Laying down the law: The Romanisation Directive of 2007

I like rules. I like them so much that I’d make them up if they didn’t exist.

Masochism has no role in this – it’s all about a strong desire for order and consistency. Whether it’s brought about through the ballot box or at the point of a sword makes little difference to me. Heck, sometimes I prefer the sword: clean, cheap, efficient, and straight to the point. Pun well and truly intended.

More than three years ago, I decided that I’d had enough of waffling over whether I should spell something as “Ō”, “Oh”, “Ou”, or just plain “O”.

And so, in one of my occasional lunatic intervals, I coughed up Administrative Order No. 2007-001.

So much for the (partly) tongue-in-cheek preliminaries. On a less dramatic note, I thought it would be a useful (and entertaining) exercise to draw up a set of rules designed to whip my shoddy and inconsistent romanisation practices into shape. The Directive was not meant for publication; it was meant to serve as a private set of guidelines and nothing more.

In view of my own shifting preferences, some of the rules are in serious need of updating. For one thing, Section 6.2.3 is no longer in force. It was designed to help me remember the distinction between おお and おう, but now that I’m more comfortable with written Japanese I’ve shifted towards using the more aesthetically pleasing macron to denote the long vowel “o”. Section 11.3, while still in effect, now strikes me as a little inflexible (especially when it runs counter to the Japanese subject’s own preference for romanising their name).

I’ll also need to weed out a few typos. The romanised version of 涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱 below, for example, is one “u” short.

By and large, even though I’m still following most of the Directive, the changes that have happened in the last three years are significant enough to trigger Section 15.2. (Heh, I’m already looking forward to drawing up The Romanisation Directive of 2011.)

But for the record, I should point out that Section 16 was, is, and will forever remain in force. You have been warned.

On the other hand, if you are a Visitor as defined under Section 2, you can always hide behind Section 4. (At least until I close that gaping loophole.)

Enjoy the insanity. Cheerio.

********************

ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO. 2007-001

Sec. 1. TITLE. This Order may be cited as “The Romanisation Directive of 2007”.

Sec. 2. DEFINITIONS. The following terms are used in this Order with the meanings specified:
Author – This refers to the natural person (known as “Diego Coruña”) who founded the Blog (as defined below).
Blog – This refers to the web log titled ディエゴの日々 (Diego no Hibi), alternatively known as Anime Affairs, with the URL “https://animeaffairs.wordpress.com”.
Common-Use Form – This refers to the form most commonly used on web logs, articles, public forums and others.
Hepburn System – This refers to the Japanese romanisation system originally devised by James Curtis Hepburn and subsequently modified by others.
Japanese Text – This refers to names, titles, expressions and other text originally written or printed using Japanese characters (kana, kanji, or any combination thereof).
Official Sources – This refers to official websites, magazine articles, licensed English-language translations and other publications prepared and/or sanctioned by the original content producer. Within the context of this Order, sources in the Japanese language shall have precedence over sources in other languages.
Visitors – This refers to all active and passive users of the Blog other than the Author.

Sec. 3. OBJECTIVE. The objective of this Order is to prescribe a rational and consistent basis for the transliteration of Japanese Text from kanji and kana to the Roman alphabet for use on the Blog. To achieve this objective, this Order sets out the rules that should be observed whenever transliteration is carried out by the Author in the process of preparing material for publication. Guidelines for the use of transliterated Japanese Text in various contexts are also prescribed.

Sec. 4. SCOPE. This Order shall apply to all material prepared by the Author for publication on the Blog. Material contributed by Visitors (including comments) shall not be subject to the provisions of this Order unless otherwise agreed or specified; Provided, however, that Visitors may adopt some or all of the provisions of this Order at their own discretion.

Sec. 5. MODE OF ROMANISATION. The Hepburn System is hereby adopted as the standard mode of romanisation, subject to the specific rules and modifications set out in this Order.

