Monday, March 18, 2013

A question of character

Shamelessly expanded from an email I sent to my father, because EFFICIENCY.

My friend the Japanese teacher recently suggested kanji characters for my name. Justin can't have any because his name has significantly non-Japanese sounds, but "Nana" is a common sound in Japan. Not only is it the pronunciation for the number 7, it can even be a name: there is a recent manga in which the premise is that two girls named Nana meet up on a train to Tokyo and become roommates in apartment 707. The joke, of course, is on the number pronunciation; you have two Nanas living in apartment "Nana-zero-nana." I wanted to just use the character for "seven," or "七", for my name (look how easy it is to write!!!) but apparently this is Not Done.

There are apparently two characters for "Na" which are appropriate for names, either of which would be followed by a character indicating that you double the sound. Forgive me for not typing that, since I have no idea how to type "repeated sound" phonetically on my keyboard, which is the only way to type in Japanese. Kind of a metaphysical question, actually.*
The first "Na" is the character for vegetables, and looks like this: 菜. I like this because vegetables are funny, and also I already know how to write it, which would save time. However, she said that felt a little soft for me, since it also has sort of a bendy, "amber waves of grain" connotation. After some reflection, I thought perhaps of the English name "Willow."

The second "Na," she said, would be "a much better fit." It is the same "Na" from the city of Nara, the old capital, and is used by one of the two Nana manga characters (the other just writes it ナナ, which is phonetic Katakana). This alternative "Na" looks like this:
I looked it up. It means "hell, abyss, the worst possible." 

Cannot decide if my feelings are hurt, or if I should consolidate power and rule through fear. Advice would be appreciated.
* After looking up the character Nana Komatsu from Nana, I found that her name is written with this character: 奈々. So now you can see it thanks to the magic of cut and paste, but I still don't have a clue how to type it.