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Name Pronunciation Between Languages

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So, lately I been shitposting and occasionally adding some actual thought here and there on on a game subreddit. One topic that was brought up was the name pronunciation of the characters and it's something that the creator never really explained how he intended it to be pronounced.

In addition, English dubs in anime are often a controversial topic. They often site things ranging from changing the lines as the change may convey an entirely different tone than intended to something that is arguably minute, such as the way names are pronounced in these dubs.

 

This got me thinking: Are names pronounced incorrectly if not using the native style?

 

Like, my name is Derrick. By default, most Japanese speakers would say something along the lines of "Der-ri-kuu" right? At least that's what an ex who studied both Japanese and Chinese told me. As well as the magic of Google Translate -- speaking of which, it has a very wide variety of styles depending on the language being spoken. So, is that wrong or just the way that it's spoken in that language? Or let's hit a more at home example. "Sonic" is pronounced "Sah-ni-kuh" where in English it's, well, "Sonic." It doesn't appear to be considered wrong, despite some people getting iffy with name pronunciation of other characters from different series. I

 

Maybe it depends solely on the language being spoken, at the time. Where saying "Derrick" in the English format is considered incorrect while speaking Japanese. It definitely would stand out, anyway. Or maybe it matters more on a case by case basis.

 

I dunno, there seems to be multiple trains of thoughts and I'm not exactly a language expert. I took one year of French in high school and basically forgot everything...

 

Personal (possibly uniformed) opinion: language seems like a tricky thing. I don't personally feel like names adapted by a language is necessarily incorrect if it doesn't match the native one. After all, the adapted material would probably work best abiding by the rules of the language it's being injected into. People who say that a certain name is being mispronounced ignore the fact that the name in question is no longer being spoken by native language in that moment.

Though, like I said, I took one year of French, soooo maybe I'm wrong.

What are you thoughts? Any of you guys considering yourself language students and want to chime in?

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As someone who speaks a few languages,

The reasons why names can sound really funky in other languages is because often times, sounds which are very common in one language, are not found in another. In fact, the other language's natives may not have even had that part of their mouth and tongue develop to even give them the ability to make that sound!

The best example is why Japanese Ls all sound like Rs, there is no L sound in Japan, so they have to do the best they can since that sound doesn't exist.

When I learned Dutch, the "sch" sound was really hard for me, and the letter g is also very different from English, eventually I got it down but the reason why it was hard was because those sounds don't exist and I really had to teach my mouth and throat how to make them. So when saying a Dutch person's name that has a G in it that requires that sound, if I'm talking to a Dutch person, I'll make the proper sound, but sometimes I'll forget if speaking to someone whose natural language is English. I would say most understand that if their name sounds very different than it would in other languages (such as my Dutch example), that very few outside of their country will say their name the way a native would.

 

Hope that helps you a bit!

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1 hour ago, DarkChaosGaming said:

The reasons why names can sound really funky in other languages is because often times, sounds which are very common in one language, are not found in another. In fact, the other language's natives may not have even had that part of their mouth and tongue develop to even give them the ability to make that sound!

The best example is why Japanese Ls all sound like Rs, there is no L sound in Japan, so they have to do the best they can since that sound doesn't exist.

Or, speaking from personal experience, the "rr" sound in Spanish. Unless you can roll your Rs (I can't), you have no hope of pronouncing it.

Languages.

Spoiler

Was the character in question Monika from DDLC?

 

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2 hours ago, DarkChaosGaming said:

Hope that helps you a bit! 

It does quite a bit. I had absolutely no idea that tongues developed differently based on languages someone grew up speaking. I mean, it makes sense thinking about it, but I never knew. That's actually incredibly interesting. Guess dialects of the same language probably do something similar, but to a far less degree. 

 

1 hour ago, Dizcrybe said:

 

  Reveal hidden contents

Was the character in question Monika from DDLC?

 

 

  You caught me. DDLC seems like it's well on its way to becoming the new "annoying fandom of the next few months" so I didn't really specify, but I figured it wasn't super important. But honestly, I knew someone would guess it real easy. 

But, yeah. She has two possible names pronunciation: Mon-ika and Mo-Ni-Kah. 

It's very common to hear most English speakers to default to Mon-Ika where a Japanese speaker would say Mo-Ni-Ka. Some say the Japanese style is correct given that the game is supposed to be based on Japanese visual novels. However, if the name is being spoken by an English speaker with the English language, isn't it actually more correct to use the English version?

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In real life, you can ask people what pronunciation they'd prefer and go on a case-by-case basis, but if we're talking about fictional characters, it's a bit trickier.  Attempting to selectively perform a foreign accent is a bit iffy in my view, and more than that, sometimes attempts to imitate native pronunciation (I've seen this in English dubs of Japanese material, and I expect it extends to other languages too) end up being very exaggerated and come to sound even less like the original.  For that reason, in general I would run with whatever pronunciation feels natural unless specifically instructed otherwise.  If it's just a name, then you're still speaking English overall, and the alternative might actually be more patronising.  This is separate, of course, from if you were actually trying to speak an entire foreign language, because there you would need to imitate the native pronunciation closely in order to be understood.

Spoiler

I don't know much about DDLC, but it's actually western-developed, I believe?  Which means there's the added consideration of it not being "authentically" Japanese even if it's based on Japanese material.  In that case, I'd be inclined to follow the creator's opinion, but if there is no official interpretation (or if you disagree with it!), then again, you might be better just using whatever pronunciation feels most natural.

