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I'm trying to translate my German name Markus to Japanese, which seems quite difficult.

My first approach was just to transcribe it.

Ma → ma → マ  
r  → ru → ル  
ku → ku → ク  
s  → su → ス

giving マルクス.

Now, after reading a bit, I found this blog entry: What is my name in Japanese?

There I found Mark which is translated as Māku マーク, so my name might be like this Mākusu マークス.

Then I found this stack link with a link to a website with a translation: The result was Mākasu マーカス.

Well, I'm a little confused how to do it "right".

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Both マルクス and マーカス are common transcriptions of the name Markus or Marcus.

Roughly speaking you can think of マルクス as a more German/Scandinavian-sounding transcription and マーカス as a more English-sounding transcription.

The English pronunciation of Marcus is [[ˈmɑːrkəs]]. The English //r// can be silent (e.g. [[ˈmɑːkəs]]) and often is transcribed as a lengthening of the previous vowel marked by the 長音符 chōonpu ー. The German pronunciation of Markus is [ˈmaʁkʊs]. The German [[ʁ]] is never silent and often transcribed as ル. Compare the transcriptions of the English word "card" カード (note the ー) and the German word "Karte" カルテ (note the ル). Also note that the U in Markus/Marcus is pronounced differently in English and in German: [[ə]] vs. [[ʊ]] which explains why the English transcription uses カ ka whereas the German transcription uses ク ku.

There is no "wrong" way to transcribe your name, but I think マルクス would be a natural choice that would also easily be understood as a transcription of the German name Markus.

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    That is a really good explanation, thank you. So in summary: A plain transcription could be right, but the pronunciation is more important. – LStrike Aug 14 '18 at 18:23
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This gets a bit pedantic on the terminology -- sorry for that. I just want to make sure we're clear on what we're talking about. :)

The conversion of Markus to マルクス is technically called transliteration (from trans- [über, um] + litera [Buchstabe] → [umschreiben]), focusing on the letters and written forms. If your focus is on the meaning, then you're looking at translation (from trans- [über, um] + lātus [getragen] → [übertragen, übersetzen]). For names, you'd look for a Japanese name of similar meaning.

German Markus comes from the Latin Marcus, and ultimately derives from Mars (as in, the god of war) + suffix -cus, denoting "(masculine adjective) having that quality". Japanese masculine given names with somewhat-similar derivations might include:

  • 軍太郎 (Guntarō)
  • 軍之佐 or 軍之助 (Gunnosuke)
  • 軍夫 (Isao)
  • 軍兵 or 軍平 (Gunpei)

I don't think I've personally ever heard the first two, so they might be archaic -- or maybe just outside my immediate experience. I've heard the third and fourth before; in fact, when I did a homestay in Japan decades ago, my host-nephew was named Gunpei.

Anyway, food for thought. Dealing with names across languages and cultures is always an interesting process. Viel Glück!

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