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Name Eiko- correct Japanese characters

pubiska

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Hello,
for the birthday of my husband I want to engrave his name (in japanese characters) on the gift.
His name is Eiko. I know in Japan there is a female name Eiko and there are several ways to write this name.
What would be the most common type for a male name Eiko?
Could someone help me on this? :)
Thank you
 

Toritoribe

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There is no "the most common" one. There are countless variations, and it's totally impossible to get the correct one without asking someone who knows the correct answer.

You used a derogatory abbreviation of "Japanese" in your thread title. I corrected it.
 

pubiska

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Thank you for your fast reply & the correction of the thread title.

The name Eiko is a male name in Germany. So theoretically there is no correct version to write his name in japanese characters, right?
But he is a big Japan fan and I wanted to surprise him with the "Eiko-san" engraving.
Hm, now I don't know which variation should I use...
 

Toritoribe

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Ah, I see. I thought your husband was Japanese, and Eiko was his Japanese given name.

Strictly speaking, Eiko is a female given name, as you wrote, and a male given name is usually Eikō/Eikou (the last vowel is a long vowel). This is not so common as a male given name, though.

The meaning of the name is provided by the kanji in Japanese, not the pronunciation, so "the most appropriate name" differs depending on the meaning you want to imply in it. What is the meaning of "Eiko" in German? The best way is to choose appropriate kanji for Eiko/Eikō according to the original meaning of it. However, it's often hard to find out kanji that has both the same/similar pronunciation and the same/similar meaning as the original one, so another way is to choose kanji that has the same/similar pronunciation and relatively good meaning, like 郎波亜頭 for Robert.
 

pubiska

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Oh, I see. So it's quite complicated, indeed.
But maybe with your help we can find a solution :)
The name Eiko in Germany has two meanings:
Eather edge (like knife/cutting edge) or oak (strong as an oak).

Would there be an appropriate kanji for that?
Or at least something that would be ok to write so that the engraving won't be totally incorrect then.

many thanks
 

joadbres

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I recommend using the following two kanji (together) to write your husband's name: 鋭橿.

It is not a 100% perfect match with either the German name meaning or reading, but is quite close, as I will explain.

First, the character meanings.

The principal meanings of the first character (鋭) are "sharp; pointed", "sharp weapon", "clever; keen", "acute (as in angle)", and "elite (especially armed forces)". This is not quite the same as "weapon edge", but is closely relevant. Furthermore, the Japanese word 最新鋭, which uses this character, means "cutting edge", a term you mentioned in your last post.

The meaning of the second character (橿) is "oak" - a perfect match with what you wrote.

The most apparent meaning of the 鋭橿 name (that is, both characters treated together) would be "sharp oak", quite close to the German meanings of the name Eiko.

...

Next, the character readings.

The main Chinese-derived reading of the first character is "ei", a perfect match with the first sound of the name Eiko.

The main Chinese-derived reading of the second character is "kyō" (with a long vowel sound). This is not quite the same as "kō", the second sound of the Japanese man's name Eiko, but is very close. If you look at the handful of other, different Japanese kanji which contain the same phonetic element as this character (the right-hand side parts of the character), most of them also have the reading "kyō", but some of them additionally have the reading "kō", which is closely related to the reading "kyō". So, it is not unusual at all to assign the reading "kō" to the character 橿.

If you were to show the name 鋭橿 to Japanese people and ask them how to read (pronounce) it, many would not be familiar with the second character, and would not have any idea how to read it. Those who did know it would probably guess "Eikyō" as the full (two-character) name reading, but these people would probably also find "Eikō" to be a plausible reading.

For these reasons, I recommend using this name.
 

pubiska

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Thank you very much for the detailed explanation - I really appreciate!

That sounds good to me, so I will use 鋭橿 -さん for "Eiko-san" right?

And last question - just because I am curious: you suggested to write it in kanji. Is it theoretically possible to write given names also with Hiragana or Katakana?
Or is it only possible with kanji?
 

joadbres

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That sounds good to me, so I will use 鋭橿 -さん for "Eiko-san" right?

And last question - just because I am curious: you suggested to write it in kanji. Is it theoretically possible to write given names also with Hiragana or Katakana?
Or is it only possible with kanji?
I didn't suggest to write the name in kanji; you asked "would there be an appropriate kanji for that?", and I gave a recommendation based on that request.

...

In Japanese, anything that can be written in kanji can also be written entirely in hiragana or entirely in katakana. So, yes, it is theoretically possible to write given names in hiragana or katakana. In terms of official, legal ways of writing people names, pretty much all Japanese men write their names using only kanji. However, some women write their names in hiragana or with a mix of kanji and hiragana, and some women even use katakana, although this is not so common anymore. But ANY man's or woman's name can also be written in hiragana or katakana.

...

You mention the suffix "さん" in your latest post. This suffix of respect is not used in all situations. In Japan, the concept of "in-group" / "out-group" is used, in which you would not use a suffix of respect when referring to someone in your in-group while talking to someone in an out-group. So, for example, if you are a company employee talking about your business to someone outside of your company, and you mention the name of your co-worker, you would not use a suffix such as "さん" when saying your co-worker's name. Similarly, when talking about your own family members to someone outside of your family, you would not attach "さん" to the name.

With this in mind, I think it is best to leave off "さん" in your engraving. However, you can wait to see if anyone else posting here has an opinion on this.
 

cez

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Adding to the very detailed explanations, you should also consider that the Japanese version will not correspond to the German pronunciation of the name. German "ei" becomes [ai] while Japanese "ei" is [ē] (a "long" "e").
 

gridli

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Adding to cez' comment...it is generally quite strange to write a foreign name in Kanji. The accepted way to write Eiko in Japanese would be in Katakana to reflect the pronunciation, which would arrive at アイコ (in roman letters "aiko").
 

joadbres

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Adding to cez' comment...it is generally quite strange to write a foreign name in Kanji. The accepted way to write Eiko in Japanese would be in Katakana to reflect the pronunciation, which would arrive at アイコ (in roman letters "aiko").
Actually, there are quite a few foreign people who enjoy writing their names in kanji. Even as their legal, official Japanese names.

However, in this case the OP indicated that she is amenable to using hiragana or katakana, so your suggestion of writing the name as アイコ would be a nice, simple solution to this issue.
 
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