My name is Laurence. I would write this in Japanese as ロレンス (rorensu). My question is, when I introduce myself, do I pronounce my name as it is in katakana, or as it is in English?:

That is, would I say this:

Laurence です。 --> Laurence desu

or this:

ロレンス です。   --> Rorensu desu

This is just an example. I am also asking about all loanwords, for example:

Soccer が 大好き です。 --> Soccer ga daisuki desu


サッカー が 大好き です。 --> Sakkaa ga daisuki desu

To summarise, are Katakana loanwords pronounced as they are written in Japanese, or as they are pronounced in their country of origin?

  • 4
    You should definitely pronounce them as they're written. There have been a number of times when I've pronounced things as they're pronounced in English, and my Japanese friends had no idea what I was saying. Then I said it as it's written in katakana, and they understood just fine. Aug 8, 2014 at 12:38
  • As far as I know each spoken language has its own set of distinct sounds - phonemes. When we listen to an unfamiliar word we don't remember every sound like an audio recording, we remember which phonemes were used. If you pronounce a word without using phonemes that your listeners knows then the only way they could repeat it is by attempting mimic your exact pronunciation.
    – bdsl
    Jul 16, 2016 at 12:46
  • Japanese students of English often struggle with making and noticing the difference between several sounds that are used in English. It would seem unhelpful to expect people who are not attempting to learn a foreign language to deal with sounds that are not part of their own sound system.
    – bdsl
    Jul 16, 2016 at 12:51

2 Answers 2


As a general rule, yes loan words are pronounced just as they are written. I say general rule because I have noticed bilingual announcers on the radio who mix English and Japanese do sometimes insert the original pronunciation into their Japanese sentences.

As far as your name is concerned, yes it would be normal to say it as you write it in katakana: When you are trying communicate something on the phone, for example, you don't want people getting distracted with an unpronounceable name, or, off the phone, unwilling to talk to you because they can't say your name properly.

When people meet for the first time names are often an easy talking point, even among Japanese people who ask each other what Kanji they use.


In my experience it is best to pronounce your name as written, particularly if you are speaking over the phone, at a ticket booth, a checkout, etc.

However, if you are meeting with somebody on a regular basis, such as at work, you may find that they will eventually learn to speak your name properly. In that case, you can begin pronouncing your name normally when speaking to them.

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