Do we have a standard way of representing long vowels in names/places? 

For example, when translating 蓬莱町 into English do we bother writing it as Hōraichō or just leave it as Horaicho?

The use of macron symbols (ā, ē, ī, ō, ū) appears to be standard in Wikipedia, but maybe it's only when we need to clarify the pronunciation... standard English readers wouldn't know how to interpret macrons I guess... Any thoughts welcome.


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    Vox Nipponica

    Macrons are used on Wikipedia for scientific reasons, that is to say, the overarching rules of Wikipedia discourage ambiguity. This is why IPA pronunciations are also listed next to all words, even though 99% of users will not read them or understand them.

    As for work on Gengo, the general rule of thumb, unless directed otherwise by the customer or a job-specific style guide, is to utilize a modified version of Hepburn romanization (http://www.sljfaq.org/afaq/hepburn.html). The glottal stops and use of apostrophe remain, but macrons do not. Macrons are generally tedious to manipulate, may not render on some environments, and are not understood by all readers. For this reason, they are counter-recommended.


    Except where it impedes reading, drop long vowels.

    E.g., ohayou → ohayo

    The above does not apply to established proper names (official Romanized names of municipalities).

    For repeated vowels where no precedent exists (not Internet-searchable), use your discretion to either repeat the vowel or use an H.

    E.g., 細尾 Hosoo OR Hosoh


    The above Romanization scheme is actually closest to what you enter into a word processor. If you type it as you would on a QWERTY keyboard before conversion, it is generally usable as-is in English. (cf. ワープロローマ字)


    All of this is a long way of saying that,

    1) macrons are to be avoided;


    2) Do not use native Japanese romanization schemes like Nihon-shiki or Kunrei-shiki


    In the example in your question, use Horaicho or Horai-cho. You can confirm that the latter appears more standard within that municipality through an Internet search.



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    Vox Nipponica

    I see that your question is directed specifically to place names.

    You can generally get away with referring to the train station signs at each place for what constitutes the semi-official corpus of translated place names. However, as above, the macrons are counter-indicated. I think a simple way of thinking of this is: rather than revert the macrons to long vowels, delete the bar from the macron rendering.

    東京→とうきょう(≒Toukyou) →Tōkyō→Tokyo

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    Thank you for the useful clarifications! The use of macrons is attractive because it disambiguates homonyms, but it is obvious that, in principle, diacritics have no place in the English language.

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