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JLBadgley
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 1:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Akaguma wrote:
I don't think there is this many kanji that have been created since Edo jidai, besides maybe their simplified form that have been standardized since WW2.
There are some kanji that have been created ou derived more or less recently to translate Western concept. Such as metric system kanji (粍 millimetre, 糎 centimetre, 粉 decimetre, 米, metre, 籵 decametre, 粨 hectometre, 粁 kilometre, and so on with 瓦 gramme, and 立 litre) that have been created in early Meiji era, I presume.


The kanji (or hanzi) existed, but they came to be used in another way.

What you are more likely to run into is that certain kanji were written differently. Since this is mostly a font issue, I wouldn't worry about it unless you are into really obscure kanji puns that require the original elements. Otherwise, you can just as easily use 竜 or 龍, for instance, as it would fit.

Besides, are you talking about writing this in Japanese? If not, I would hardly devote energy to the kanji as much as to the setting.

-Josh


Last edited by JLBadgley on Fri Feb 13, 2009 4:31 am; edited 1 time in total
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Matsuhide
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 4:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Matsuhide wrote:
The names would be written in romanji and just Japanese-sounding to the typical reader, with foot(or other)notes indicating the kanji for those willing to look into it and get some additional insight into the character(s).


So in a way the kanji used are relevant to the setting. It's more about pinning down certain essential elements of the character(s), though definitely not of key importance. It's just an element I wanted I wanted to get some clarification on for future reference. Very Happy

And while this story does take place in the Edo period, making potential problems with kanji selections less likely, others may be earlier.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2009 5:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Matsuhide wrote:
I'm still unsure though just how realistic these names are within the real Japanese language. I want to make sure we're not taking too large liberties and that's why I'd really appreciate it if Ashigaru would explain why the earlier listed names seemed "far fetched"?

To me, they seem far fetched in the sense that they come across as "trying too hard". Several of the kanji you picked seem like unlikely choices for use in names.

Quote:
I want to make sure we're not bastardizing the language and ending with results similar to a New Yorker yelling out "Hey, there goes Spider-bitten-radioactive-hero!"

Actually, you're pretty close to that, I think.

Quote:
I think things also can get even more dangerous when in a historical setting as you'd obviously want to avoid kanji that may not yet have developed. Is that a legitimate concern? If so does anyone know of dictionaries etc. that also list characters' origin periods?

I rather doubt that would be a concern. If anything, you'd want to be more careful with a story set in modern-day Japan not to overuse kanji that have fallen out of use.

What you might have to worry about with a historical setting is the literacy level of the people picking these punny nicknames.
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Matsuhide
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2009 8:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Philippe wrote:
To me, they seem far fetched in the sense that they come across as "trying too hard". Several of the kanji you picked seem like unlikely choices for use in names.

That's part of what I'm trying to get at. I know there are certain kanji that are specifically used for (common) names, and am trying to figure out how far from those people could stray for nicknames or when new terms are invented. I definately don't want to take things too far, and it seems I might be.
But, what makes a kanji a less-likely choice for a name (besides not typically being used in a name) when it has a phonetic pronunciation that fits within an existing term (or name)?
Philippe wrote:
What you might have to worry about with a historical setting is the literacy level of the people picking these punny nicknames.

I think you've hit a very important nail on the head here, Philippe, and I appreciate your honesty! Though I think I could figure out several ways to overcome that...


As far as the earlier listed names coming off far-fetched or cheesy, could that be because they're mostly nominal characters combined?
They were quick examples to try and illustrate my question.
Let me offer instead some specific examples I have been considering:

One of the more recent ones I've been pondering is calling the assassin "chounin" ("彫人"), being of course a pun on 町人 and implying both his technique and his origins.

Another is a blue-clad ninja called "aotonbo" ("青蜻蛉", or "blue dragonfly").

Another would be their master/employer whom they know as Lord (I'm working on the exact title...) "Haetata" ("蝿叩", "the fly-swatter").

One more extreme example would be "心恒 恥乳" ("Shintsune Chichi"). This one would probably be far-fetched, but maybe the back-story would clarify. This character is a female komusou monk who became that after a life in brothels from a young age. She "developed" early, but one of her clients was into "undeveloped" girls, resulting in him attempting to cut her breasts off. He succeeds in slicing off one, but the trauma awakens a fighting spirit within her from a past life (a whole other story...) resulting in her killing him. She escapes and takes refuge within a hinin camp where she is called simply chichi, or "the breast" (乳, though does this kanji imply plural?). From there she eventually enters the fuke sect, etc. and changes her name, but keeping the pronunciation. So, in theory, her name would translate to "Fixed-mind Desecrated-breast." Don't even get me started about the fact that she's a female monk...
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Ashigaru
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Matsuhide wrote:
One of the more recent ones I've been pondering is calling the assassin "chounin" ("彫人"), being of course a pun on 町人 and implying both his technique and his origins.


