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un blog bilingue en lojban et anglais · ein zweisprachiger Blog auf Lojban und Englisch
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2007-06-22

zoi py 硫黄島 py e nai zoi py 硫黄島 py co'e : It's 硫黄島, not 硫黄島

ni'o la'o zoi Guardian zoi gubjungau lo du'u le ponjo trugunma cu ca jundi le pu xabju noi pante ku'o gi'e bastygau zoi py Iōtō py zoi py Iōjima py to va'i zoi py Iwo Jima py toi

i le re cmene cu se ciska se pi'o le mintu ke ponjo lerfu to zoi py 硫黄島 py noi valsi fi lu sliri to zoi py 硫黄 py toi daplu to zoi py 島 py toi toi i so'e lo ponjo jugle'u cu lerfu fi su'o re lo se bacru no'u sa'u nai su'o ponjo e su'o jungo selcmu i le bi'u nai valsi zo'u le jungo selcmu terle'u be fi zoi py tō 島 py pu se bacru i ba bo le nolraitru blojenmi cu srera tcidu loi cartu ca'o lo nu zenba lo ni le daplu cu se badgau kei de'i li pa so vo vo i je bacru le ponjo no'u zoi py jima py i loi merko cu cilre fi le se go'i le nolraitru blojenmi

ni'o zoi zoi w zoi canci i ki'u bo lo go'i pu zu se bacru gi'e ba bo ru'i terle'u ma'i le ponjo slakyselyle'u e le latmo selyle'u be fi ri pu le galfi be le selyle'u bei de'i li pa so vo xa
The Guardian reports that the Japanese government has heeded the complaints of the former residents and changed the official name of Iōjima (Iwo Jima) to Iōtō.

Both are written identically in Japanese (硫黄島; the name means 'sulfur 硫黄 island 島'). Most Japanese kanji have at least two pronunciations: one native, and one based on the Chinese. In this case, the Chinese-based pronunciation of 島 (tō) was used until the Imperial Navy misread the maps during the 1944 build-up, and they used the native pronunciation (jima). The Americans picked up that pronunciation from the Imperial Navy.

As for the loss of the 'w', it reflects an archaic pronunciation that was retained in the Japanese kana and the Romanization until the 1946 writing reform.

Links:
Iwoto at Language Hat
Changing Roles of Katakana (and Italics) at Far Outliers

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4 Comments:

Blogger Dan Sallitt said...

Is there a general issue about whether Chinese or native pronunciations should be used in Japanese? Or are some words pronounced Chinese-style by convention and others native-style, and the Imperial Army just got this one wrong?

22 June, 2007 17:01  
Blogger komfo,amonan said...

The latter.

A look at a map of Japan shows that almost all the islands are called -jima (or -shima, the other native reading). Iōtō looks like an inconsequential island, tiny and very far from the main island Honshu. So it seems plausible that no one involved in the defense had heard it spoken, made a reasonable guess at the reading, and guessed wrong. There may be other, fameless islands with similar circumstances; we may see more changes.

A bad English analogy might be the sequence -ough-. We learn most of these words before we learn to write them, and we can guess the pronunciation of the ones we don't (I'm thinking I may have seen sought before I ever heard it). Then you run across the town Slough. That one you can look up, or get its pronunciation from the famous poem, or guess wrongly that it's pronounced like the verb slough. Then you run across Gough. I've known about the musician Damon Gough for years, but I've never heard his name spoken. And given his waning fame, it's possible I never will.

23 June, 2007 11:44  
Anonymous sen said...

Another analogy might be the way that a lot of English words have an adjective form derived from the Latin, like "cow"/"bovine", "nose"/"nasal". We don't think of "nasal" as a Latin word, even though it has a Latin etymology, unlike "nosey". Imagine the opportunities for confusion if we wrote with an ideographic system where "nosey" and "nasal" were written identically.

04 July, 2007 14:12  
Blogger komfo,amonan said...

Nice on'yomi/kun'yomi analogy.

06 July, 2007 15:50  

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