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In スーパー大辞林 I found:

ウインドー [0] 〖window〗 (1)窓。 (2)ショー-ウインドーの略。陳列窓。 (3)コンピューターのディスプレー画面上で情報の表示されている部分。画面をいくつかの部分に分割し,それぞれに異なった情報を表示する方式をマルチ-ウインドーという。

In Wikipedia I found:

Microsoft Windows(マイクロソフト ウィンドウズ)は、マイクロソフトのオペレーティング システム (OS) の製品群。

Questions:

  1. Is the katakana writing (in some cases, even pronunciation, e.g. ウイ v.s. ウィ) for loanwords (especially new words) in Japanese kind of unsettled/arbitrary?

  2. If it is not that arbitrary, is there any guideline for Japanese learners when they have to choose between, say, 「ドー」 and 「ドウ」?


和訳

スーパー大辞林には、

ウインドー [0] 〖window〗 (1)窓。 (2)ショー-ウインドーの略。陳列窓。 (3)コンピューターのディスプレー画面上で情報の表示されている部分。画面をいくつかの部分に分割し,それぞれに異なった情報を表示する方式をマルチ-ウインドーという。

とありますが、ウィキペディアには、

Microsoft Windows(マイクロソフト ウィンドウズ)は、マイクロソフトのオペレーティング システム (OS) の製品群。

とありました。

質問ですが、

  1. 日本語の外来語(特に新語)のカタカナ表記は(あるいは、「ウイ」と「ウィ」の場合とかは、発音も)、揺れや人の好みで変わるのですか?

  2. 好みでないとしたら、日本語の学習者が「ドー」と「ドウ」のようなものをどう使い分けるか知るための基準などはありますか?

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Transcription from other languages usually has some arbitrariness, and there are no consensus everyone can agree on. Jawp community has also struggled to build a rule, but the actual management is conducted by first making the article, creating redirects towards that one name, then discussing renaming when someone finds it necessary. As long as you stick to one expression (or one rule --- some sensible readers might be slightly annoyed to find out "フォルダ" (folder) and "ブラウザー"(browser) used in the same document. Me, for one;)), it does not usually matter whichever expression you use.

Things to consider in the "arbitrariness" here:

  • There are words that are melt into Japanese vocabulary, and thus almost never used in other forms. Examples include 「ペンギン」(although it sounds more like 「ペングウィン」).
  • For proper nouns, there is usually one fixed expression.
  • Sometimes one expression is more widely used than the others per convention. In such cases, one can still use either without sounding odd. I don't think ウィンドウ/ウィンドー is a typical example of these, because there are enough examples of 「ウィンドウ」used to describe a (glass-made) window ([1], [2], [3]).
  • There are sometimes conventions kept in specific specialities. One famous example is in the technology/computer science field, where the 「ー」's that correspond to "-er", "-or" are usually omitted. Examples include 「オペレータ operator」,「コンパイラ compiler」, 「ベクタ vector」 etc. These are not strict either.
  • There are cases one expression makes different impression from others. 「ストライキ」 and 「ストライク」 mentioned by @kmk is the extreme case. 「インキ ink」might sound old-fashioned (「インク」 is used instead), because the former expression was dominant several decades ago[citation needed]).
  • Although I refer to it as "arbitrariness", there are general rules and conventions behind these transcriptions. One does not simply write down how it sounds (usually). Some people prefer to do so (try to imitate the original pronunciation as faithfully as possible), and they are sometimes called 原音主義.

Choice between several expressions is, depending on the word, difficult for a Japanese, too. You can usually consult a dictionary. Searching for the expression (with "quotes") in google and seeing i) the usuages and ii) how many results each expression returns is a good idea, too.

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日本語の外来語(特に新語)のカタカナ表記は(あるいは、「ウイ」と「ウィ」の場合とかは、発音も)、揺れや人の好みで変わるのですか?

First of all, about this your question, it seems to me we do pay much attention regarding how to "spell" and how to "pronounce".

For example, this person is using ウィンドウズ。 http://detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q14128374314

And this person uses ウインドウズ。 http://detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q10130525720

And both are pronounced as u - i - n - do - u - zu.

However, from my personal experience, from realllly my personal experience, I have seen more smaller ィ than large イ, as a spelling way, again personally.

Onto your next question.

好みでないとしたら、日本語の学習者が「ドー」と「ドウ」のようなものをどう使い分けるか知るための基準などはありますか?

So as I answered above to your first questions, it is, I might be able to say, it might depend on the person. However, since in the Microsoft Window's case, since it is a legal right, it is always spelled as "ウィンドウズ” or "ウインドウズ”. ( I have never ever seen in computer stores Windows labelled as "ウィンドーズ″。

And in case your question is about the "standard" how to use ドウ and ドゥ, regarding when, or what kind of situation, from your 大辞林,

ウインドー [0] 〖window〗 (1)窓。 (2)ショー-ウインドーの略。陳列窓。 (3)コンピューターのディスプレー画面上で情報の表示されている部分。画面をいくつかの部分に分割し,それぞれに異なった情報を表示する方式をマルチ-ウインドーという。

From my experience, when we say "window", I think personally, most of people would have the image of (3) コンピューターのディスプレー画面上で情報の表示されている部分。 Again from my experience, we call the 窓 as まど, and ショーウインドー as ショーウインドー.

Good night.

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The difference here is one is an object with a defined, determined dictionary entry and one is a name. Microsoft has chosen to have it's name read with a closer pronunciation to the English word 'Windows' than the contemporary dictionary entry for window.

However, my dictionary in particular, (one that is based on J-DICT files) shows ウィンドウ,ウインドウ,ウインドー and ウィンドー as in use, katakana entries. In my experience, for the most part when using カタカナ, unless it is a name of something or a pronunciation guide, the extended sound (for example ドウ) is usually represented with a 「」 (as in ドー). As for the small , this is again related to pronunciation / naming preference. ウイ would produce a sound like the English word we whereas a ウィ would pronounce a shorter wi sound as in the word window.

Looking at another example ヴイ would be pronounced like the letter V (when reading out the alphabet for example) wheras ヴィ would be pronounced like the vi in vision. Another thing you have to be careful of is that Japanese does not always follow the English pronunciations for loanwords that have been taken from elsewhere (such as German, Spanish and Russian).

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