InoKashira VS InoGashira

Japanese language is written using three alphabets: Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji. However since Japan began being “connected” to the Western world there have been several attempts to write the Japanese language using our alphabet. The basic idea of all these attempts consists on emulating the pronunciation of Japanese characters the best possible way using the Latin alphabet. Even though none of the attempts has been perfect the most used method nowadays is the Hepburn romanization.

I have never taken really seriously to learn perfectly the rules to write Japanese with our alphabet because I find it quite absurd; it’s like if I would try to write English with Japanese characters. However it is true that for some people it’s quite useful to start learning the language; although I don’t recommend it. It is hard, but it is better to start learning Japanese directly with hiragana.

Notice for example this sign where the word 井の頭 is written as inoKashira and then as inoGashira. To say the truth, the word is quite complicated, technically it would be written inoKashira, but when pronouncing it in Japanese quickly it sounds more like what would be written inoGashira. It’s not something very relevant but it’s funny to see the word written in different ways in the same sign!

Inokashira

4 Comments
  • XSportSeeker

    October 18, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Yep, definitely a problem.
    Couple of weeks ago I read this article that used “Hiroxima” and was all WTF?
    But in portuguese (I’m from Brazil) that’s not completely wrong, since the pronunciation is right that way.

    I’ve seen several romanization using “sya” instead of “sha”.

    We also don’t have an official standard for japanese romanization, so there’s no wrong or right.

  • paul

    October 18, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    how come they use different kanji if they are the same?

  • Nat

    October 19, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Paul: The bottom one doesn’t actually say the name “Inokashira” in Japanese at all. It just says “Natural Culture Park” (Shizen Bunkaen). The “Inokashira” is implied.

  • Jeremy

    October 19, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    Typing both ‘inokashira’ and ‘inogashira’ into the Japanese keyboard gets the same result. What happens is that sometimes a consonant goes from voiceless to voiced, as in ‘tokidoki’ (sometimes), when it follows another syllable. I can’t recall the rules exactly, but if you look on wikipedia under japanese phonology you’ll probably find it. It’s strange that there would be two acceptable versions.

    I actually just asked the Japanese people here, and nobody’s really sure. I guess there are just two pronunciations. But, like I said, there’s really not that much difference and it’s just a voiced consonant.