Sec. 6. MODIFICATIONS TO THE STANDARD MODE OF ROMANISATION. The following modifications to the Hepburn System (including rules selected from variants of the traditional Hepburn System) are hereby adopted:
6.1. Syllabic n (“ん”) shall be rendered as n in all cases, even when located before vowels, the semi-vowel y and labial consonants. For example – ていん >> tenin, not ten’in; さぽ >> sanpo, not sampo.
6.2 Transliterated forms shall be derived in a way that accurately reflects the manner in which vowels are normally written in kana. The use of macrons and circumflexes to denote long vowels shall be avoided whenever possible. For this reason:
6.2.1. The long vowels a, i and u shall be indicated by doubling the vowel.
6.2.2. The long vowel e shall be indicated by ei or ee, as the case may be.
6.2.3. The long vowel o shall be indicated by ou or oo, as the case may be.

Sec. 7. TRANSLITERATION OF THE PARTICLE “を”. The particle “を” shall be rendered as “o” in all cases as prescribed by the Hepburn System, common usage notwithstanding. For example – 時かける少女 >> Toki o Kakeru Shoujo, not Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo.

Sec. 8. TRANSLITERATION OF WORDS OF FOREIGN ORIGIN. The following rules shall be observed:
Sec. 8.1. For Japanese Text in general, and especially for series titles, a word of foreign origin written in katakana shall be rendered using the nearest equivalent in its language of origin. For example – テニスの王子様 >> Tennis no Oujisama, not Tenisu no Oujisama; ハチミツとクローバー >> Hachimitsu to Clover, not Hachimitsu to Kuroobaa.
Sec. 8.2. Section 8.1 shall also apply to words of foreign origin written in hiragana. For example – らき すた >> Lucky Star, not Raki Suta.
Sec. 8.3. Sections 8.1 and 8.2 shall generally not apply to words of foreign origin that are treated as Japanese words or are used in a Japanese-language context. For example – アルバイト >> arubaito, not arbeit.

Sec. 9. GENERAL PRINCIPLES FOR THE USE OF TRANSLITERATED JAPANESE TEXT. The following principles shall be observed when transliterated Japanese Text is used in published material:
Sec. 9.1. As a rule, the transliterated form of Japanese Text shall have precedence over the translated English form. For example – in most cases, Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu should be used instead of The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi.
Sec. 9.2. In post titles, the translated English form of Japanese Text is generally preferred, whereas in the body of a post the transliterated form is generally preferred. For example – a post may have The Girl Who Leapt Through Time in the title and Toki o Kakeru Shoujo in the body.
Sec. 9.3. The transliterated form of Japanese Text is generally preferred for category names and tags.

Sec. 10. NAME ORDER. The following rules shall be observed:
Sec. 10.1. For Japanese names, the traditional Japanese order of family name + given name shall be observed, even in the translated English forms of Japanese Text. For example – The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, not The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.
Sec. 10.2. For Western names, the traditional Western order of given name + family name shall be observed.
Sec. 10.3. The ordering of other names (such as those of Chinese origin or mixed Japanese and Western/quasi-Western origin) shall be determined on a case-by-case basis, although prevailing naming conventions in an English-language context shall be respected whenever possible. For convenience, such names shall generally be rendered according to the manner in which they originally appear.

Sec. 11. EXCEPTIONS ARISING FROM OFFICIAL OR COMMON USAGE. The following rules shall be observed:
Sec. 11.1. When the transliterated form of an item of Japanese Text as published in Official Sources differs from the form derived through the application of the rules set out in this Order, the form used in Official Sources shall prevail; Provided, however, that if the transliterated form that complies with this Order is phonetically similar to the version used in Official Sources, the form that complies with the Order shall prevail. For example – 天上天下 = てんじょうてんげ >> Tenjou Tenge (Order-compliant form), not Tenjho Tenge (official form) on the basis of phonetic similarity.
Sec. 11.2. When the Common-Use Form of an item of Japanese Text differs from the transliterated form derived through the application of the rules set out in this Order to such a degree that the use of the latter form may cause a significant amount of confusion, the Common-Use Form shall prevail; Provided, however, that if the transliterated form that complies with this Order is itself widely accepted in the English-speaking world, or is sufficiently similar to the Common-Use Form such that any confusion resulting from the use of the former is expected to be limited, the form that complies with the Order shall prevail. For example – Ouran High School Host Club (common form), not Ouran Koukou Host Bu (Order-compliant form) on the basis of the latter’s unfamiliarity; Tennis no Oujisama (Order-compliant form), not (The) Prince of Tennis (common form) on the basis of the former’s relatively widespread use, in spite of the latter’s greater popularity.
Sec. 11.3. Names, as a subset of the term “Japanese Text” as used in this Order, are subject to the prescriptions of Sections 11.1 and 11.2; Provided, however, that preference shifts in almost all cases to the transliterated form derived through the application of the rules set out in this Order. For example – いとうのいぢ >> Itou Noiji (Order-compliant form), not Ito Noizi/Noizi Ito (official and common form).

