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Thursday, October 26, 2006

& The Irrelevant Name

As a very minor portion of the grant proposal, we needed to come up with a name for our "company". As we would likely be making our game for teaching Japanese, I knew just what to use. I never got around to writing one post on the topic, but you might have noticed that there's a general tendency for English (and probably other non-Asian language speakers) to think that anything written in Chinese/Japanese is cool, regardless of what it actually says (this works the other way around, too; in Japan, anything written in English is automatically cool, regardless of what it says or even whether it makes sense. This is taken to a grotesque extreme in Madlax, where the bad guy was named Monday Friday). To make a play on this, I decided to have the name be Japanese for "irrelevant name". I decided to try translating it myself, having the Japanese speaker in our group verify it was correct (which turned out to be a good thing, as the first try was rather disastrous).

The first e-mail I sent to him (part of a larger e-mail, actually). I'm annotating all of these here for those who doesn't know Japanese:
Incidentally, does 不関連名 [fukanrenmei - this is supposed to be a Chinese-style compound, meaning something like "no relation name"] sound okay, or does it sound like something that someone who knows only a little Japanese would write? :P

Well, we do not have a word 不関, but it sounds to me like "no relation".
and by 連名 you mean something like "joint names"?
不関連名 does not really make sense to me.
What are you trying to say?
Maybe I can translate into Japanese Kanji if you give me English expression.

That bad, huh? Well, what I was trying to say was "irrelevant name". That ended up being harder to translate than I expected, due to my rudimentary knowledge of Japanese. I was using 関連 [kanren] for "relevant" (although I also saw 関係 [kankei]), combined with 不 [fu] for "irrelevant" (though Google's translator prefers the prefix 無 [mu]), and 名 [na when used alone, mei when in a compound] for "name" (also saw 名前 [namae]). I wasn't really sure how the grammar for this would go. The one I sent you was just shoving it all together into a single compound word (I was thinking like 灼眼 [shakugan - "burning/eyes"] - from an anime name
- or 聖剣 [seiken - "holy/sword"] - from a game name) - fukenrenmei. Some other constructions I considered (and didn't know which, if any, would be correct):
- 不関連な名 or 不関連の名 ["fukanren na na" and "fukanren no na" - something like "name of no relation"] (I'm thinking な is correct in this instance, but I'm not sure [na is used for abstract modifiers, no for concrete])
- 関連がない名 [kanren ga nai na - something like "name for which there isn't a relation"] (clausal form)

Are any of those correct?

Now I see what you mean.

"relevant" means 関連 [kanren] or 関係 [kankei] like you said.
I think 無 [mu] is better for 関連 and 関係 than 不 [fu], as we have words 無関係 and 無関連.
名 [na] for "name" is also correct, and if you want to say "irrelevant name", 無関連な名 [mukanren na na] makes more sense to me than 無関連名 [mukanrenmei].

What you wrote was all correct.
関連がない名 [kanren ga nai na] means the same as 無(不)関連な名 [mukanren na na].

It is difficult even for me to combine something that means "irrelevant" and
something that means "name" without HIRAGANA.
無関連な名 [mukanren na na] is easier to understand than 無関連名 [mukanrenmai], but a word without HIRAGANA actually looks and sounds better.

So I guess we'll go with either 無関連名 [mukanrenmei] or 無関連な名 [mukanren na na].

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