Does anybody know of a standard term to describe Japanese and Western name orders (for example, when filling a form):

John Somelastname ← "Western name order"

Somelastname John ← "Japanese name order"

Short of an exact term for each form, what construct would you use if you had to tell somebody to use one instead of the other? or tell someone which one is which, in a document where both would be present.

To clarify: I am not asking how to say "write first name, followed by last name" or some such step-by-step instruction, but a self-contained descriptive term for the forms themselves.

  • I don't think you can tell someone to use one order rather than another. Japanese people with Western-adopted mind romanize their name in Given name-Family name order, whereas people with enough education in scientific field will often romanize their name in Family name-Given name order. And when it comes to proper nouns, the way someone writes his/her name defines the correct way to write. Depending on the person, "Yamada Taro" might be correct. For another "Yamada", the order "Taro Yamada" might be correct.
    – user458
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 19:03
  • If you want to tell people to write parts of their names in a specific order, usually, there are separate columns for each part, being specified for what part it should be filled with.
    – user458
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 19:04
  • If you are mentioning the typical name order defined in the society, there might be terms for that, but then, "Given name-Family name" and "Family name-Given name" are not the only orders found across the world, so there should be a more complicated system of terminology. My guess is that cultural anthropology or sociology might deal with it.
    – user458
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 19:09
  • @sawa Say you're talking to someone and they give you someone else's name (who is not present). How would you ask for clarification about the order the given and family names were provided? Sometimes people will provide them in the Western order to "help out" the foreigner; sometimes they are provided in the "natural order" for the speaker/person being discussed, so it's not always easy to assume what the order is. (I think this is related to Dave's question?)
    – Troyen
    Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 1:17
  • @Troyen I wouldn't ask what order it is given in. I would ask which part is the family name and which part is the given name.
    – user458
    Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 1:24

2 Answers 2


What about:



from the Wikipedia page

  • 2
    It is more usual to use 中黒 (・) or no delimiter than using a dash (-). Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 10:05
  • @TsuyoshiIto, is there a reading for delimiters? If not, do we read them in succession or is there a pause in between?
    – Flaw
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 15:10
  • 5
    @Flaw: Usually they are not pronounced, so the phrases are read as せいめいのじゅん or めいせいのじゅん. Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 15:55

My colleague said this:

Surname order - 苗字{みょうじ}順

Firstname order - 名前{なまえ}順

Or How about:

Japanese - 和順

Western - 洋順

  • 1
    I think that is about the sorting order of list of names.
    – user458
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 18:53
  • @sawa, How about 和順 and 洋順? I updated the answer.
    – Nap
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 23:57
  • 3
    Are those words that you created? I can understand them given the context, but I don't think people can understand what they mean without context.
    – user458
    Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 0:02
  • 1
    @sawa, yes I just created them. hehe
    – Nap
    Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 0:21

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