Translation of Japanese signs
January 3, 2011 4:42 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a translation of the following (presumably) Japanese sign(s) as displayed here Is there any correlation between the name written in English and the sign? It could also be helpful if anyone could point me towards a web resources where i can look up further Japanese letters etc. Thanks
posted by kampken to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
There are quite a few ways to read the character 吉 (which means 'fortune'). The most common that I know are 'yoshi', which is generally used in proper nouns and seen literally everywhere - people's names, town and area names, restaurants etc., and 'kichi' which translates to 'good fortune'. Also, I'm not sure that's actually English as it is seems to be written 'yoci'. Is 'ci' pronounced 'shi' in any European languages (I have no idea)?
posted by thesailor at 4:54 AM on January 3, 2011

Response by poster: Wow, that was actually pretty helpful :) Thanks!
Yoshi seems like a good bet, since Joci is pronounced in a similar manner.
posted by kampken at 5:06 AM on January 3, 2011

You're going to have trouble looking up Japanese/Chinese characters if you don't know anything about them, but this is probably your best bet: Find kanji by radicals. Click on the parts you see to narrow down the choices at the bottom, then click on the one that matches the character you're after.

Looking up hiragana and katakana will be even harder because they aren't modular in the same way; probably your best bet is to try to pick out what you see from the tables at Wikipedia (e.g. here).

But, as thesailor says, just because you know what characters are being used doesn't mean you'll know what they're supposed to sound like or mean...
posted by No-sword at 5:06 AM on January 3, 2011

When you have a kanji character as text already, for example if you can cut and paste it from a web site, Wiktionary is a good place to look up the meanings, for example .
posted by XMLicious at 5:29 AM on January 3, 2011

Yeah, seconding thesailor, one of the readings of 吉 is yoshi, but there are different ways of romanizing Japanese, though I can't see ci in yoci listed as a standardized romanization of し or shi, I can see si listed as an accepted romanization under the nihonshiki system, which is pretty close. It's easy to imagine that it's a non-standard romanization. 
posted by ultrabuff at 5:38 AM on January 3, 2011

Actually I just found out that if you type yoci in while using the IME editor, it's corrects よし (also romanized as yoshi), so it would appear ci is an accepted romanization. Wow the things we learn heh.
posted by ultrabuff at 5:44 AM on January 3, 2011

Response by poster: Cool, very nice links :) Thanks everyone
posted by kampken at 6:26 AM on January 3, 2011

It's not an accepted romanization. IMEs allow for a lot of weird input and shortcuts (Ls, Qs, and Xs all get converted to something, even though they have no place in any romanization system either). This romanization is just the sign-maker being clever.
posted by adamrice at 7:39 AM on January 3, 2011

Looking up kani by radical is basically the easiest accepted way for foreigners to look up japanese characters without knowing a lot about them, however scientific literature and personal experience have convinced me that if you don't know what you're doing, the experimental kansuke system is the easiest way to look up a japanese character.
posted by yeolcoatl at 9:40 AM on January 3, 2011

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