There was a popular article (and resulting variety show coverage) last year that showed what happens when you take all of the Japanese prefecture names and directly translate them into English. The results were some destinations that absolutely would make you want to visit. Gems included Love Knowledge (愛知), Thousand Leaves (千葉), Bear Book (熊本), and Thorn Castle (茨城). English makes these names hip and trendy.
So this got me thinking. What about the reverse? Japanese also makes English pretty stylish. How about taking the 50 states of the United States, and turn them into Japanese?
Not an easy task, since most people don’t actually know the meaning of most of the state names, and it is not understandable merely by looking at the word, like it is with Japanese prefectures and kanji. But through my very important research, I feel I have now accomplished a greater good to this world.
And here they are for your enjoyment and enlightenment:
Nebraska : 平水
New Hampshire: 新村
New Jersey: 新地島
New Mexico: 新戦神
New York: 新櫟場
North Carolina: 北自由人
North Dakota: 北友
Ohio : 大河
Rhode Island: 赤島
South Carolina : 南自由人
South Dakota: 南友
West Virginia: 西未婚女王
Some notes on how I created these in case you are tilting your head in wonder.
1. Some are direct translations, some are smooth translations.
2. A lot of these focus on the kanji meaning, so they make up new compounds based on those meanings. While some may be actual Japanese words, others are made up kanji combinations, creating new non-existent words, similar to what you’d find in manga. So pronunciations are pretty open to interpretation.
3. State name meanings are highly debated in academia, often with mixed origins, and best guesses by scholars. I took the meaning that was either the most common, translated better, or I just thought was a better fit in Japanese.
4. Some states come from names of royalty figures or places in Europe. For these I took the origin meaning of the actual person’s name (followed by their royalty title) or the origin meaning of the place.
5. I tried for the most part to stick with the standard of prefecture names having 2-3 kanji.
6. This is just one interpretation, that was done for fun. It would be easy to be picky and debate any of the above names.
What do you think? Does it have the same impact as Japanese prefectures turned English. Have a favorite?
Am I crazy?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.