• 06 . 06 . 04
  • Try explaining how to spell your name to someone where there aren’t just 26 options for each character, but 20,000.

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The Name Game

A side effect of having a writing system where the same name can be written many ways is a complication in communication by phone. I was curious as to how the Japanese gave their name when the other person didn’t know which constituent kanji should be used, and didn’t have a written record of it. It turns out that they have to say a short sentence for each of the kanji in their name, so the other person can be sure they have the correct pronunciation and ideograph. The problem also occurs with little-known place and local town names. I guess it’s roughly similar to having a name mis-spelt in English, but a little more long-winded.

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