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Is my "Japanese translation" of my surname legitimate?

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My surname is Hess. In Chinese characters, that is 赫斯 (he4-sz1). The Kanji reading of 赫斯 is "Kakushi".

I know that nowadays it is more common to transcribe directly to katakana, in which case I would be ヘス (Hesu), but in the olden days, foreign names were transcribed through Kanji.

Is it legitimate for me to write my surname as 赫斯 in Japanese? Did I mess up the transcription process somewhere?
 

Majestic

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When you say "legitimate", I think that will be interpreted differently by us here, and the answer would also depend upon your intent. Using the kanji to register your name on official documents in Japan wouldn't be allowed (unless you come from a country where your name is typically written in kanji). Foreigners from countries that don't use kanji have to register their details using latin alphabet. I think you can legally change your name into a kanji name. You can also make a separate application to use a kanji name as an alias, if I'm not mistaken. But in normal, everyday use, western last names are always expressed in katakana (or kept in the original latin alphabet).

If you tried to present yourself as Mr. Hess using 赫斯, it would confound everyone who saw it. It isn't correct phonetically in Japan, and it wouldn't make any sense to anyone here. You would forever be telling people, "this is how you write my name in Chinese characters", and the person on the receiving end would be thinking, "....but this isn't China".
 
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When you say "legitimate", I think that will be interpreted differently by us here, and the answer would also depend upon your intent. Using the kanji to register your name on official documents in Japan wouldn't be allowed (unless you come from a country where your name is typically written in kanji). Foreigners from countries that don't use kanji have to register their details using latin alphabet. I think you can legally change your name into a kanji name. You can also make a separate application to use a kanji name as an alias, if I'm not mistaken. But in normal, everyday use, western last names are always expressed in katakana (or kept in the original latin alphabet).

If you tried to present yourself as Mr. Hess using 赫斯, it would confound everyone who saw it. It isn't correct phonetically in Japan, and it wouldn't make any sense to anyone here. You would forever be telling people, "this is how you write my name in Chinese characters", and the person on the receiving end would be thinking, "....but this isn't China".

Thank you! What I mean by legitimate is is "赫斯" (Kakushi) a legitimate Japonicization of Hess? Like is it linguistically sound to pronounce "赫斯" as Kakushi?

The appeal to me is that I know native Japanese names are written in kanji, and I believe "when in Japan, do as the Japanese do", and it is also apparently the way the Japanese rendered western names before WWII.
 

Majestic

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No, 赫斯 wouldn't be pronounced anything like "Hess", and nobody would intuit it as a kanji representation of Hess unless that person were very, very familiar with Chinese renderings of western names.

Using Japanese skillfully means knowing when to use kanji, hiragana, and katakana. Trying to force western words or names into kanji in the belief that the kanji makes them more "authentic" is a mistaken understanding of Japanese. Better to use ヘス, as that is the most proper and easiest to understand rendering of the name.

Also better to use エレベーター than 昇降機, and better to use アメリカ rather than 亜米利加, etc... Katakana is 100% Japanese, so rendering foreign names in katakana is correct, legitimate, and much more appreciated by the reader.

I leave you with an image from well before the war showing that the Japanese were already transliterating western names into katakana rather than trying to find kanji that approximated the sounds of the name.

perry.PNG
 
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No, 赫斯 wouldn't be pronounced anything like "Hess", and nobody would intuit it as a kanji representation of Hess unless that person were very, very familiar with Chinese renderings of western names.

Using Japanese skillfully means knowing when to use kanji, hiragana, and katakana. Trying to force western words or names into kanji in the belief that the kanji makes them more "authentic" is a mistaken understanding of Japanese. Better to use ヘス, as that is the most proper and easiest to understand rendering of the name.

Also better to use エレベーター than 昇降機, and better to use アメリカ rather than 亜米利加, etc... Katakana is 100% Japanese, so rendering foreign names in katakana is correct, legitimate, and much more appreciated by the reader.

I leave you with an image from well before the war showing that the Japanese were already transliterating western names into katana rather than trying to find kanji that approximated the sounds of the name.

View attachment 31972

I might be wrong about the WWII thing, it might be before the Meiji Restoration.

