Tae Kim's Guide to Japanese Forum

To address questions and improvements for the Japanese Grammar Guide as well as topics concerning Japanese in general.

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#1 2012-05-07 18:04:53


Writing my name in katakana


My name is Enzo and I've tried to write this name out in katakana. According to the the katakana table, the following name seems to make sense (at least for me): 「エンゾ」

But Wikipedia disagrees... When I look the japanese article relating the Ferrari Enzo (the car), I can see that Japaneses write "Enzo" as follows: 「エンツォ」 and I read that as "Entso"

So, why Japanese say "Entso" despite it is possible to say directly "Enzo"?
Can I choose the writing of my name in this case?

Thank you for your attention.


#2 2012-05-07 19:13:08


Re: Writing my name in katakana

Japanese isn't based on letters.  It's based on phonetics.  While エンゾ may be the direct letter-to-Katakana rendering of your name, エンツォ is correct due to the fact that most "z" sounds in English are more of a d/tz sound.  The English "z" sound is made by placing your tongue against the part of your mouth where your front teeth meet your gums and allowing it to vibrate, while the Japanese "z" is made without allowing such contact.  Consequently, the Japanese "z" is much lighter than the English one, which is why the English "z" is sometimes turned into a "ts" sound in Katakana. 

Did that help?



#3 2012-05-07 20:35:40


Re: Writing my name in katakana

I think it has more to do with the Italian "z" than the English z, which actually is pretty much the same as the Japanese one, both being alveolar fricatives.

Italian pronounces their 'z' sound in several ways:


IPA    Words                              English word
ts     zozzo; canzone; marzo     cats

Is the relevant one.

If you want to follow the English pronunciation, you could easily put it as エンゾ. If you are actually Italian and pronounce it like Italians do, then you should follow the pronunciation of the car.

Last edited by Lyrencropt (2012-05-07 20:37:53)


#4 2012-05-08 07:28:05


Re: Writing my name in katakana

Ok Raulsen, I was confused because I didn't undestand that I had to translate my name in Japanese phonems, not in Japanese letters.
I'm French and since the French pronunciation of the /z/ is lighter than the Italian /z/, I think 「エンゾ」is the more appropriated form.
I've also check how to write Kenzo in Japanese, because the French "Enzo" is like the "Kenzo" and the result confirms 「エンゾ」.

Thank you smile


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