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The following pilot's name appears on page 12 of the book

── いつまでも、いつまでも お元気で ──

ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-4794216205

安原 正文

24歳【さい】

大尉【だいい】

There are apparently many possible readings of the captain's name; as a matter of principle, how does a native speaker reader decide how to pronounce a name if it is not possible to ask the person's relatives or friends and if that historical person is not well-known?

There are nice answers to this question here

Is it always necessary to ask how someone's name is pronounced if you encounter it first in writing?

but I am not sure whether the same rules apply for a person who was born in 1921, as the captain was.

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  • 「大尉」←「だいい」でなく「たいい」では?
    – Chocolate
    Feb 24 at 8:05
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    大尉 【たいい(P); だいい】 (n) {mil} (だいい used by Imperial Japanese Navy)
    – Ned Reif
    Feb 24 at 8:21
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    @Chocolate だいいで時代背景的には読み方合ってます。参考: NHK放送文化研究所:「大尉」「大佐」の読みは? ただこのページにもある通り正式な読み方ではない事も一応... As for the question, I would read that as "Yasuhara/Yasubara Masahumi".
    – Skye-AT
    Feb 24 at 9:06
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    Perhaps the same way a native alphabet user would decide how to pronounce Reif - an educated guess based on their experience?
    – dungarian
    Feb 24 at 11:16
  • Names are always tricky. I was traveling up the Pacific coast of northern Japan by rail, and stopped off at a tiny picturesque fishing hamlet, named on signage as 小本. I asked a Japanese person on the street how to pronounce the name (speaking in Japanese), and he apologized, explaining that he wasn't local either and had no idea himself -- it might have been Omoto, or Komoto, or possibly Kohon or even Shōhon (although less likely, since all-on'yomi names aren't used as often for small towns in that area). As @dungarian mentions, pronunciations can be a puzzle in English too. Feb 24 at 23:38

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You can try to find other sources that describe the person and hopefully include furigana, but that's about it. I think it's more common to encounter a name written with furigana in Japanese language documents than the IPA (international phonetic alphabet) transcription of a name written in English-language documents. Usually the best bet is trying to find something archived/published by the person's alma mater, like 卒業文集.

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