Sec. 12. EXCEPTIONS ARISING FROM THE USE OF DIRECT QUOTATIONS. When material prepared by any party other than the Author is directly quoted on the Blog, whether in whole or in part, such material shall be exempt from the requirements of this Order. Material prepared by the Author and originally published outside the Blog shall enjoy the same exemption; Provided, however, that such material shall in all cases be examined for significant departures from the requirements of this Order and, where appropriate, modified accordingly.

Sec. 13. EXCEPTIONS ARISING FROM THE USE OF ILLUSTRATIVE EXAMPLES. Transliterated Japanese Text used as illustrative examples and other items of a similar nature shall not be subject to the requirements of this Order.

Sec. 14. DERIVATION OF TRANSLITERATED FORMS WHEN ORIGINAL SOURCE MATERIAL IS UNAVAILABLE. When the kana equivalent of an item of Japanese Text is unavailable, a romanised version shall be derived using pre-transliterated forms obtained from one of the following sources, in order of priority:
(a) Official Sources.
(b) Japanese-language references (e.g. the Japanese Wikipedia).
(c) English-language references (e.g. ANN, the English Wikipedia).
(d) Other acceptable sources as may be determined by the Author.
Any transliterated forms so derived are subject to modification in accordance with the rules set out in this Order.

Sec. 15. PROCEDURES ON AMENDMENTS. The following procedures shall be observed:
Sec. 15.1. Minor amendments to this Order that do not constitute a revision of the requirements and general principles thereof (such as, but not limited to, corrections of typographical errors and other emendations) shall be made directly to the text of the Order. An explanatory note setting out the general nature of the changes made and indicating the date on which said changes were effected shall be added to the text of the Order after the last paragraph.
Sec. 15.2. Major amendments to this Order that constitute a revision of the requirements and general principles thereof shall be set out in a separate Administrative Order. The amending Order shall include a provision modifying the title of the amended Order to indicate that changes have been made, preferably through the use of the words “as amended”. The text of the amended Order, incorporating all changes set out in the amending Order and including an explanatory note similar in form to that prescribed in Section 15.1, shall replace the previous version of the Order as published on the Blog.
Sec. 15.3 In all cases, a reference copy of the prevailing version of this Order shall be prepared and archived before any amendments are effected.

Sec. 16. SPECIAL PROVISION. Under no circumstance and at no point in time, whether in the past or in the present or at any point in the future, foreseeable or otherwise, and in no form of communication or publication now existing or hereafter invented, and in no place on Earth or anywhere in the known and unknown universe or any parallel universes or alternative planes of existence, shall the term Samurai X ever be considered an acceptable substitute for Rurouni Kenshin.

Sec. 17. TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS. In the process of adopting the prescriptions of this Order, the following transitional provisions shall be observed:
Sec. 17.1. Any category names and tags that do not meet the requirements of this Order shall be amended at the soonest possible opportunity.
Sec. 17.2. Any items on the “About”, “Catalogue” and “Neologisms” pages that do not meet the requirements of this Order shall be amended at the soonest possible opportunity.
Sec. 17.3. Any other material published before the promulgation of this Order shall be exempt from the requirements thereof; Provided, however, that amendments to bring such material into conformity with this Order should be made to the extent practicable.
Sec. 17.4. Drafts and other unpublished material shall automatically become subject to the provisions of this Order upon publication, even if substantial portions of such material were written prior to the Order’s promulgation.

Sec. 18. EFFECTIVITY DATE. This Order shall take effect immediately.

DONE in the City of [classified information] on the fourth day of August in the year of our Lord MMVII.

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