How would people "get" the pun? Does he write his name Zorro-style or something? Dude seems preoccupied with coming up with dramatic and clever nicknames for himself. Either that or yellow journalists know enough about his background to come up with the nickname for him.

Quote:
Another is a blue-clad ninja called "aotonbo" ("青蜻蛉", or "blue dragonfly").


Sure, why not, assuming your setting assumes cinematic pajama ninja. It's no sillier than Tobizaru (飛猿).

Quote:
So, in theory, her name would translate to "Fixed-mind Desecrated-breast."


Kinda goofy. Ignoring the linguistic improbability, I'd have to wonder about a woman who calls herself "Shameful Boobs." Taking on a religious name in particular is usually a sign of disassociating oneself from the vulgar mundane world. Seems like using an unpleasant nickname from her previous life would be counterproductive.

Does everybody in your setting have a punny supervillain name? Some of these names conjure up old comic book tropes ("Everyone laughed at me when I was a child because I was short and stout, with a prominent nose! But they won't laugh at THE PENGUIN!!"). If that's what you're going for, that's fine.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2009 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Ashigaru wrote:
Either that or yellow journalists know enough about his background to come up with the nickname for him.

That's some degree of what I have in mind. There's kind of a broader social undercurrent behind his master's motives, including the set up of a potential "fall-guy".

Ashigaru wrote:
Ignoring the linguistic improbability, I'd have to wonder about a woman who calls herself "Shameful Boobs." Taking on a religious name in particular is usually a sign of disassociating oneself from the vulgar mundane world. Seems like using an unpleasant nickname from her previous life would be counterproductive.

I failed to mention that she didn't choose this name, her master did, and somewhat for the purpose of embracing aspects of her former life. Also this version would be a transitional one, with a less vulgar, more meaningful one to follow if she matures.
Please elaborate on the linguistic improbability of such combinations, that's the heart of what I'm trying to understand and avoid!

Ashigaru wrote:
Does everybody in your setting have a punny supervillain name? Some of these names conjure up old comic book tropes ("Everyone laughed at me when I was a child because I was short and stout, with a prominent nose! But they won't laugh at THE PENGUIN!!"). If that's what you're going for, that's fine.

With the exception of the block-cutter assassin (who's story I intend to write in prose), the characters are intended for a comic book so that is indeed the flavor I am going for, embracing that element of the medium. But I also want some element of realism. I intend to balance on the fine line between the two, and the more I understand how some of these elements work the more informed choices I can make.

Thanks again! Very Happy
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JLBadgley
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2009 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Matsuhide wrote:
I failed to mention that she didn't choose this name, her master did, and somewhat for the purpose of embracing aspects of her former life. Also this version would be a transitional one, with a less vulgar, more meaningful one to follow if she matures.
Please elaborate on the linguistic improbability of such combinations, that's the heart of what I'm trying to understand and avoid!


My best advice is look up names. Lots of them. Find names of people in similar positions to the ones in your story. There's a book out there called Name Construction in Medival Japan by Solveig Throndardottir. It does not cover the Edo period much, but it is the most detailed listing of names I'm aware of in English, given by period (earliest period she found them). It is meant for folks in reenactment groups, like the SCA, but would be equally applicable to writers of historical fiction.

Also look up Japanese Names and How to Read Them by Albert Koop & H. Inada. This one also has a lot of good resources on different names, although I don't believe it has as much on periodization of names, which is probably not so important to you.

There are also many "Name Dictionaries" in Japanese that you could look at.


Regarding the nun(?) character, most religious names have to do with the teachings of the Buddha. It just seems extremely improbable that any teacher would give someone a name that specifically reminds them of their past, because that creates a bond, which is what you are trying to rid yourself of. Rather, names usually are something to strive towards, I'd say, or perhaps a positive spiritual quality.


-Josh


(Edit- fixed quote attribution. -Ashi)
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Ashigaru
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2009 10:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Matsuhide wrote:
Please elaborate on the linguistic improbability of such combinations, that's the heart of what I'm trying to understand and avoid!


