Japanese doctor warns against “kirakira” names

Kirakira neemu (sparkly names) are modern Japanese baby names that are basically unintelligible, as their pronunciations don’t match up with the traditional pronunciations of their kanji characters.

One example is the kanji character below. It’s pronounced totsu or deko, and has meanings like “convex, protrusion,” “bumpy, uneven,” and “forehead, brow.” Apparently, though, it’s also a kirakira name pronounced “Tetris,” as the character is shaped like a Tetris block.

kanji, totsu, deko, kirakira, tetris

In mid-2013, Japanese pediatric ICU doctor Ikuya Ueta tweeted a plea to parents to stop using kirakira names. Here’s his tweet, translated:

“Please, don’t give your kids kirakira names. When getting incoming calls from EMS workers, if names don’t use common kanji or have normal readings, it could result in errors when making patient IDs. If we redo the patient ID later, it results in two IDs, which increases the danger of making mistakes. Please give your kids names that can be easily conveyed over the phone!!”

He also said that patients with extremely confusing names were sometimes simply assigned new names at the hospital — a practice that, until recently, was reserved for patients whose identities were unknown.

Source: Phro, Preston. “Choose a normal name for your baby, ICU doctor urges.” Japan Today 4 Aug. 2013.

[Related post: Japanese Names Getting Harder to Read]

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