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Asian surnames (was Re: SAPE Proceedings: papers of mass distraction)

::pops out of lurk-mode::

Just thought I'd drop two cents on the issue of Japanese names...

HP Marjanovic wrote:

> Not quite. You are correct that Chinese surnames are put before the
> names. AFAIK that's not the case for Japanese, however. I don't know since
> when there are surnames in Japan; in China they are all 3000-year-old clan
> names, which is why there are so few*. Vertebrata PalAsiatica, which
> all surnames in Caps Lock, puts Chinese surnames before and Japanese and
> western surnames behind personal names.

Japanese surnames are commonly (at least, in Japan!) put before the personal
names, just as in Chinese.  I'm a bit surprised to hear that this journal
prints them Western-style.  As for the origin of Japanese surnames, some of
them are clan names, some are place names, and I think the most logical
reason for them to be written surname-first is simply Japanese grammar.  A
name like "Tokugawa Ieyasu" would have been written in an earlier time as
"Tokugawa no Ieyasu", or Ieyasu OF [the clan of] Tokugawa.

Often in Western settings, the Japanese will arrange their names
Western-style, but there's no set convention for this, and things can often
be confusing, since many Japanese surnames are not as easy to pick out as
Chinese ones.  (Amusing example: on the English version of the show Iron
Chef, the names of the Iron Chefs are all given Western style, except the
I.C. Chinese, Chen Kenichi, who one would guess is of Chinese descent.)

<end of blithering>

Andrea Kirk