THE ORTHOGRAPHY AND PRONUNCIATION OF JAPANESE WORDS.IT is impossible to represent Japanese words exactly by any foreign alphabet; but a knowledge of the sounds heard in Japan, and by using letters which have each one invariable value, will enable a foreigner to reproduce Japanese names with tolerable accuracy. When the native authors and grammarians do not agree, absolute unanimity among foreign scholars is not to be expected; but. palpable absurdities, impossible combinations of letters, and mistakes arising out. of pure ignorance of the language may be avoided. The system given below, and used throughout this work, is, at least, rational, and is based on the structure and laws of combination in the language itself. This system is substantially (the differences aiming to secure greater simplicity) that of Hepburn's Japanese-English and English-Japanese, and of Satow's English-Japanese dictionary; the Romanized version of the Scriptures, published by the American Bible Society; of the "American Cyclopædia;" the revised editions of Worcester's, and Webster's, dictionary; in Brown's, Aston's, Satow's, Brinckley's, and Hepburn's grammar and works on the Japanese language; Monteith's, Mitchell's, cornell's, Warren's, and Harper's (American), and the Student's (English) geography and atlas; Mitford "Tales of Old Japan;" Adams " History of Japan;" the official documents of' the Japanese (Government, Department of Education, schools, and colleges; the British and American Legations and Consulates; the Anglo-Japanese press, and almost all scholars and writers who make accuracy a matter of concern.
The standard language (not the local dialect) of Tōkiō - now the literary as well as the political capital of the nation - is taken as the basis, and the word, are then transliterated from the katagana spelling, as given by the best native scholars. The vowels are sounded as follows:
|a has the sound of a in father, arm;||ua has the sound of ua in quarantine;|
|ai has the sound of ai in aisle, or i in bite;||e has the sound of e in prey, they;|
|i has the sound of i in pique, machine;||ei has the sound of ay in saying;|
|u has the sound of u in rule, or oo in boot;||o has the sound of o in bore, so.|
Long vowels are marked thus, ō, ; short vowels, î.
The combination nai is sounded as wai;iu as yu; E or é, as e in prey; but e, as in men;g always hard, and s surd, as in sit, sap.
C before a vowel, g as in gin, gem; l, q, s sonat; x, and the graphs ph and th, are not used.