My surname ends in a silent H, which makes the last two letters, TH, pronounced like a hard T. I've read that Japanese tends to "make close approximations (of names) based on spelling, not pronunciation". So, depending on which is true, my name ends in either "to" or "tsu". Which one is more accurate?

  • 4
    You heard wrong then. Take the name "Charles" for example. We write it チャールズ as an English name and シャルル as a French name. That is 100% based on the pronunciation as the spelling is identical.
    – user4032
    Feb 11, 2017 at 15:06
  • @l'électeur Then why is my name -ALWAYS- written as レオ when リオ is clearly the closer pronunciation?
    – Leo
    Mar 14, 2017 at 9:38

2 Answers 2


No, its actually the opposite. You use katakana (normally) and get as close as you can phonetically to the original pronunciation. ツ would end your name like "gets" so you'd have an S sound at the end which is probably not what you'd want. I think hard T would probably use one of タ、ト、テ, which is ta, to, and te, respectively. No matter what, I think you'll have to end with an added vowel, which is not uncommon when trying to pronounce foreign words.

You can try an online site like here http://www.japanese-name-translation.com/ to help you get an idea. If its a common last name it may be that someone has already figured it out and there's a "normal" way to write it. If not, you can tweak it to get as close to the original pronunciation as possible.

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    Yeah, when I moved to Japan everyone I meet definitely tried write my name based on pronunciation, not how it's spelled. It's a pretty unusual/hard to say in Japanese name. Actually, that's where my user name comes from - some friends named me Haruko because my name - first and last - was a struggle :-D
    – Harukogirl
    Feb 20, 2017 at 5:27
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    @Harukogirl Isn't it considered an honor when Japanese people shorten your name? :-)
    – Andy
    Feb 20, 2017 at 23:36
  • Haha, I took it as a good thing when they named me. But my point was that my real name sounds NOTHING like Haruko- it's a gaelic orgin name, lots of consonants. They tried to go off of the sounds and put it in katakana, but.... Haruko stuck once someone suggested it. I did get called "Haru-chan" and just "Haruko" by a few closer friends as well :)
    – Harukogirl
    Feb 20, 2017 at 23:53
  • @Harukogirl just curious -- what is your name?
    – xyzjayne
    Mar 13, 2017 at 20:08
  • @Harukogirl - Yeah, my name is pretty murderous as well. You end up with ウィリアム, so I just went with ウィル.
    – William
    Mar 13, 2017 at 23:17

You are partly true.

Peter Graham

who is eminent composer in Wind Orchestra and Brass Bands musics. often translated and written as below.


Also a famous poker player

Evelyn Ng

Many believe her name is pronounced like below


her sir name rarely read properly.

It's not the all the case that we notate specific name in katakana based on its actual pronunciations.

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