Japanese Character Names

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Tetsuwan Penguin
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Japanese Character Names

Postby Tetsuwan Penguin » 5 years ago

One thing I often wonder is how were the character names actually pronounced. Astros name in the Japanese language was "Atom", but it was actually pronounced "Atomu" most of the time. In fact, most of the Japanese names were represented in English in a modified form with the wrong pronunciation.

The best example is Cobalt. The Japanese word is actually Kobaruto, being a borrowed word it is written as コバルト. Funny thing, it took me a while to notice the "elemental" pattern Tezuka used for naming Atoms siblings.

Astro girl (UGH!), was of course, Uran in the Japanese. This is short for Uranium, although I have NEVER heard her called that in the anime. In fact, her name is not pronounced with the English "U" vowel sound, but rather more like 'OO-RON'.

Then there is Chi-tan. His name means Titanium, and the romanization is often written without the '-'. In the anime I hear the name pronounced not with the English "i" vowel sound, but rather as "Chee-Tin".

I suspect most of the other names are in fact different from the way we know them. For example "Acetylene Lamp" is surely the English translation of the Japanese name, which I have never heard. Same for Ham Egg and Skunk (though "Kusai" is surly the romanization of the actual Japanese name, though maybe not pronounced the way it looks).

Does anyone have more information?
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Postby SuwaHana » 5 years ago

Well to be fair, loan words are usually altered from their original languages. Think of how we (English speakers) pronounce words like "tsunami", "kamikaze", or "sayonara"--much differently than how they are actually pronounced in Japanese. From what I've gathered, consonants (other than n) cannot be pronounced without a vowel after them, making names like Tom or Jack, "Tomu" and "Jakku". The vowel added to the end really depends on the consonant before it, and it can take some time to memorize all the combinations. A "u" is usually added after "m"s for the Japanese pronunciation, hence "Atomu".

Cobalt is pretty self-explanatory. Unless the actors specifically knew English, they weren't going to speak entirely Japanese lines and suddenly throw in a perfectly-pronounced English word.

As for Uran, that has to do with the Japanese pronunciation of the word Uranium. In (American) English, it's "Yoo-ray-nee-um", but it came to be read as "Oo-rah-nee-oo-moo" (that's not the exact pronunciation, but you get the idea). Thus, Uran is "Oo-rah-n" instead of "Yoo-ray-n" (which is also why her name was pronounced that way in the English dub of the 80's series).

Now, Chi-tan. Titanium transliterated into Japanese is "Ti-tah-nee-oo-moo" (again, that's the closest we can get to properly writing a pronunciation of a word in a different language). There's this interesting thing in the Japanese language in which, many times, "ti" becomes "chi". Has something to do with the harshness of the accent and such. Take for example the character Sanae Kochiya in the Touhou series of games. In a few of the games, her name is written (in English) as "Sanae Kotiya". Usually, however, it's pronounced just "Kochiya". An opposite example would be the character nicknamed "Rosa Gigantia" in Maria Watches Over Us. I assumed the characters would say her name as "Giganchia", but they usually pronounce the t just fine. I'm no professional, so I couldn't say why this is; just a peculiarity of the language I suppose. Also, it should be noted that the "ch" sound is often equated with babytalk in Japanese (example: the manga Kamichama Karin--Kamichama is a "cute" corruption of the word kamisama, "god"). Thus, Titanium becomes Chi-tan.

I don't have any official sources on the matter of Acetylene Lamp's name, but Google Translate tells me that acetylene is pronounced "ah-seh-chi-ren" in Japanese.

Hope this helps (also sorry if any of the information is incorrect--maybe another user could verify!)

(I hope the bold letters work ;_; )

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Postby Dante69 » 5 years ago

I seem to be very picky about names. I see the way you all type Chi-tan as (tan) looks more like slurred honorific from Chan. Is his name Chi? Or would adding an honorific be Chitan-chan?
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Postby Tetsuwan Penguin » 5 years ago

"Dante69" wrote:I seem to be very picky about names. I see the way you all type Chi-tan as (tan) looks more like slurred honorific from Chan. Is his name Chi? Or would adding an honorific be Chitan-chan?


It would most likely be Chi-tan Kun, considering his age. Chi-tan can be written with or without the '-', ie: Chitan is also correct. The word means titanium. Atom and his siblings all have 'elemental' names (pun intended).
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Postby Reid958 » 5 years ago

Here's a YouTube video, that say tetsuwanatom in more clearly in Japanese.
http://youtu.be/WqckezdoNKU

It's more like showing you how to say it. I don't know anything else to say now, but I just wanted to share this. Which I hope that would help

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Postby Fauna » 5 years ago

Does anybody have an audio example of someone referring to Chi-tan? Because either his name is just Chi, and the "-tan" is a common cutesy pronounciation of "-chan" (think of "lil" instead of "little"), or he's really Chitan / チタン and it's a pun involving the honorific.
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Postby Tetsuwan Penguin » 5 years ago

"Fauna" wrote:Does anybody have an audio example of someone referring to Chi-tan? Because either his name is just Chi, and the "-tan" is a common cutesy pronounciation of "-chan" (think of "lil" instead of "little"), or he's really Chitan / チタン and it's a pun involving the honorific.

Have you ever seen any of the missing 89 episodes in Japanese? In several of these I have heard his name pronounced "Chee tin" quite clearly.
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Postby Earthshine » 5 years ago

I'm not really sure if his name is just "Chi" and the "tan" is just an cute honorific, or if his name really is Chi-tan... From all my studies involving the language my gut wants to say that his name is just "Chi" and the "tan" is just slapped on and everyone in the series just says "Chi-tan" in referring to him because he is depicted as so small and little and it's thus a "nickname" (the best English equivalent) for him.

But I really don't know.

If anyone has a clip of him (and just a clip) being referred to I'd like to hear/see it too. I'm afraid I have not seen much of the missing 89 :blush:

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Postby Tetsuwan Penguin » 5 years ago

If I can locate a suitable clip and can figure out how to use the Linux video editor to cut it from the video I'll post it on my website and add a link to it here. BTW the very last episode (104) does have Chitan in it and you might find the reference there. I think that episode might be on youtube (it was part of the RiteStuff collection BTW) I'm sure that the name actually WAS chitan, and IIRC it WAS that in the one manga episode he appeared in. Would have to check with Jeffbert and Strangewings on that though.
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Dante69
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Postby Dante69 » 5 years ago

"Tetsuwan Penguin" wrote: It would most likely be Chi-tan Kun, considering his age. Chi-tan can be written with or without the '-', ie: Chitan is also correct. The word means titanium. Atom and his siblings all have 'elemental' names (pun intended).

It can be "Chan", right? He is a baby, and 'chan" is used for cute things, babies included. If not, the internet has failed me again... :shifty:
:tenma: :astro: :o cha: LOL


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