 

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There's a joke in DDLC where Natsuki says Monika should like squid because her name is Monika (emphasis on the 'Ika' because that's squid in Japanese), and Monika outright says that's not how her name is pronounced, which to me leads more credence to the Western pronunciation being correct. Plus there's the whole fact she's deliberately supposed to be out of place.

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I don't view different pronunciations of names in different languages as incorrect. I find it more natural, if anything, as opposed to introducing one language's pronunciation of a name into an entirely different language, which at times can sound like you try to switch back and forth between languages mid-sentence.

Here is a weird example. In some foreign TV shows here, standard procedure can be to translate not only the language itself, but also the name of characters, either altering them slightly or changing them fully in order to adapt and flow better with the new language. In modern foreign TV shows that end up dubbed however, it is now more common not only to use the original name, but also imitate its native pronunciation, as well. To me, it has a tendency of feeling unnatural more than anything. Each language has their own set of rules for how it is to be written or spoken for good harmony, and I would say "borrowing" pronunciation can interfere with said harmony.

If I refer to an English name to someone else in my country through daily speech, I may have to focus when using English pronunciation mid-sentence, as opposed to the more seamless option.

On the subject of Sonic the Hedgehog, me and others have always said something like "Swoonic", while one of my friends adapted the British pronunciation of Sonic (something which greatly confused me the first time I heard it).

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23 minutes ago, Diz said:

In some foreign TV shows here, standard procedure can be to translate not only the language itself, but also the name of characters, either altering them slightly or changing them fully in order to adapt and flow better with the new language. In modern foreign TV shows that end up dubbed however, it is now more common not only to use the original name, but also imitate its native pronunciation, as well.

So basically the same deal as North America and anime.

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1 hour ago, VEDJ-F said:

 

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There's a joke in DDLC where Natsuki says Monika should like squid because her name is Monika (emphasis on the 'Ika' because that's squid in Japanese), and Monika outright says that's not how her name is pronounced, which to me leads more credence to the Western pronunciation being correct. Plus there's the whole fact she's deliberately supposed to be out of place.

 

When reading people pointing out the squid thing, they often went to the defense of Mo-Ni-Ka being correct, since it'd be Mon-

ika for English. However... listening to the word squid in Japan, Ika sounds like "ee-kah" and of course, Mo-nee-kah would have more of that squid sound. Thus, listening more to it, it does sound like Mon-ika is more correct. Plus, you know, it'd be weird for the manga-loving Natsuki to, you know, approach Monika as if she's using the Western style.

 

But yeah, the whole out of place thing is certainly something to consider. Heck, the whole thing pretending to be translated material is all something to think about.

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Well, this is interesting. Don't mind if I butt in. ^_^

Coming from a country where basically only kids' stuff gets dubbed while the rest is just subbed there's a fun mixture of pronouncing; it depends purely about what's the case and who's talking.

About every Swedish name is pronounced like they should since reasons, but when it comes to the other languages, like English and French, it really depends. One of my French teachers used to cringe whenever they heard someone pronounce Cannes like "kannes" and not "kann", especially if it was about news readers.

It's like, one can say Derek with the English r or Finnish, more rolling r, that's pretty small fries really. But then names like Mike; the English way seems to be like "maik" but in here some may say "mike" just because in Finnish there's very few cases where stuff's pronounced differently from how it's written.

And just think about how funny it gets with French; Jaques is said like "jakues" if one has no idea how to pronounce it or no care about "Frenchie laa-dee-daah". (I think I have it a bit better, at least I hope so, otherwise those 9 years of studying French didn't really pay off that well...)

Sonic is pretty much said "sonik", without any hints of a's whatsoever (in English there seems to be a bit of a in that o in this case), and that's how I say it when I'm talking in Finnish. Now comes the really fun part though; Tails and especially Knuckles.

I did this when I was so small I had no everloving idea about English pronouncing, and there's people who do it like this anyway because Finnish. 

Everything pronounced like it's written. Tails is "tails", not "teils", and Knuckles... well, it's "knukles", not "nakls". It's funny. Nowadays I say them in a more English-pronouncing style but still, it takes a lot of time to learn which letters aren't for pronouncing in English words and all that stuff. There might be other ways too but I dunno any, and "tails" is more usual than "knukles" I think. The rule seems to be like if the word's easy enough to say as it's written, it's usually said as it's written, like for example Silver prolly gets this treatment more easily than Blaze I assume.

Fun thing, Some Finnish names really love to use things like 2 "k"'s on a row. I can only imagine how hard that must be for foreigners wrap their heads around, it's like one needs to have a small pause before a sharp "k" or something.

That and the "two-dots". Though "American a" is pretty much how ä is said. I have a funny feeling everytime I hear an American-accent version of Antoine...

(I swear I once heard someone say "sonik the hedgehog" for real... usually hedgehog's translated.)

And yup, just subtitles, it's the best way to watch foreign stuff really. And one's understanding by hearing improves greatly. And it's fun to watch Reservoir Dogs and see in how many different ways one swear can be translated in Finnish without using the most obvious one... :D

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Well, here's a famous case: Vegeta.

In japanese and english, the name is spelled "Ve-ji-ta". But when the series came to latin america, the name was translated to "Ve-gue-ta". But still, people rolled with it and actually use it over the original pronunciation. But this wasn't applied to neiter "Vegetto" or "Gogeta", those are still pronounced like the native language.

You also have the slightly difference with Goku, which in this region they put the accent on the "U"

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