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Katsushika Hokusai, Goten-yama hill, Shinagawa on the Tōkaidō, ca. 1832.jpg
Talk & archives for WP Japan

How hair-splitting should an IPA pronunciation guide be?

There are a couple of editors tag-teaming at editing ukiyo-e to turn the straightforward pronunciation guide [] to the hairsplittingly pedantic and less accessible [ɯ.kʲ], citing the guideline WP:PRON. The article is not a linguistics treatise and the pronunciation guide is meant ot do no more than prevent people from accidentally pronouncing ukiyo-e as []—the reader shouldn't be forced to click through to find out how to pronounce [ɯ] and [kʲi] just to be able to read the word. It appears there are IPA-pedants going around systematically making such changes to a large number of articles, making them less accessible to readers. What can we do? Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 05:58, 12 December 2017 (UTC)

The correct pronunciation is [ɯ]. It is certainly not [ɯ.kʲ] as き and きょ are not pronounced the same. ···日本穣 · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe · Join WP Japan! 07:14, 12 December 2017 (UTC)
Did you mean きよ and きょ? Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 11:37, 12 December 2017 (UTC)
No. I was using the examples at Help:IPA/Japanese, and pointing out how they are wrong. ···日本穣 · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe · Join WP Japan! 17:32, 12 December 2017 (UTC)
Nihonjoe: Not according to Help:IPA/Japanese, which is the weapon this pair is using to justify this (and which has a footnote that explains the Japanese u is neither [u] nor [ɯ]). One of them also claims the "correct" pronunciation is [ʔɯ̟ᵝʔ͡kʲijo̞e̞], with a couple of glottal stops thrown in ("`ukkyiyoe"?). Neither seems to care what representation most benefits the reader in the context. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 08:14, 12 December 2017 (UTC)
Irrelevant discussion
@Curly Turkey: You're continually refusing to raise the issue on Help talk:IPA/Japanese which you should've done in the first place. The level of your stubbornness is astonishing, and the fact that you continually dismiss me as a troll or a disruption is beyond pathetic. Keep thinking that you're capable of an adult conversation as you said on User talk:Nardog, that's only your problem. Mr KEBAB (talk) 09:56, 12 December 2017 (UTC)
Note: I'm ignoring Mr KEBAB, as he's been trolling me, making WP:POINT-y edits to a hidden comment, issuing constant personal remarks at me (as here), while refusing to engage in discussion (as here). Let's try to keep on topic in this discussion at the vey least. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 10:20, 12 December 2017 (UTC)
@Curly Turkey: You've been ignoring me all along, so that's not a change. At this point I'm writing a report to the admins, I don't give a damn if they ban me too. You're an abusive hypocrite that needs to be taught a lesson. Mr KEBAB (talk) 10:25, 12 December 2017 (UTC)
Just to set the record straight, [ʔɯ̟ᵝʔ͡kʲijo̞e̞] was an example to illustrate that [ɯ.kʲ] is already an abstraction based on phonological analysis rather than an impressionistic transcription, which the former is. I never claimed it was "correct" in any capacity. Nardog (talk) 11:08, 12 December 2017 (UTC)
I can see that now. Sorry to have misrepresented you. I've stricken that now. We're still left with the basic issue of accessibility that needs to be dealt with. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 11:35, 12 December 2017 (UTC)
  • Comment We should of course remember that the IPA being used is generally based on modern standard Japanese (Tokyo dialect). Giving overly specific IPA renditions like this is not only unhelpful to readers who almost certainly couldn't make head or tail of several of the more obscure symbols, but it is not even "correct" except in a very narrow and often anachronistic sense. We had a brief discussion about this on Talk:Kazuo Ishiguro a couple months back, but prescribing to our readers the specifically Tokyo pronunciation of the name of the British-raised son of two émigrés from Kyushu was really silly. Ukiyo-e is a little more of a grey area, since the standard Japanese pronunciation is the one most widely used in contemporary Japan, but it's really not the one that will be most helpful to our readers: only well-learned linguists (who would probably mostly agree that prescribing the Tokyo dialect pronunciation is not helpful) and Japanese-speakers (who don't need an IPA pronunciation key to begin with) could read it. Hijiri 88 (やや) 13:12, 12 December 2017 (UTC)
