View Full Version : Request for Kanji for a name

6th September 2001, 15:19
One of my students has asked for the Kanji for the name Jacob, is there a kanji for this name.

Hope you guys can help, needs an accurate translation:o

Don Cunningham
6th September 2001, 15:58
Hope you guys can help, needs an accurate translationBy accurate, do you mean you want kanji that accurately sounds like "Jacob"? Each pictogram has a different meaning, but there are several which in combination might sound sort of like "Jacobo" or "Jacobu" (Note: Nearly all kanji, just like almost all Japanese words, end with a vowel sound.)

This is how a lot of sokey-dokeys get in trouble. They find kanji which may sound like they want, but it could mean something entirely different, such as "sex-house-way" or even worse. There are many kanji which have the same exact pronounciations, but radically different meanings. So you need to be careful about which ones you choose.

Does Jacob have some meaning? For example, a friend I once knew was named Dale. He used two kanji meaning "small valley" (ko-tani) which is a rough equivalent meaning for "dale" as in "Over hill, over dale..."

If you just want an accurate pronounciation of Jacob, you might prefer katakana. It's phonetic-based and is used for foreign words and names in Japanese. Of course, it only represents the sound and has no other meanings. Still it will probably have to end in a vowel sound, so you're still looking a something Ja-Ko-Ba instead of simply, Jacob.

Jeff Hamacher
7th September 2001, 01:19
this sort of request seems to be gaining popularity. Mr. Cunningham, once again your response is on the money.

Mr. Dawson: taking into account Don's advice, why not dig up some website research on the origin of the name Jacob and see what it means? with that in hand, you'll be better positioned to look for kanji to match it. that will probably be easier than trying to accomplish your goal by matching phonetic components of kanji. if you really want to go the phonetic route, you might have more success looking into chinese sounds; japanese is very limited phonetically. best of luck and have fun with your research!

Don Cunningham
7th September 2001, 06:07
When I was working for a Japanese company, it was enough to use phonetic katakana for my name on the rare occasions I had to write it in Japanese. When I was promoted to kaicho (section leader) and had other employees under my supervision, it became necessary to have a hanko made so I could approve Japanese reports and forms.

Japanese managers get a lot of forms to sign off on. Another thing interesting about Japanese companies is that they like to circulate memos throughout the company. Rather than making multiple copies for distribution or broadcasting them by e-mail, they send one copy with a distribution list. You read it, then sign it to show you've received it and pass it to the next manager. This goes down the chain like this.

To sign stuff, though, there is only this little square box about 1/2 or 5/8 inches. It is just big enough to stamp with your personalized hanko. Due to the size or the custom, hanko can only fit about four kanji. This is not enough room for katakana, especially for a long name with lots of syllables.

With the help of my Japanese friends, I picked four kanji that roughly sound like my name. These were Ka (fire) Nin (patience) Ga (myself) and Mu (nothingness). I sort of liked the balance and it does kind of represent my personality. I had a hanko made for company purposes. Later I registered it with the prefectural office so it became my "official" Japanese name. This way I could use my hanko for banking and other stuff.

My advice to pick kanji for your name is to take several Japanese friends out for dinner, drink lots of beer and sake, and then let them pick the kanji for you. Just remember to write them down so you'll remember them the next morning. :D

7th September 2001, 10:24

Thanks for the quick reply, The name Jacob is his son's and he is wanting to get something done with the name, and since he studies a japanese art was looking for something in Japanese.

Thanks for the info on katakana, as its is a name to be written down which would be the better format.

I don't want to give him the wrong info as his son is young and due to circumstances he doesn't see him all that often.


Don Cunningham
7th September 2001, 14:35
Here is a katakana chart:


Consonants not included are created by adding marks to the kana. By adding two dots or short lines to the upper right of a kana, "k" becomes "g," "s" becomes "z, and "t" becomes "d." You just string the kana together to sound like the word or name you want.

Some other good katakana or Japanese writing sites:

Guide to Japan Katakana (http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2048.html)

Let's learn katakana (http://www.jwindow.net/KIDS/SCHOOL/LANG/kata/kids_katakana.html)

Hiragana and Katakana Explained (http://bitboost.com/TT_about-the-kana.html)

john mark
8th September 2001, 01:19
Try http://users.cybercity.dk/~ccc5820/japnavn.htm

It's a phonetic translator for names.

8th September 2001, 09:14
I tried that site once and it crashed on my surname. This time it worked, and the pronunciation was exactly as I thought it would be.

Funny, John. Most people pronounce it like that without any prompting, and believe me, I've heard them all.

Of course, I should have put them in reverse order so ya never know.


Joseph Svinth
8th September 2001, 09:34
Why not check out the Japanese-language translation of Genesis 32:22-24, where Jacob earns the name Israel by wrestling the spirit at Jabbok Ford? Said translation would also likely be better understood than would a literal translation of the Hebrew akev, meaning "heel [of the foot]" (Jacob seized the heel of his older brother Esau during birth) or its contextual translation, "one who takes the place of another."

9th September 2001, 18:33
To all of you who have contributed I would like to thank you.

Just goes to show what this site is capable of.