Regarding Takashi Mikami’s Dec. 20 letter, “Common sense in Japanese names“: The exactly opposite solution may be possible — and possibly more realistic — for the name-order problem that Mikami discusses. As he points out, at present, there are two ways of giving a Japanese name in English (e.g., Yasuo FUKUDA vs. FUKUDA Yasuo). Mikami suggests we limit ourselves to the surname-first order as we do in Japanese.

Indeed the surname-first order may fit nicely in the Japanese way of thinking, but it can be confusing for those who do not know Japanese, for it is difficult for them to distinguish a Japanese family name from a Japanese given name. In fact, we sometimes find a given name where a family name is expected (“Taro (1990)” in citing an academic paper, for example). The same is true for Hungarian names.

If we want to speak or write in English as a common communication tool, using a non-English tradition would seem to go against the main purpose of using English. Therefore, I suggest using the given name-first order to which Japanese seem to have already become accustomed to a considerable extent. Also, why not not use all CAPITAL LETTERS for surnames in writing? That would work better in English communication.

kimi akita

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