@Hijiri88: I'm curious (because I don't know that much about Japanese dialects): are there ways in which the transcription [ɯ.kʲ] is accurate for the Tokyo dialect but not for one or more other dialects? I have read on Wikipedia about differences in historical /zi, zu, di, du/ (yotsugana) and pitch accent (Japanese pitch accent), but those do not apply here. — Eru·tuon 22:39, 14 December 2017 (UTC)
I think Hijiri's generalizing from the Ishiguro case rather than this specific one; [ɯ.kʲ] is accurate for the dialects I'm most familiar with, but I live in the Tōkai region where the dialects are fairly similiar to Tokyo's. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 22:58, 14 December 2017 (UTC)
As I see it, the problem is not that the current Help:IPA/Japanese key is too "hair-splitting"―it's already about as simple as the IPA key for any other foreign language. Rather, it is that, since the sound system of Japanese is fairly straightforward and its writing system is highly representative of the sound, IPA may not be so useful for Japanese words as it may be for other languages, as Hijiri88 points out. If we made our IPA for Japanese phonemic, as Curly Turkey has insinuated, it would convey even less information than the romanization. So there is certainly an argument to be made against the use of IPA for Japanese words.
As for Ukiyo-e, if the purpose of the notation was to tell people that it's not pronounced the same way as Yukio Mishima's given name,[1] how about we add an English IPA transcription? The Routledge Dictionary of Pronunciation for Current English (p. 1426) has /ˌkɪjˈj/. It's not the perfect source, but at least it's non-OR. Nardog (talk) 09:44, 13 December 2017 (UTC)
@Nardog: What's wrong with it? It's a pronunciation dictionary like others. We can use it as a source. Mr KEBAB (talk) 10:39, 13 December 2017 (UTC)
To be clear, when I wrote the above quote I was looking for a reason for the pronunciation key to be included at all. In an ideal world, though, I honestly would prefer not to write articles while thinking of the people who pronounce it like "Yukio". So my first choice would be for no key at all, second choice either CT's original one or some (preferably sourced) English one included in a footnote, and either one included in-line in the lead as a distant third. But not the one Nardog gives above, which is clearly outdated; the only word that is still commonly written and pronounced that way that I can think of is yen. I've literally never seen or heard the name of that topic as "Ukiyo-ye"
In answer to Mr KEBAB's question: While I am not familiar with that particular source, it clearly is not a specialist work on Japanese art history, and the problem with using such sources is that oftentimes they use terms in a completely different sense than specialist ones would. Our haiku article discusses the classical Japanese poetic form that by definition must always include a season-word, rather than the word that is defined by Webster as an unrhymed (sic) verse form of Japanese origin having three lines (sic) containing usually five, seven, and five syllables (sic) respectively; also (sic) : a poem in this form usually (sic) having a seasonal reference. I actually don't know a whole lot about ukiyo-e relatively speaking, but I'm pretty sure western popular confuses the genre of ukiyo-e with "Japanese woodblock print images" (which definition would include a lot of other images but ironically exclude, for example, this).
Hijiri 88 (やや) 11:20, 13 December 2017 (UTC) (modified 03:14, 14 December 2017 (UTC))
"but at least it's non-OR"—the IPA given was not in any way OR, and [jeɪ] is not a correct English or Japanese pronunciation. In the context, following the kanji, the anglicized pronunciation is not appropriate. I'd like to see an explanation for why we should prefer [kʲi] to [ki] in the context—why this would best serve the general reader. I've asked this before, and nobody seems to want to engage with the question. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 13:15, 13 December 2017 (UTC)
Shit, CT's right. Regardless of how sourced Nardog's above English IPA spelling is, it is obviously not acceptable. Hijiri 88 (やや) 03:14, 14 December 2017 (UTC)
