Romaji Rules

I Don’t Follow Any Specific Official Romaji Standards..

..such as Hepburn or Nihon-shiki, etc. Instead I use what I think to be most comprehensible and easy-to-pronounce for everyone while keeping it as close as possible to the original Japanese pronunciations. Don’t mistake it for something I made up myself, I’m familiar with all the major rules of romanization, I just handpick those that are more comfy to use, simple, and more precise in my opinion.

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My priority in romanizing Japanese is ” Each word For Itself “. Unreasonable separation is seldom applied, and only to the inevitable cases. If one word is too long then so be it. I understand it might cause difficulties in reading the Romaji versions, nonetheless, accuracy proves far more important to me.

Moreover, I will NOT mark any stanza/couplet/verse/hemistich etc as refrain, repetitive or not, to later on in any part of the lyrics summarize it with a ” Repeat X (number)” or such. Yes, even if Kanji lyrics include  (Komejirushi = sign of denotion, similar to asterisk [*] or cross [X]) and ※繰り返し (kurikaeshi = repetition) or any other ways of denoting it.

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S H O R T   V E R S I O N !

►Romaji is always in lowercase, and will not be punctuated◄
►Lines within brackets [] are not part of the Kanji lyrics originally, but those in parentheses are◄
Italic font is used for loanwords, in Romaji and also for their corresponding English words◄
►Song’s own English words start in uppercase and get punctuation according to Kanji lyrics◄
►In English translation, all and any words written in FULL UPPERCASE indicate emphasis only◄
►Song’s any “non-Japanese” words are all treated the same way as English words◄

I follow my own rules regarding everything else so don’t get perplexed over things.
Provided you care at all, you can view them in full details down below.

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L O N G   V E R S I O N !

In full details, the following are my preferences:

Hiragana:

When used as:

Reads:

助詞 (joshi) Particle

wa

助詞 (joshi) Particle

wo

助詞 (joshi) Particle

e

ああ

長音 (chouon) Long Vowels

aa

いい

長音 (chouon) Long Vowels

ii

うう

長音 (chouon) Long Vowels

uu

ええ

長音 (chouon) Long Vowels

ee

おお

長音 (chouon) Long Vowels

oo

えい

長音 (chouon) Long Vowels

ei

おう

長音 (chouon) Long Vowels

ou

dzu

 

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1. Romaji lyrics will not be capitalized or punctuated, as Romanization is merely a bridge between English and any other language that is orthographically different. They should NEVER be written in uppercase, as a matter of fact. “English words” within the original lyrics on the other hand, will, both get punctuated as necessary and written in uppercase for distinction.

1.1. Romaji section’s formatting and paragraph divisions are all in accordance with the Kanji lyrics, but not ultimately so, as there might be need to alter them. Each line break by standard indicates a caesura, hence representing the end of one “half-verse/hemistich”.

1.2. All English words used in the song lyrics will start in uppercase for better distinction. Additionally, as far as fluency and sentence structure allows, these English words will be spelled with uppercase first letter (corresponding with the Romaji version) in the English translation version as well. If in the English part, you see word or words written in uppercase entirely, it’s meant to emphasize, nothing else.

– Example:

– Japanese: …私に don’t cry

– Romaji: …watashi ni Don’t Cry

– English: …Don’t Cry for me

1.3. The only punctuation symbol that might be used will be apostrophe () which will either be used after “n” consonant, which is the only consonant in Japanese, or in between certain vowels to distinguish them from long vowels. Due to that fact, when “n” appears in the middle of a word, it cannot merge with the beginning of the next syllable; however under the effect of the starting sound of the next syllable it might sound more afloat or soft like /ny/ or /yy/, much like “y” consonant. In such occasions an apostrophe will indicate this exceptional pronunciation to avoid mistakes. English phrases might also have certain punctuation that cannot be omitted.

– Example:

– “kunyomi” is syllabicated /kun + yo + mi/ NOT /ku nyo mi/. And because “n” insists on remaining a consonant, it will have to soften down to /ny/. This will be romanized as kun’yomi. (kun’yomi is a word meaning “Japanese reading of a Kanji.)

