Poem by Yoshio Mizui,
kaiten pilot who died on
August 10, 1945
Japanese to English translation requires various choices, since more than
one acceptable alternative may exist when translating meanings or when
transcribing Japanese characters into the Latin alphabet. When translating
material for this web site, I consulted the guidelines in the Japan Style
Sheet (1998) by the Society of Writers, Editors and Translators based in
Tokyo. However, this professional organization provides several
acceptable alternatives, depending on the audience. This page discusses my
decisions regarding a variety of translation issues.
My site uses the Hepburn system of romanization, since this system gives the
closest approximation of Japanese pronunciation. SWET (1998, 16, 20)
recommends the use of macrons (bars over vowels) to indicate long vowel
sounds in Japanese, but some Internet browsers, especially older ones, do
not render macrons correctly. Therefore, long vowel sounds for words other
than proper names are generally written on this web site as aa, ee, ii, ou (based on literal
transcription of Japanese characters used to indicate long "o"
sound), and uu. For example, bibliographic entries use this
convention for titles of books and other works.
Names of people, companies, and geographical locations follow a
different convention than the one described in the previous paragraph. For
example, based on widely accepted English usage, Toukyou is written as Tokyo, and
Ooita Prefecture is written as Oita Prefecture. Names of companies,
individuals, and geographical locations are shown with their preferred romanization, if known. I made Google
searches of names to try to determine preferred romanization. Some Japanese
names with an extended vowel "o" sound are written with "oh" if the person or
place uses this convention (e.g., Ohnuki-Tierney).
For some Japanese words and names that frequently appear in the history of
kamikaze, I reviewed English-language books and web pages to determine the
most frequently used transcriptions. One example will illustrate the
complexity of the choices. The ohka was a piloted glider bomb released from
beneath a mother plane and used in suicide attacks on Allied ships. The
"oh" signifies a long "o" sound in Japanese. Most
authors use ohka as the romanization, but others use oka (no indication of
long vowel), ouka (alternative romanization for long "o"), ooka
(another acceptable alternative transcription), or oka with a macron over
the "o." The use of italics and an initial capital letter also
vary between authors. After reviewing the various alternatives, I preferred
the romanization of "ohka" in lowercase letters without italics,
so this alternative has been used throughout this web site except for
quotations where someone uses another romanization. The same convention for
italics and capitalization has been used for kaiten (manned torpedo) and
shinyo (explosive motorboat), other types of suicide weapons used by the
Japanese military in World War II. Shinyo should technically be shown as
"shinyou" based on the previous guidelines, but I selected the
less technically correct romanization for use since other English-language
authors typically use shinyo.
Translation from Japanese to English for this web site involved several
other choices. Japanese names are shown in the Western order, with personal name first and
surname last. The syllabic "n" in Japanese is shown sometimes as
"m" before "b" and "p," since this convention
is most widely used for words such as "shimbun" (newspaper). Japanese words are generally not italicized,
except for titles of books and names of Japanese planes and ships. Multiple
readings of personal names often exist in Japanese, so every effort has been
made to determine correct readings by consulting reference sources. If the
few cases where a definitive reading could not be determined, I generally
used the most popular reading indicated by Google.
Society of Writers, Editors and Translators (SWET), Tokyo, Japan. 1998. Japan
Style Sheet: The SWET Guide for Writers, Editors and Translators.
Berkeley, CA: Stone Bridge Press.