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A Few Notes about Nomenclature in One Piece

A few (rather important) new characters and epithets were introduced in this week's chapter. We ended up going back and forth a few times with the romanization of their names, and there appears to be a bit of confusion among you all as well, so I thought I'd just come forward and clear the air.

Let's talk about Sanji's older sister. Her name in katakana is レイジュ. This is pronounced "Ray-joo." The standard romanization for this name would be "Reiju." Initially, I wasn't too much of a fan of this spelling, as I felt it didn't look appropriately "feminine." She herself is clearly quite feminine, and her charms/flirtyness are a part of her character. At first, then, I didn't (and still don't) feel that the word "Reiju" looked like the kind of name a character like that should have. Her name is very close to the word "Rouge," a relatively common name for similar "sexy possibly villanous woman" archetype characters. (Anyone ever played Sonic Adventure 2?) I therefore decided that Reige would be a better romanization; it maintains the pronunciation while fitting more with the image of the character.

However, after thinking about it a bit more, I realized it was more important to preserve the commonality in the patterning of the Vinsmoke children's names. As many of you probably already know, the Vinsmoke siblings introduced so far all have a number at the beginning of their names. Additionally, with the introduction of Yonji and Reige/Reiju, we can perhaps guess that the pattern is "number + j + vowel." The "Reige" spelling goes against this patterning, and makes it seem like Reiju is somehow unique or different than her siblings, a conclusion I would rather avoid readers jumping to. So I ended up switching the name back. This happened pretty soon after the chapter was released, within about 10 minutes.

Next, let's talk about name ordering. This was basically just my mistake. For those who aren't aware, Japanese names are traditionally written with one's surname or "last" name first. Obama Barack, Smith Will, etc. In certain series (Haikyu, BNHA, TG) we reverse the ordering because it can be confusing for readers to identify which is a character's first name and which isn't, especially when they are referred to by both. However, there's a strong existing precedent for NOT swapping names in One Piece, because "Luffy D. Monkey" just sounds weird. We've gotten used to the other ordering, and the rest of the names should follow suit. I forgot about that this week. My apologies. The name ordering is now fixed; it took me a bit longer than I'd like to get around to having it switched, however.

Finally, while we're talking about ordering, I'd like to offer my thoughts on the epithets of the two newly-introduced Vinsmoke siblings. People seem to be preferring an ordering that has the color come first, followed by the noun. That is, "Green Winch," not "Winch Green." Unfortunately, the latter ordering is the one given in the raws. Additionally, the epithet is not written in kanji or hiragana like a regular name; it literally is "Winchu Guriin" in katakana. with the information we have at the moment, I don't feel that that's enough to assume that it's an actual name and should therefore be reordered, especially given what I just mentioned about not reordering names in One Piece. People have also pointed to Sanji's name as an example of a "switched" ordering, but the two aren't exactly comparable. The reason Sanji's epithet, "Black Leg," is written in that order is because it is fundamentally different from his other siblings (so far, at least). As I mentioned earlier, "Winch Green" and "Poison Pink" are written in katakana. "Black Leg" is written in Kanji, and it's often written in the Japanese text after Sanji's own name, similar to how "Pirate Hunter" comes after Zoro's, or "Straw Hat" after Luffy's. Adjective ordering in Japanese dictates that these epithets be placed in FRONT of the names they describe. That's why you get "Straw Hat Luffy" not "Luffy the Straw Hat." As far as we can tell in this chapter, "Winch Green" and "Poison Pink" do not follow this pattern. Reiju refers to herself just as "the Poison Pink," not "Reiju the Poison Pink" or "Poison Pink Reiju." Of course, this information may change as we learn more about these characters, but at the moment, given the information we do have, I don't think we can assume that the ordering of the epithets of the two Vinsmoke siblings should be switched.

Thanks as always for your support.

- vox