1.3.1. I might add extra lines to Romaji section that are not originally part of the Kanji lyrics, if I see so fit. When I do, I will put them in brackets []. This will probably only happen when there are clear and relatively-vivid extra lines, usually in the background of the music, which won’t be scripted in the Kanji lyrics since it sticks to the main lyrics mostly. Don’t confuse them with contents of parentheses as whatever is in them is part of the Kanji lyrics itself.

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2. The same rules apply to the Katakana counterparts for the Hiragana shown in the table above, if used at all. Long vowels will always be romanized as double the vowel that’s been elongated. Don’t confuse them with their English way of pronouncing. For instance, no one familiar with Japanese reads the “oo” in ‘[ookami] as they would in [moon]. All long vowels are merely to be pronounced twice as long as the vowel being repeated.

– The equivalents of long vowels in Hepburn’s “Macron” are:

– ā ↔ aa

– ū ↔ uu

– ē ↔ ee

– ō ↔ oo , ou

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 3. The term  補助用言 (Hojoyougen) refers generally to “grammatically-inflictive auxiliary words” in Japanese. The parts that concern us are 補助形容詞 (Hojokeiyoushi), 補助動詞 (Hojodoushi) and 助動詞 (Jodoushi).

3.1. Hojokeiyoushi is translated auxiliary adjectives in most sources and to my knowledge consists of “nai” and “tai” only. They affect verbs (and main adjectives/adjectival compounds, clauses etc as well, in case of ‘nai’), and each adds a certain meaning to them. ‘Nai’ negates the affected verb and ‘tai’ adds a concept of ‘wanting to do’ to verbs. Separating them is absolutely meaningless. Thus these two and all their conjugations will ALWAYS stick to the verb they affect, no matter how long a single Romaji word may turn out.

– A harsh example (containing both on a passive verb):

– 覚えられたくなかった  (oboeraretakunakatta) →  did not want to be remembered

3.2. Jodoushi are purely inflictive suffixes, whereas Hojodoushi are meaningful auxiliary verbs. Both target main verbs. In my romanizations none of the two will be separated from the main verbs unless in exception it would be absolutely necessary. In case of 行く (iku/yuku) which has two various and possible pronunciations, it will be romanized according to the Japanese lyrics, which if ambiguated by use of Kanji instead of Kana, will only redirect me to its pronunciation in the song. I, unlike some lyrical sources, do not hold favor in any of the two readings, and will romanize according to the lyrics/artist only.

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4. Particles in Japanese are called 助詞 (Joshi) and can be very tricky. Some particles together form a new particle and sometimes separating them according to meaning can be difficult. Certain particles are inseparable from the word(s) they affect and some of them can merge with their preceding and succeeding words. There are too many details to cover here, but in general, any particle(s) in adverbial usages, or in any other form that will alter the meaning of their affected word(s) in any way will be romanized as a single unit along with their accompanied word, unless exceptionally necessitated otherwise.

– An example of merging particles:

泣いている の  (naiteiru no da) =>can casually be said=> 泣いている (naiteirunda)

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5. 借用語 (Shakuyougo) in Japanese means “Loanword“. It refers to a word inserted from another language into Japanese and “Japanized” in the process. Other than Chinese with which the Japanese language shares roots, the words inserted from the rest of the languages would be called 外来語 (Gairaigo) which is our main concern here. Gairaigo are by standard written in Katakana. In song lyrics, as well as some in other occasions, this is NOT the only case that Katakana is used. In simple words, not every word in Katakana is a loanword, but loanwords are almost always written in Katakana. In my romanizations you will find “Only Loanwords Spelled in Katakana” and their matching English words to be romanized in “Italics” to further ease the understanding of them.

– For instance the loadword for “door” (usu when talking about a Western type of door) in Japanese would be ドア /do a/. Therefore, if for instance, you see doa in italics in the Romaji and door in the English section of a song’s lyrics, you will know the loanword and its corresponding English term.

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I will change these terms and rules as I keep posting, to my customization preferences. If you have any suggestions, corrections, questions, or any other things you want to mention about this page or the site in general, you can contact me at hs90_2010[at]yahoo[dot]com or simply post a comment in the relevant section.

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One comment on “Romaji Rules

  1. I’ve seen Japanese Romaji words in all caps in lyrics almost every time I have checked. For example: GARASU no shiro ni tojikometa PIERO mitai ni

    Why are these words in all caps? What determines this? Thank you!

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