It seems to me that people have generally turned away from using romaji in questions, but I've noticed older posts especially tend to use it...I was wondering if it's okay to replace it with hiragana or furigana (depending on where it's used). In my opinion romaji should be used by absolute beginners only, and if someone's asking a question on this site, chances are they can read at the very least hiragana...of course, I have seen some valid questions where the OP clearly was just beginning to learn and using romji makes sense, but for questions like this with a rather advanced topic, I feel we should edit it out.

I just want to ask first, because I personally find romaji hard to read, and I think the "do-not-learn-kana-or-kanji-because-it's-too-hard" model of Japanese study is out-dated...

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    I do not see the reason we should remove romaji from old posts. In addition, in the case of the question you linked to, the notation “X-eba” is conveniently used and it is difficult to replace it with kana. If we can assume readers are familiar enough with Japanese, the usual way to write it is “Xであれば,” but then it is a little difficult to recognize (say) “近ければ” is an instance of “Xであれば.” Jan 14, 2012 at 13:13
  • That's a good point, and seems to be the general consensus. Thanks for not thinking I wanted to ban romaji...I just realized I may have worded my title too directly. Jan 14, 2012 at 16:28
  • Reading "I personally find romaji hard to read" makes me wonder. I never thought Hepburn that bad. But perhaps it depends on your background? For example, English spelling is very much not read phonologically/phonetically. I'm just guessing here, but I'm curious.
    – hurdsean
    Jan 16, 2012 at 8:45
  • @heefske, Well, in my Japanese class we used romaji for a total of a week (two classes) before we learned all the hiragana (week 2 we learned katakana). We used Genki for a textbook, which with the exception of the first chapter is entirely in hiragana for readings, etc....for me (and my classmates...) learning to read romaji with any proficiency was a semi-painful reverse engineering process @.@ Jan 16, 2012 at 15:52
  • For ease of use, IMO, I don't see why X-えば would be a bad thing. Also, I write romaji when I'm feeling lazy or in a hurry, so replacing my romaji with hiragana wouldn't be a problem. But I'm wondering why not just add the hiragana to the romaji instead of removing it altogether?
    – dotnetN00b
    Feb 18, 2012 at 5:09

3 Answers 3


Whether people should learn their kanas before learning any other Japanese at all, or whether they should learn it in parallel with other parts of Japanese, is an interesting point of discussion, but it's not something this web site can do an awful lot about.

Sometimes it's not something the OP can do an awful lot about either - some people may be in classes where they are currently taught in Romaji, leaving them the choice of learning the kana in their own time, or waiting for their class to start learning the kana.

For better or for worse, a significant number of beginners use Romaji. I don't want JLU to be anti-beginner, and tell them "go away until you learn the kana".

I think romaji should only be edited out if the OP was using it because they thought technical restrictions would prevent them from using kana or kanji.

  • Oh yeah, I know I can't make people stop using romaji if that's what they know ^.^ I agree with you in making this beginner friendly, which is why we should keep that in mind if/when editing. What I meant is that there's a definite trend in teaching Japanese as a foreign language to introduce kana/kanji as soon as possible, whereas many years ago whole textbooks where printed entirely in romaji. I guess the question would be now how to tell why the OP chose to write in romaji...@.@ Jan 13, 2012 at 1:11

Would just like to point out sometimes people may check this stackexchange from a public computer that may not have an IME installed and thus enter it in Romaji. So I don't think we should enforce people always writing in Kana.

I agree with andrew in keeping existing romaji for making the site more beginer accessible.

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    Oh, I don't think it should be enforced per se, it just seems that older posts (on topics that are a beyond "beginner") have romaji that to me seems a little forced (ie it seems kana would be more natural) ^.^ Jan 13, 2012 at 3:12

Contra rewriting or forbidding rōmaji

  1. Rōmaji can be more accurate than hiragana when writing about phonological matters (kak- etc. ).
  2. Lower threshold for general linguists to participate.
  3. Whether a text in Latin letters interspersed with kanji (or 漢字) and kana (or 仮名) looks ‘‘forced’’, or interspersed with or rōmaji transcription looks ‘‘forced’’, seems to me entirely subjective.
  4. The OP may have had her reasons, can indicate if an IME was unavailable, OP can be contacted if in doubt.
  5. Enforcing strict rules and editing posts for stylistic conformity may increase the threshold for people to participate freely.


  1. Perhaps a lower threshold for Japanese to participate.
  2. Stylistic uniformity may perhaps be easier on the eyes.

In my thinking thus far, contra wins.

  • Ok, like I've mentioned before, I would never want to outright ban the use of romaji, it has it's uses, and there's nothing wrong with that. It simply seemed to me that there has been a trend to use it less and less and I was wondering if that was something we should keep in mind when editing older posts. Jan 14, 2012 at 16:24
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    This is my first down-vote. :-( Perhaps I did misread your question a bit, but I now see you yourself changed its title as well. Anyway, what I want to add is, I just wanted to make a very clear statement, motivated by fear of a possible trend that the site ends up like Wikipedia: with so many rules and prohibitions that it scares away people.
    – hurdsean
    Jan 16, 2012 at 8:24

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