Romanization of East Asian Languages

Use of East Asian Terminology and Scripts

Assume that your reader is intelligent but not necessarily literate in Chinese, Japanese or Korean. Never use untranscribed East Asian script. Keep the use of Chinese/Japanese/Korean terms in the text to a minimum. Always provide an initial translation, even if the translation is somewhat strained. The translation should be placed in separate brackets. Transcriptions should follow the systems listed below.

Romanization of Japanese

Romanization should follow the Hepburn System as used in the Nelson and Kenkyusha dictionaries. Other than very common names (e.g. Tokyo), long vowels should be written with a macron (¯) over ō and ū (and any vowel transcribed from katakana); long e (except in katakana words) should be represented as ei: 中国書道史 Chūgoku Shodōshi, インフレーション infurēshon, 明治 Meiji. Many fonts on the University network include these symbols (in Word, choose Insert, Symbol). If your word processing system cannot support
macrons, then you may use circumflex (ô, û) or put them in by hand.

Romanization of Chinese

Romanization should follow Pinyin with regard to the People’s Republic of China, though Wade-Giles may be used with regard to Taiwan. With regard to imperial China, you may use either system, though Pinyin is recommended, and you should ensure that you are consistent – don’t alternate between Wade-Giles and Pinyin just because some of your sources use one and others use the other. If in doubt, consult your module organiser.

Romanization of Korean

Romanization should follow the McCune-Reischauer system. The appropriate vowel marks called breves should be used on ŏ (어) and ŭ (으). The New Romanization System promulgated in 2000 by the Republic of Korea is not recommended – it is unpopular with Western academics who largely continue to use McCune-Reischauer.

People’s Names

East Asian names should be given in their conventional order: surname followed by given name, e.g. Hu Jintao (surname = Hu), Higuchi Ichiyō (surname = Higuchi). See below for exceptions.

Exceptions to the Above Rules

There are three main cases where other romanizations might (or should) be used:

  • When you are giving a direct quotation from a published work where a different scheme was used. In this case you should also indicate the more appropriate form in brackets on its first occurrence, e.g. Yedo [Edo].
  • When you are making a linguistic argument, a ‘phonemic’ or ‘historical’ romanization may be more appropriate to your argument. Kunreishiki and Yale romanization systems are more common than Hepburn and McCune-Reischauer in Japanese and Korean linguistics.
  • When you are transcribing the names of prominent Chinese or Korean people or places that are widely accepted in the West in different romanization systems, or even in a different variety of Chinese (e.g. Cantonese): Seoul, Syngman Rhee, Sun Yat-sen, Chiang Kai-shek. This also applies to also to names of individuals from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore or the Chinese diaspora who (as is often the case) have chosen their own ‘English’ versions: Tung Chee-hwa (Chief Executive of Hong Kong), Lee Teng-hui (ex-President of Taiwan).
  • The East Asian order of surname + personal name should be reversed to the Western order of personal name + surname in the case of authors who are writing in English and therefore have adopted the Western order in their articles or books, e.g. Masayoshi Shibatani (surname = Shibatani), author of the English-language book The Languages of Japan.