How to pronounce Japanese and Chinese snowboarder names

Posted: January 11, 2015 in Essays and Musings, Media
Tags: ,

Last month, I was super stoked to see Yiwei Zhang take second place in Men’s Snowboard Superpipe at the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships. More and more Asian riders are making their way into big contests, and that is fantastic. However, I get a sense of dread in seeing them on TV because there is a high possibility that their names will get butchered. This is something that frustrates me immensely especially when you have someone like Xuetong Cai who has been competing for five years and still has ESPN and NBC confusing her last name for her first name.

That’s just unacceptable. Therefore I have decided to create a pronunciation guide for some well-known Chinese and Japanese snowboarders.  Some sounds don’t translate well into English, but I’ve tried my best to approximate (with links on two difficult syllables).  For more information on how to pronounce Japanese and Mandarin correctly, please check out these pages: So You Want to Learn Japanese? and Yabla Chinese – Pinyin Chart.  NOTE: I’m writing first name, then last.

Japanese male snowboarders

  • Ayumu Hirano = Eye-yoo-moo Hee-rah-no
  • Kazuhiro Kokubo = Kah-zoo-hee-row Koh-koo-boh
  • Kohei Kudo = Koh-hey Koo-doh
  • Ryo Aono = Ree-oh Ah-oh-no
  • Taku Hiraoka = Tah-koo Hee-rah-oh-kah
  • Yuki Kadono = Yoo-kee Kah-doh-no

Japanese female snowboarders

  • Miyabi Onitsuka = Mee-yah-bee Oh-nee-tsu-kah
  • Yuka Fujimori = Yoo-kah Foo-gee-mo-ree

Chinese male snowboaders

  • Yiwei Zhang = Yee-way Zahng

Chinese female snowboarders

  • Shuang Li = Swahng Lee
  • Xuetong Cai = Shue-tohng Tsai
  • Zhifeng Sun = Zh-fung Swen

If you’re still lost, I created a video.  I’m hoping this will give people a better idea of how to say these snowboaders’ names.  After all, we do our best to learn European names so the same diligence should be applied to Asian riders.

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  1. […] How to pronounce Japanese and Chinese snowboarder names […]

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