[jeɪ] is not a correct English or Japanese pronunciation Right, I wouldn't go so far as to say it's incorrect just to be not prescriptive, but it does indeed strike me as a pronunciation by someone who's not so familiar with how Japanese works. And this is why I said it was not "the perfect source" (along with the fact that the book is known for some quirks), to answer Mr KEBAB's question. It is also why I said "at least it's non-OR", so I never intended to imply that a Japanese notation would be OR, but I totally see why it could have been construed that way. Sorry for the misleading language. Nardog (talk) 17:57, 16 December 2017 (UTC)
Are there no reliable pronunciation guides? I checked Google Books and got /u:,ki:jau'ei/. But I don't see why any of these would be preferable to the IPA I gave—what I gave is easily mentally mapped to a reader's dialect. That's why it's good to keep these things maximally abstract—no pointless fighting over whether an o should be represented with an American [oʊ] or a British [əʊ]. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 13:26, 13 December 2017 (UTC)
I suppose you mean /uːˌkiːjəʊˈeɪ/, which Oxford Dictionaries also has and would be /ˌkjˈ/ in our diaphonemic system. Nardog (talk) 17:57, 16 December 2017 (UTC)
"If we made our IPA for Japanese phonemic ... it would convey even less information than the romanization."—I'm not following (and I'm pretty sure you're misinterpreting me). Please elaborate? Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 23:07, 13 December 2017 (UTC)
In a completely phonemic transcription, ふ fu and し shi would be /hu/ and /si/. Some linguists consider the consonants in ち chi and つ tsu to belong to different phonemes than that of た ta because [ti], [tsa], etc. are now possible articulations thanks to the influx of Western loans, but [hu] and [si] remain impossible for most speakers.
I know you didn't mean on my talk that we should make it completely phonemic, but I just brought it up trying to illustrate the impracticality of transcribing Japanese in IPA in an accessible yet reasonably precise manner. Nardog (talk) 17:57, 16 December 2017 (UTC)
Nardog: Japanese is coming to recognize to recognize the difference between /si/ and /ɕi/, though it hasn't yet become as universal as recognizing the difference between /ti/ and /tɕi/. You'll sometimes see /si/ written as スィ. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 00:06, 5 January 2018 (UTC)
I gotta say, I agree. Yes, there are people who, when they see a pronunciation key that begins with /u/ they will still pronounce it as though there was a "y" sound, but they are definitely in the minority. I actually don't know why so many people can't make a correct guess at how to read Hepburn romanization, but the mere fact of their being unable does not appear to be in dispute. Hijiri 88 (やや) 03:14, 14 December 2017 (UTC)
"I actually don't know why so many people can't make a correct guess at how to read Hepburn romanization": of course you can—most people have zero familiarity with Japanese. Why would they guess? As for ukiyo-ye, that comes from 絵 being represented by ゑ until the post-WWII spelling reforms. My understanding is it had ceased being pronounced [je] long before the West "discovered" ukiyo-e (possibly even before the Edo period, in which case it was never pronounced [je]), but that early scholars based their transcriptions on works by the Dutch or Portuguese from the late Sengoku period. The same thing lead to the funny spelling of Kwaidan, which again was no longer a current pronunciation at the time of publication (nor were these pronunciations even taught in school, if I'm remembering correctly). Routledge is not a 19th-century work, though, so I don't know what their excuse is. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 05:12, 14 December 2017 (UTC)
  • Nardog—this discussion seems to have petered out without reaching a conclusion. I want to clarify my position: it's already widespread within and without Wikpedia to use characters in IPA pronunciation keys that are not as precise as a scientist would prefer. The prime example of that is using ⟨r⟩ for English to represent what's usually a postalveolar approximant—this usage is near universal in dictionaries and other reference works. This is the same situation as presenting /ɯᵝ/ with a ⟨u⟩. You seem to have ceded the point on palatalization.
    The advantage of presenting "ukiyo-e" as [] is that it is sufficiently abstracted that one will naturally map those sounds to their English equivalents, regardless of dialect, and those familiar with Japanese phonology will naturally map them to their Japanese (dailect) equivalents. The representation isn't even "inaccurate"—it's merely (deliberately) imprecise.
