, "Mai" makes no sense. Why go only halfway? Especially since it's specifically a reference to English "May"!

I am surprised by this みい -> Mie thing, by the way. This is already a standardized form? Good lord.

Azuma: I dunno, I think most English speakers would lengthen the "ki" until it was effectively a "kii"...

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