I've been noticing that Latin letters in abbreviations and acronyms are (obviously) common in Japan.

For instance:

  • JR becomes ジェイアール
  • CM becomes シーエム
  • N3 becomes エヌさん
  • NHK becomes エヌエイチケイ (I think)

Are there any set rules for pronouncing (possibly made-up) acronyms like these, or rather, are there set Japanese pronunciations for each English letter? How would a 日本人 pronounce a random acronym like AXQ, JSOC or something?

Maybe pronunciation is irregular... but would you guys know any good guidelines or sources?

I've noticed that there may be some irregularities, like here Why is "UFO" pronounced as if it were a word? I'm more or less okay with "guessing" the pronunciation of letters. Still, is there any actual list of the sounds?

Any help is appreciated!

  • 1
    For the set Japanese pronunciations of English letters, see https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/ラテン文字#文字の名称 (article section #5), the last column of the table. They are quite straight, except for V ブイ, maybe.
    – firtree
    Apr 16, 2015 at 0:48
  • Ohh.. Apparently there's also pronunciations in other languages like French and Esperanto. Thanks! I've been looking for this.
    – quarks3141
    Apr 16, 2015 at 12:49

1 Answer 1


Most of the acronyms I know are pronounced phonetically as they are in both your example and most of the time in English. However just as English turns some acronyms into their own words, the same happens in Japanese. I can't think of a specifically defined rule and to further muddy the waters, some of these are influenced by some of the people or companies representing them.

Your two examples would most likely (some people would prefer the proper Japanese words - such as the second example) be used instead.

AXQ [AXQ] エイエクスキュー / Ei-eks-kyu {Unsure of specific example that you are referring to} JSOC [統合特殊作戦コマンド] ジェイソック / Jei-sok

More Examples...

  • Acronym [日本語]
    • カタカナハツオン / English pronunciation
  • NASA [米航空宇宙局]
    • ナサ / Nae-sa
  • JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) [独立行政法人宇宙航空研究開発機構]
    • ジャクサー / Ja-ksa
  • NISA (Nippon Individual Savings Account) [日本少額投資非課税制度]
    • ニーサ / Ni-sa
  • MOFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) [外務省]
    • 外務省 / Mo-fa
    • ※ Only usually referred to in Japanese as 外務省
  • Thanks man! I guess I just need to brush up on more vocab then.
    – quarks3141
    Apr 14, 2015 at 2:38
  • At the company I work for, they use a ridiculous amount of English acronyms for a whole raft of Japanese things. The last meeting I went to, I realised that about 30% of the talk was in acronyms, of which I understood maybe 15. They seem to appear with no explanation either, meaning you have to kind of assume what they mean until you can confirm it yourself. Good Luck Apr 14, 2015 at 4:52

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