    Now compare this to this—which best serves the non-specialist reader (Wikipedia's target audience)? Anyone looking for the precision of the latter is unlikely to come looking for it at Wikipedia in the first place. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 00:00, 5 January 2018 (UTC)
@Curly Turkey: Nobody is arguing against the use of [u] over [ɯ] because it's phonetically less accurate. We are against it because it's not in the Help:IPA/Japanese key. (The rest of this paragraph is essentially a paraphrase of WP:PRON based on my own interpretation. So I strongly recommend revisiting the guide too.) The thing is, if we used excessively precise phonetic transcriptions like [ɯ̟ᵝkʲijo̞e̞] everywhere, they would be completely unintelligible for most people, and thus rendered useless. On the other hand, if we allowed editors to use whatever symbols they saw fit, readers would have to decipher what sounds they represent every time they encounter a notation and there would be no consistency, again rendering the IPA useless. So it is only reasonable that we pre-define a simplified and unified set of symbols for each language based on its phonological system and use it exclusively. This is why the language-specific IPA templates link the notations to the respective keys, not to mention why the keys are made in the first place. Frankly, I suspect virtually every IPA notation on Wikipedia is gibberish to "non-specialist" readers. Japanese has a relatively straightforward phonological system so IPA notations for Japanese tend not to be über-complicated, but just take a look at Chechnya, Montenegro, or Copenhagen, for example (a totally random selection). Are these accessible to non-specialists? Certainly not. But we don't dumb them down by replacing them with whatever symbols the editor thought were "more accessible", because that would not only be unscientific and unencyclopedic, but also create inconsistency among notations in various articles and in turn render the IPA on Wikipedia as a whole useless. So what we do instead is link the notations to language-specific keys so readers will be able to figure out what phoneme/allophone each symbol represents and what kind of sound it is.
We use diaphonemic representation for English because readers of English Wikipedia are expected to have a certain amount of proficiency in English and thus an ability to "map" the representation to their own accent. But an IPA notation for a foreign language cannot possibly serve such a purpose since every language exploits a different set of sounds and phonetic features (stress, tone, length, voicing, aspiration, phonation...) to create differences in meaning. Rather, such differences are also important things to illustrate in notations so long as they do not compromise the intelligibility of them. So we want the IPA for foreign languages to be both reasonably abstracted and reasonably detailed. Or would you say, for example, we should use [f] instead of [ɸ] for Japanese f because it's more easily recognized by English speakers? But the substitution of English /f/ with [ɸ] is one of the first differences such people are likely to notice when they hear Japanese pronunciation of English loans. The use of [ɸ] rather than [f] helps signal such a cross-linguistic difference.
As for the use of [u] over [ɯ] for Japanese /u/, there may be an argument for it, but it is nonetheless the case that authorities such as Vance (2008) and Labrune (2012) opt for [ɯ] (but not [ɯ̟ᵝ], for example) even in relatively broad phonetic transcription (phonetic transcriptions can be narrow or broad, see IPA Handbook, p. 29). Tokyo Japanese /u/ is described by Vance as compressed in careful speech and slightly compressed or simply unrounded in "connected speech at normal conversational tempos", and by Labrune as flat-out unrounded. So to use [u] would be definitely inaccurate as far as phonetic representation of Tokyo Japanese /u/ goes. It can also be very fronted, yielding essentially the same effect as unrounding in acoustics. So the pronunciation of Japanese /u/ as anything other than [ɯ~ɨ] will most likely sound strikingly off to native ears, the same way pronouncing English /f/ as [ɸ] would to English-speaking ears. Now I realize this may not always be the case in other parts of Japan, but like it or not, it is still the case that even the most descriptive dialectological account of a language has to establish a standard variety as a reference point, be it Received Pronunciation, General American, Parisian French, or Tokyo Japanese―describing the fact that there is a standard variety is also part of being descriptive, again like it or not. This is why we use [ʁ] for French /r/ even though the realizations vary, and why we don't record certain phonemic splits found in some varieties of English. So you may propose that we use [u] in place of [ɯ] at Help:IPA/Japanese if you like, but I for one think the notation [ɯ] is well established and it's a cross-linguistic difference worth recording, so I would be opposed to it. And until it gains a consensus, [ɯ] in existing IPA-ja notations must stay. Nardog (talk) 14:09, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
