I am planning to start a small business in the art industry in the UK. I was brainstorming ideas for business names some time ago and I started typing in translations of English words I found relevant to the business goals.

I found that accuracy and precision both translated (through google translate) to Seido 精度.

I experimented with many other words but I kept returning to Seido as it is a short word, with few syllables and has a good ring to it.

Recently I was researching for website domain names and I found Seido is taken in many domains across the world for schools of karate. From my understanding Seido is not a traditional form of Karate and instead was a school created in 1976 in the USA and has expanded to other schools internationally. I became concerned that my interpretation (via google translate) was incorrect and that people could be associating the use of Seido with karate. On one of the karate websites they have quoted "'Sei' means truth, honesty and sincerity. 'Do' means Way". I would like to know if this is a more accurate translation of Seido (than accuracy/precision) or if they have interpreted the structure of the word in their own way?

I want to pay homage and respect to the Japanese values of workmanship, detail and precision with my choice of business name.

But I want to be careful that I am not naively using a word that may have other meanings or may be more commonly known as a form of karate, and would be detrimental to my businesses identity.

Thank you for any advice you can give me.

  • The do in karate is 道 / どう in Japanese but the do in seido is ど so they are different words with different pronunciation in the Japanese language. – Ben Sep 14 at 3:37
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    You're asking about 精度 but then it looks like you start talking about 正道, which is not the same word and not pronounced the same either. The former is seido while the latter is seidō. Some ways of writing Japanese in English letters don't distinguish between long and short vowels, but these are different from each other. – Leebo Sep 14 at 3:38
  • Thank you Ben and Leebo. This is clearly a syntax issue of sorts where English karate studios are using seido in place of seidō for ease of use. – William Sep 14 at 4:27
  • 度 means "index", and 精度 is more like "precision index" or "degree of precision" rather than "(being) precise". Similar words that don't contain 度 would be 精密 and 精巧, but the latter has been taken by a large company :) Many Japanese companies actually have 精密 in their names, but I don't know how it's used in the UK. – naruto Sep 15 at 2:45

To answer your main question directly: Yes, 精度 (seido) can be used to mean "accuracy" or "precision" in most contexts.

Nevertheless, in certain contexts, where "accuracy" and "precision" are distinguished (e.g. scientific), there may be better-defined words (e.g. 正確 (seikaku) for "accuracy", 精密 (seimitsu) for "precision"). See: Science writing - exact, precise, or accurate

As has been noted in the comments above, 正道 (seidou) which notably uses different characters, means "path of truth" or "path of righteousness" or similar, and is a term used in judo. So, as you have discovered, the varying (in this case, sloppy!) forms of romanisation of Japanese terms into English may lead you to have some overlap in the romanised form.

Of course, how the word is romanised is supposed to be roughly phonetic, so it is helpful to consider homophones more broadly. There is one common true homophone (i.e. sounds identical to 精度), which is 制度 - meaning "system" (e.g. education system); and probably one rarer one 西土, meaning something like "Western lands". There are also plenty of 'false' homophones (i.e. sound not like 精度 but do sound like 正道), such as 聖堂 (Confucianism), with varying rarity.

It shouldn't be a problem in and of itself for people to work out which characters you are referring to (especially if the characters appear in your branding, or you give an explanation surrounding the genesis of the name), but there may be unintended associations when transliterated to "seido" for all of the reasons given above. That all said, most people in the UK obviously don't know Japanese, and it may just look like a generically Asian word to most people!

Finally, for what is worth, given 精度 is a Chinese derived word, and is rendered the same in simplified Chinese, 精度 is also used sometimes in Mandarin (pronounced jīng dù) to mean "precision". However, from what I have seen (as a non-native speaker, whose Mandarin is definitely worse than their Japanese!), it is used in the sense of "this ruler is precise to 1mm" as opposed to "precision" as the degree of reproducibility (which would usually be 精确度, I think), so you may wish to think about the branding from a Chinese language perspective too.

Hope that helps!

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  • Thank you Henreetee for your incredible insights here. I am really impressed by the detailed understanding you have given me. – William Sep 15 at 3:50
  • The difference of 精度 and 正道 is now very clear and I feel far less concerned about their romanisation of the word and adjusting the English text to fit their needs.I find it odd that they wouldnt keep the "ou" sound which would have clearly differentiated their judo school from 精度 for a native speaker. – William Sep 15 at 4:12
  • Your answer has given me the confidence that I could use this English translation of 精度 to appropriately represent the meaning of "accuracy" and "precision" even though, as the user naruto has pointed out above that 精度 can also represent a "precision index" or "degree of precision" rather than the act of being precise. The common ground between these definitions and also that in Chinese it translates the same, gives strength to a decision to use the word Seido 精度. If there were a wider variety of interpretations, I would certainly be more hesitant. – William Sep 15 at 4:13
  • The work Seiko 精巧 that the user naruto has referenced is an interesting example also. As it certainly has a better sound in English than Seido but the translation google offers me is "Elaborate" even though on their wikipedia page they give the translation as "Exquisite" or "Success", which are pretty apt choices of interpretation for makers of watches. – William Sep 15 at 4:13
  • One other, perhaps unrelated, stumbling block with the potential decision to use the word is that some feedback I have had from other English speakers I have mentioned the name to has been hearing it as Sado and they reply "as in sadomasochism?". Which is concerning as it's not a connotation I want any association with but sado is not a word in the English language and sadomasochism is derived from sadism. Given that the text would be Seido and although sado is a homophone of Seido, the fact that sado is not an actual word, doesn't deter me, for now. – William Sep 15 at 4:14

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