Hepburn romanization

Hepburn romanization (Japanese: ヘボン式ローマ字, Hepburn: Hebon-shiki rōmaji)[lower-alpha 1] is the most widely-used system of romanization for the Japanese language. Originally published in 1867 by American missionary James Curtis Hepburn as the standard in the first edition of his Japanese–English dictionary, the system is distinct from other romanization methods in its use of English orthography to phonetically transcribe sounds: for example, the syllable [ɕi] is written as shi and [tɕa] is written as cha, reflecting their spellings in English (compare to si and tya in the more-systematic Nihon-shiki and Kunrei-shiki systems).

James Curtis Hepburn, originator of Hepburn romanization

In 1886, Hepburn published the third edition of his dictionary, codifying a revised version of the system that is known today as "traditional Hepburn". A version with additional revisions, known as "modified Hepburn", was published in 1908.

Although Kunrei-shiki romanization is the style favored by the Japanese government, Hepburn remains the most popular method of Japanese romanization. It is learned by most foreign students of the language, and is used within Japan for romanizing personal names, locations, and other information, such as train tables and road signs. Because the system's orthography is based on English phonology instead of a systematic transcription of the Japanese syllabary, individuals who only speak English or a Romance language will generally be more accurate when pronouncing unfamiliar words romanized in the Hepburn style compared to other systems.[1]