Nardog: we're talking at cross purposes again. You're citing phonology texts, which is not the context we're aiming at. As to how "strikingly off" it sounds to native Japanese speakers for a non-native to pronounce [ɯ] as [u] or [ɸ] as /f/—we'd need a native speaker to confirm, but my twenty years experience in Japan tells me those are some of the least likely L2 mispronunciations to cause communication problems, and many J-speakers have told me they can't even hear the difference between [ɸ] and /f/. But again, context: the ukiyo-e article is not trying to teach Japanese phonology, but give a rough guide to pronunciation to that majority of readers who will likely never think to learn Hepburn, because their interest is not language but the visual arts. Forcing readers to click through to Help:IPA/Japanese just so they can figure out how to pronounce the title of the article is a disservice to the reader—the layreader, who is Wikipedia's target audience. The pronunciation guide then becomes a burden to the reader, interfering with the reading experience where it was supposed to help.
There are contexts in which [ɯ̟ᵝ] is most appropriate, others in which [ɯ] is—and others in which they both miss the point. We don't disallow [ɯᵝ] in all contexts simply because that's not the representation provided at Help:IPA/Japanese, do we?
(A further problem with "English" pronunciations is that they all seem to do it differently: we have two conflicting sources above, and both conflict with the pronunciation I'm used to—every flesh-and-blood English speaker I know stresses the penultimate syllable.) Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 22:28, 12 January 2018 (UTC)
We don't disallow [ɯᵝ] in all contexts simply because that's not the representation provided at Help:IPA/Japanese, do we? Yes we do, at least ones enclosed in {{IPA-ja}}. I've removed the diacritics at Shōgun.
Again, most IPA notations are indeed gibberish to the layreader. But giving editors a room to improvise jeopardizes the consistency among IPA notations and hence the IPA as a whole―a reader who've learned what [ɯ] represents by clicking the link will be confused when seeing [u] in another article and mistakenly think it might represent a different sound. Nardog (talk) 02:19, 13 January 2018 (UTC)
Nardog: "Again, most IPA notations are indeed gibberish to the layreader."—Again, I've brought this up already, but IPA is in wide use in many parts of the world. My children's junior high school textbooks are chock full of it (would you like me to email you some scans?). There are many millions of layreaders who are familiar with subsets of IPA.
If you really think that only experts should be familiar with IPA, then you should be advocating their removal—as well as the {{IPA-ja}}-related templates—as jargon inappropriate to the lead of any Wikipedia article, whose target audience is layreaders. Which would render Help:IPA/Japanese et al. useless as well. If this is not your position, then I'm having the hardest time figuring out just what is.
"... a reader who've learned what [ɯ] represents by clicking the link will be confused when seeing [u] in another article ...": Will they really? And is that even the point? I've already brought this up—any reader familiar with Japanese phonology will correctly map [u] to [ɯ] without thinking about it, and readers who are not familiar with Japanese will not lose anything the lack of precision, which would regardless not result in any communication difficulty. These same readers will be put out if they have to click through to the Help page to find out what the symbol represents, just to get through the lead—it's a lightweight pronunciation guide, not a language lesson.
The Help page provides the strangest help, while we're at it—the "English approximation" of [ɯ] is given as "food. That page tells us that [ɯ] is pronounced similar [uː], while you're telling us the page's purpose is to dispell that. Curly "JFC" Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 04:28, 13 January 2018 (UTC)


