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I am Portuguese, and my name is João, which has a peculiar pronunciation that is very difficult for foreign people. It is the Portuguese equivalent to the English John, but the pronunciations are very different. If you see that Wikipedia page, it might help get a grasp of the correct pronunciation. However, I have no idea how this name would be represented in kana...

Does anyone know what might be the correct kana for this name?

Thank you.

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I heard the sound on Google Translate: translate.google.co.jp/#pt|ja|Jo%C3%A3o (Is this the correct pronunciation?) So it sounded to me like "ジョウン" or "ジョン"... –  user1016 Jul 11 '12 at 16:34
I am not sure if the pronunciation provided by Google is correct, because since some time now i cannot get the audio spelling function to work... the icon just doesn't appear... –  JNat Jul 11 '12 at 20:04
Ah... how about this site, then? forvo.com/word/jo%C3%A3o The first one (read by a woman from Portugal) sounds like ジョアン or ジュアン. –  user1016 Jul 11 '12 at 22:57
I'd probably try looking at how Wikipedia handles transliterating this name. –  Andrew Grimm Jul 13 '12 at 5:02
@Chocolate: yes, that's the sound –  JNat Jul 13 '12 at 13:24

3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Does anyone know what might be the correct kana for this name?

It is your name, so you are entitled to choose the correct kana.

However, there is historical precedent for ジョアン. There is a famous Portuguese missionary João Rodrigues who came to Japan in the late 16th century. He left several important books including "Arte da Lingoa de Iapam" (日本大文典) and "Arte breue da lingoa Iapoa" (日本小文典). In Japanese he is known as ジョアン・ロドリゲス. Hence, ジョアン is quite likely.

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Thank you. However, I think I should say that ジョアン doesn't sound nowhere near how it is pronounced in Portuguese. I find this interesting because I see that most names have a pronunciation similar (as similar as possible) to the native. I also find interesting the fact that you said I can choose my own kana. Is that really how it works? I mean, I know it is my name and I know how to pronounce it, but can/should I introduce myself to a Japanese person and say 'this is how you write my name in YOUR language'? –  JNat Jul 11 '12 at 15:34
Is something like ジュアウ or ジュナウ closer? Whatever your preference, stick with it. If you move to Japan, you will be given the chance to choose the katakana for your name. It needs to sufficiently plausible. Japanese, like English, belongs to no one. If you are going to live your life in a Japanese environment, then make it YOUR language, too. –  Dono Jul 11 '12 at 15:40
@JNat That is most likely because Portuguese itself has undergone sound changes. I am informed that "Joāo" was once "Joam" – which could well have been perceived as ジョアン by the Japanese. However, I am not sure when this sound change happened. –  Zhen Lin Jul 12 '12 at 5:09

Like the Poster "Dono" said, you can choose your own characters when you come to live in Japan and register as a temporary citizen. But, you need to be consistent in everything you register. If you register for one thing with a certain kana style, like a bank account, and then change your mind later and register for a credit card account with a different kana, they will NOT be able to link both names. So, you should think carefully and once you choose a combination, you need to stick with it forever (or else, you will face some nasty bureaucracy and problems). Also, you need to consider the easiness of typing that kana combination hundreds of times.

And like the poster above mentioned, there is indeed a strong precedent for ジョアン. I am Portuguese too, but my name is not Joao. You will not be able to transcribe the current Portuguese pronunciation of Joao successfully, I can guarantee that. If you move to Japan and follow this precedent, at least some more Japanese people will be able to remember and write your name, as opposed to you finding a more obscure combination of sounds. Even if you find it cute to create a more complicated combination of kana, this might work against you during your everyday life in Japan. So, once again, consider these things, and if you decide to go against the precedent, be consistent and stick with it until the end.

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Obrigado pela ajuda! –  JNat Oct 9 '12 at 13:39

I'd recommend you, just like some other contributors have said before, to stick to a simple and easy remembering combination, such as イオアウ or ジョアウ.

Those combinations resemble its real portuguese pronunciation and will give you less troubles when typing it, and registering everywhere.

Greetings from Colombia.

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Thanks for the help! –  JNat Oct 10 '12 at 18:17

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