What you're asking isn't easy. Barring obvious issues with names (unpronounceable or obscene), whether or not a name feels "off" or not often depends on accumulated knowledge about the Japanese language and culture. There aren't really any rules I can point you to. "Engelbert Humperdinck" seems to me like a pretty unrealistic name and yet it exists.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Matsuhide wrote:
From there she eventually enters the fuke sect, etc.

Isn't Fuke sect only allowed to bushi, especially during Edo period ?

Quote:
Please elaborate on the linguistic improbability of such combinations, that's the heart of what I'm trying to understand and avoid!


Usually, try not to mix on and kun readings. Of course, there is a lot of names which does, but it may be better not to.
For example 心恒 恥乳 "Shintsune Chichi" (ON, kun)
心 SHIN, kokoro, mune
恒 KÔ, tsune, nobu
恥 CHI, haji
乳 NYÛ, chi, chichi
So 心恒 can be either SHINKÔ or Munetsune. Though "Fixed-mind" would rather be 恒心 KÔSHIN, Tsunemune, or even Tsunemi and Hisami. Of course, all those names do sound more like given names than family names)
And 恥乳 : CHINYÛ or Hajichi, Hajiji. (poor girl, to be named like that... by a monk, on top of that ! Shocked Wink )

Monks names tend to be in on readings.
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Matsuhide
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thanks all of you guys for your extremely helpful input! Thumbs up

I get what you're saying about names not sounding right. But I think that applies much more to actual names rather than nicknames, or am I wrong? To me, of the names mentioned, Haetata and Aotonbo "sound" the most realistic.
I knew that the nun's (or chi, as I call her) name is pretty far-fetched, but if I were to change the pronunciation of the aforementioned name would it sound more realistic?
Akaguma wrote:
Monks names tend to be in on readings.

Makes sense, the Chinese influence on Buddhism!

Part of the reason that her master wants her to embrace her past is the influence her past life is having over her current one and that trying to ignore or cover it up seems to make it manifest all the more. So he is attempting to more-or-less exorcise that influence through catharsis, and she will earn more "honorable" titles as she progresses. As for wether bushi were the only ones allowed into the sect, I'm not entirely sure at this point. But if that weren't an issue her sex likely would be. However, her master isn't worried about such issues. In case you haven't noticed these characters are a bit eccentric, and plus, she was not only a male but a bushi in her last life so... Wink

Speaking of eccentricities; while, no, the block-carver-assassin doesn't sit around all day trying to come up with clever/dramatic nicknames, his Lord might. For instance; he calls his chamber maid "大便指," his favorite concubine "糖口唇," and his doctor "小突き医," just to name a few...
I am, of course, joking. But I do think we like to read/write about the exceptions more than the norms, and I don't think having a few eccentrically-nicknamed characters over the course of ~6,000 years (in the case of the comic) is really all that extreme.
I just want to make sure that when I do employ such names they are technically feasible, even if not necessarily "tasteful."

Again, I fully appreciate all of your input and criticism. I definitely consider it constructive criticism and would much rather address it now, in the creative process, than after the fact! Very Happy
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JLBadgley
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Matsuhide wrote:
I get what you're saying about names not sounding right. But I think that applies much more to actual names rather than nicknames, or am I wrong? To me, of the names mentioned, Haetata and Aotonbo "sound" the most realistic.
I knew that the nun's (or chi, as I call her) name is pretty far-fetched, but if I were to change the pronunciation of the aforementioned name would it sound more realistic?


Have you read The Tale of Genji, in translation or otherwise?

That book is full of nicknames (in fact, that's about all you get--nicknames or titles). Here are the kinds of nicknames you get out of there:

Hikaru Genji ("Shining Genji")
Murasaki ("Purple")
Yuugao ("Evening Face" aka a type of flower that adorns her mansion)
Lady Rokujo (The lady whose mansion is on 6th avenue)
Fujitsubo (the lady living in the wing with the wisteria--the fujitsubo)
etc.

If you want nicknames, this is the place.

Also check out "Japanese Tales" by Royall Tyler and others. Hearn's stories would be good, to. Names like Miminashi Houichi (Ho'ichi the Earless) and others may give you some good Japanese name fodder.


-Josh
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Matsuhide
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I just happen to own all of those (haven't gotten around to reading Genji yet though), thanks!
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I found a helpful site on this topic (in a broader sense):
http://www.sengokudaimyo.com/miscellany/names.html
(edit: I thought it seemed familiar, it's from AJBryant's page to which he posted a link in another thread some time ago. Thanks again for the helpful info Tony!)
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