I have a book of old Japanese woodblock prints. Would photos of it / them be good for Wikipedia? Benjamin (talk) 05:23, 31 December 2017 (UTC)

@Benjaminikuta: It may be better for Commons. ···日本穣 · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe · Join WP Japan! 20:03, 2 January 2018 (UTC)

2018 in Japanese music

This page has been created. Feel free to add to it and expand it. ···日本穣 · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe · Join WP Japan! 22:20, 6 January 2018 (UTC)

Also these pages:
···日本穣 · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe · Join WP Japan! 22:50, 6 January 2018 (UTC)

List of 2018 box office number-one films in Japan

This page has been created, though it's still a few hours until they announce the numbers. ···日本穣 · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe · Join WP Japan! 23:20, 6 January 2018 (UTC)

GAN: Hachijō-jima

There's a Good article discussion happening at Talk:Hachijō-jima/GA1, and you're invited to participate. Thanks! ···日本穣 · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe · Join WP Japan! 00:55, 13 January 2018 (UTC)

Please come and help...

Greetings! I have recently relisted a requested move discussion at Talk:Akaike Station (Nagoya)#Requested move 5 January 2018, regarding a page related to this WikiProject. Your opinion and rationale are needed so a decision can be made. Thank you and Happy New Year to All!  Paine Ellsworth  put'r there  10:47, 13 January 2018 (UTC)

Latest lists of international schools approved by MEXT?

I'm trying to find the latest lists of overseas Japanese schools (在外教育施設) approved by MEXT. is supposed to link to lists of the three types, nihonjin gakko (日本人学校) (day schools operated by Japanese associations), hoshu jugyo ko (補習授業校) (supplementary/weekend schools operated by Japanese associations), and shiritsu zaigai kyoiku shisetsu (私立在外教育施設) (foreign branches of Japanese private schools), but each link 404s.

Thanks, WhisperToMe (talk) 17:24, 13 January 2018 (UTC)

Those pages have been saved at the Wayback Machine:
  • 日本人学校の概要,
  • 補習授業校の概要
  • 私立在外教育施設の概要.
The above links are to the latest archives, from 2013–2015. After that the links become 404s. Also I'm not sure if we can go so far as to say that these schools were approved by MEXT. It might be more in the nature of a survey. – Margin1522 (talk) 00:08, 14 January 2018 (UTC)
There is a link to (4)認定した在外教育施設 in that page. See also (5)過去に指定・認定していた在外教育施設 .―― Phoenix7777 (talk) 00:40, 14 January 2018 (UTC)
Thanks for finding these! Gtranslate states "認定した在外教育施設の一覧" means "List of certified overseas education facilities". For Keio Academy of New York it states "○指定(未認定)私立在外教育施設" = gtranslate: "○ Designated (uncertified) Private foreign education facilities" - Seems "designated" is a better usage even though only that one school is uncertified.
Sadly these 4 and 5 lists only have the full-time schools, not part-time ones. I'm interested in seeing if MEXT has designated or certified any additional hoshukos.
WhisperToMe (talk) 05:10, 14 January 2018 (UTC)
Hoshukos cannot be certified or designated, because overseas educational institutions are "certified" ("designated") if they can provide the "equivalent" ("comparable") curriculums to that of full-time domestic schools. See 「私立在外教育施設は、文部科学大臣から、国内の小学校、中学校、若しくは高等学校と同等の課程(equivalent curriculums)を有する旨の認定(certified)又は、相当の課程(comparable curriculums)を有する旨の指定(designated)を受けており、私立在外教育施設の中学部の卒業者は国内の高等学校の入学資格を、高等部卒業者は国内の大学の入学資格をそれぞれ有しています。―― Phoenix7777 (talk) 06:58, 14 January 2018 (UTC)
Interesting! I am aware that hoshukos do receive money and teachers from MEXT, so I'm unsure how they list/vet the schools... Does MEXT still keep a list? Also Penang Japanese Saturday School stated "In July 2013, we were successfully registered with the Registry of Society (ROS) in Malaysia. Our ultimate goal is to get an approval and funds from the Japanese Ministry of Education." WhisperToMe (talk) 14:49, 14 January 2018 (UTC)
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