A habit that I have is replacing certain words with how I'd say them in English. For instance I'd write something like this: 私はイングランド人。 私はイーストアングリアに住んでいます, but say something like this: 私はEngland人。 私はEast Angliaに住んでいます。

Is this a necessarily bad habit I should break from, or does it not matter that much?

  • why are you doing this though? have you not seen those japanese shows where like, japanese people have no idea what the english person is saying until it's said with the japanese katakana pronunciation Feb 5, 2019 at 13:21
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    I'd like to add an opinion from a minority. I'm a native speaker of Japanese, and I strongly prefer your style for writing proper nouns. Because transcribing into Kana loses too much information, well-defined usages such as イングランド being exception.
    – Yosh
    Feb 5, 2019 at 14:22
  • @Yosh Maybe you should post that as an answer. I think it could be valuable.
    – Ringil
    Feb 5, 2019 at 15:27
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    If you're writing in an environment which supports it, remember that furigana can play a role here: [East Anglia]{イースト・アングリア} Feb 5, 2019 at 18:29
  • @LazarLjubenović I completely forgot about writing furigana!
    – degetl
    Feb 6, 2019 at 21:50

1 Answer 1


I think it matters a lot and that it's best to break from the habit if you intend to speak Japanese long-term. I think for place names it's somewhat understandable because the Kana is obviously there mimicking the native place name, sort of like how a French person (no offense) might say they are from "Paris".

However, many people will not understand an English-derived Kana word in native pronunciation and there are many Japanese words that could nominally be considered English that get chopped up and placed in other words, like...

  • エアコン ("air-con" for air-conditioner)
  • リモコン ("remo-con" for remote control)

... or words that just sound too different due to Japanese phonology, like

  • ラジオ (radio)
  • ツナ (tuna)

...or even words that we may have an anglicized pronunciation for, but the Japanese went a different way, like

  • キシリトール (xylitol)
  • ワクチン (vaccine)

In short, if you pronounce "English" Kana words natively many people will understand you much of the time, but many people will not understand you much of the time.

Just imagine that a native speaker of French or Greek spoke English fluently, but decided it was OK to pronounce all of the French or Greek-derived words in English as he would in his native area. If you're OK with being that guy then I guess it's cool, but if not...

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    +1 for the "that guy" comment. :) Feb 4, 2019 at 23:25
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    The "that guy" thing makes sense, but I would say it's significantly stranger to use foreign pronunciation in Japanese than in English. It's unusual in both languages, but I think in Japanese it's probably more likely to result in a failure to communicate, and it's probably a stronger violation of listener expectations.
    – user1478
    Feb 5, 2019 at 0:30
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    I agree with you. After all, French and Greek are not as phonetically dissimilar to English as English is to Japanese. It might be more accurate to imagine someone using native-language pronunciation for Chinese-derived words as they speak English. Sichuan cuisine anyone?
    – sazarando
    Feb 5, 2019 at 0:48
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    And just to point out the blindingly obvious: Not all loan words mean what they mean in their original language, so you could extend the example to the imaginary speaker talking to a person also fluent in that native language going "wait, that doesn't make sense" because they've processed meaning of the Greek pronounced word as the Greek word rather than the meaning that's made it's way in to English.
    – Kaithar
    Feb 5, 2019 at 6:43
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    Honestly I would say it's always unacceptable to intentionally break with the expected phonemes like this, and would remove "if you intend to speak Japanese long-term" from the first sentence. The undertone of doing will be taken as either disrespectful laziness or know-it-all arrogance ("I can't be bothered to adjust" or "Look at me pronouncing it the true way, uneducated swine").
    – FvD
    Feb 5, 2019 at 7:10

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