Am I at least right that the kanji reading of "赫斯" is "Kakushi"?
 

Toritoribe

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I might be wrong about the WWII thing, it might be before the Meiji Restoration.
The picture Majestic-san provided is the one in the late Edo period, i.e., before the Meiji Restoration. It's also the same for ルイス・フロイス for Luís Fróis in Sengoku period.


You might be confusing "name of westerner" with "name of a westerner who is naturalized as Japanese" like 耶楊子 Yayōsu for Jan Joosten or 三浦按針 Miura Anjin for William Adams.


Am I at least right that the kanji reading of "赫斯" is "Kakushi"?
Kakushi is the most possible reading, but not the only one correct reading or something. Anyway, almost all Japanese people, including me, wouldn't think it has something to do with "Hess", as Majestic-san pointed out.
 
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The picture Majestic-san provided is the one in the late Edo period, i.e., before the Meiji Restoration. It's also the same for ルイス・フロイス for Luís Fróis in Sengoku period.


You might be confusing "name of westerner" with "name of a westerner who is naturalized as Japanese" like 耶楊子 Yayōsu for Jan Joosten or 三浦按針 Miura Anjin for William Adams.



Kakushi is the most possible reading, but not the only one correct reading or something. Anyway, almost all Japanese people, including me, wouldn't think it has something to do with "Hess", as Majestic-san pointed out.

Thanks. A few follow up questions
1. Which syllable in Kakushi is stressed?
2. Why are Chinese names still read via Kanji pronunciation if Western names aren't? i.e. Xi Jinping is "Shū Kinpei", Mao Tse-tung is "Mõ Takutō", and Chiang Kai-shek is "Shō Kaiseki"
 

Toritoribe

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1)
The pitch accent type is type 1, i.e., the accent is on the first mora /カ]クシ/.

2)
That's totally different story from western people's names. They originally have kanji/hanzi names, so it's reasonable to read it in Japanese pronunciation, as the same reason as Chinese-originated kanji words are read in Japanese pronunciation (e.g. 海洋 is kaiyō, not haiyang, 皇帝 is kōtei, not huangdi).

Chinese names are sometimes read in Chinese-like pronunciation nowadays, for instance Shī Chinpin or Shī Chīpin for 習近平, instead of Shū Kinpei. As for Korean names, Korean-like pronunciation is more common in these days, like 金大中 is Kimu Dejun, not Kin Daichū or 全斗煥 is Chon Dufan, not Zen Tokan.


I don't understand why you stick to 赫斯 Kakushi, which has nothing to do with "Hess" in Japanese pronunciation. If you prefer kanji name than katakana name, how about to use kanji that can be read "Hesu" in Japanese pronunciation, for instance 舳須, as foreigners often do, like 瑠偉 for Ruy, or 闘莉王 for Tulio.

 
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1)
The pitch accent type is type 1, i.e., the accent is on the first mora /カ]クシ/.

2)
That's totally different story from western people's names. They originally have kanji/hanzi names, so it's reasonable to read it in Japanese pronunciation, as the same reason as Chinese-originated kanji words are read in Japanese pronunciation (e.g. 論語 is Rongo, not Lunyu, 皇帝 is kōtei, not Huangdi).

Chinese names are sometimes read in Chinese-like pronunciation nowadays, for instance Shī Chinpin or Shī Chīpin for 習近平, instead of Shū Kinpei. As for Korean names, Korean-like pronunciation is more common in these days, like 金大中 is Kimu Dejun, not Kin Daichū or 全斗煥 is Chon Dufan, not Zen Tokan.

I don't know what "the pitch accent type is type 1" means

Do you know why Chinese and Korean names are sometimes read in a more native pronunciation instead of the traditional Japanese one?
 

Toritoribe

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I don't know what "the pitch accent type is type 1" means
Japanese is a pitch-accent language, not a stress-accent language like English.


As I already wrote, type 1 means that the accent is on the first mora "ka", i.e., "Kakushi" is high–low–low.

Do you know why Chinese and Korean names are sometimes read in a more native pronunciation instead of the traditional Japanese one?
It's basically for consideration for those people, so those pronunciations are often used for the present generation.
 
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