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I don't actually know Japanese at all, so I'm piecing the following together as best I can--if someone has a resource for this kind of translation, I would appreciate it as well as a specific answer, if someone has it.

If someone (female) has the name Kes in English, you would normally write it in katakana as ケス, "Kesu". However, this sounds the same as the verb 消す which means something like erase or turn off. So the transliteration of the name would sound either rather negative or rather scary (or both) as a name for a person.

Also, the transliterated name gives no suggestion as to the gender of the speaker, and it sounds like a verb which is awkward, so it would be better, possibly, to add a more characteristic feminine ending, the least bulky of which is -e (エ in katakana).

So the most conservative/simpleminded translation of the name (e.g. made by a child) might be ケスエ, pronounced Kesu-e? Does that work at all? I think one could write it straightforwardly in hiragana, but maybe not in kanji (or is it just 消すえ)? And am I correct about the connotation it would have? (Would an alternate ending avoid the connotation, or is it too obvious? In English, it doesn't really matter if you name someone Destroya or Destroyelle or Destroyina...it still sounds very destructive, even if it is clearly a name.)

If the translation were made by someone who is not a child, would there be a more idiomatic way to do it which would avoid the unfortunate connotation? Is there a standard practice for this situation? (Of course another option would be just to abandon the nickname and use something else.)

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    I'm not sure that ケス (a transliteration of the propose name Kes) and 消す would actually sound the same, because I'm imagining ケス would be ケス{HL} with a devoiced ス, and 消す is けす{LH} with no devoicing on the す. (I realize you said you don't study Japanese so that will probably not make any sense, sorry). But I guess you still want to know what someone would do if something did sound identical to something negative in Japanese. – Leebo May 19 at 9:25
  • The star trek character Kes is called ケス in Japanese, same for the Ken Loach movie Kes, it's ケス, so I guess it can't be that bad of a connotation. – Thomas Petit May 19 at 10:46
  • As for this particular case of Kes, ケス is just fine with no negative connotation. In fact, except extremely rare cases if any, Japanese do not bother about names of foreigners written in katakana. – user48754 May 19 at 12:51
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    The Korean golfer Ahn Shin-Ae is known in Japan as アン・シネ. This does have negative connotations but even it is respected because it’s a person’s name. I agree with other comments here. I don’t get any negativity from ケス. It is pronounced differently from 消す. As far as I’m concerned, you would be making it worse by adding sounds. ケスエ makes me think of either 消す絵 (a painting you erase) or 消すえ in the Kyoto dialect. It’s longer but still matches a meaningful sequence of sounds. Besides, the /u/ sound of ス becomes prominent when another vowel is added after it. It is practically silent in ケス alone. – aguijonazo May 19 at 13:18
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    @aguijonazo - That's very informative, thank you. You could turn that into an answer--it's complete enough! – Rex Kerr May 19 at 13:34
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子 has been commonly and widely used for girl's name such as 英子、裕子、愛子 for abount 100 years.

Nowadays there are thousands of two-syllable+子 nicknames. It's safe to say any unusual name ends with 子 must be a girl's nickname.

CHANEL=シャネ子 GUCCI=グチ子 COACH=コチ子

ケス子(kesu ko) sounds okay and similarly ケス美(kesu mi) may work.

There is one problem I should notice that 'ゲス'(gesu) means 'asshole' and 'ケス子' could be misunderstood as 'ゲス子'(asshole girl). Searching 'ゲス子' results several hits on google(humble joke, I guess). To avoid that, 'けす子'(hiragana instead of katakana) would be better.

エ(e) sounds old since お多恵(otae),富江(tomie),千鶴枝(chizue) are quite old names.

If you dare want to use 'e', ヱ/ゑ(we) might be interesting. 'ケスヱ' or 'けすゑ', even 'けすヱ' or 'ケスゑ' (kesw e) looks original.

'けーちゃん' / 'け~ちゃん'(k chan) / 'けすりん' (kesurin) sounds like child's nickname.

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  • Thank you! I had been wondering about, but did not ask about, 子 and 美 (ミ in katakana?) endings. That gives me plenty to think about! – Rex Kerr May 22 at 6:25

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