Rampo vs. Ranpo
A very Happy New Year to everyone reading this blog entry.
And a very Happy New Year to everyone who isn't reading it, too!
We released another Edogawa Rampo book in late 2014—Edogawa Rampo: The Early Cases of Akechi Kogorō—and someone asked me why we spell his name Rampo and not Ranpo. They pointed out that the English translation of Panorama Island from U. Hawaii Press spells his name Ranpo. It's a good question, and deserves a good answer.
The fundamental issue here is that he writes using Japanese characters, not Roman letters. Depending on which Romanization system you choose to represent Japanese in Roman characters, you can get various results. The currently accepted "by the book" method calls for Ranpo, which probably matches the Japanese characters closest. Rampo, on the other hand, probably matches the pronunciation of the name in Japanese most closely.
Another possibility would be Lampo, for example... as I've mentioned before, the Japanese language has neither L or R as pronounced in English, but a sound similar to both. By convention it is represented as R, but there are numerous times when the actual sound is undeniably closest to L. A friend of mine from many years ago insisted that his name was Akila, not Akira, and I have to agree it's entirely his decision.
So why Rampo? Well, if the Romanization system currently in vogue changes every so often, for whatever reason, then it is difficult to say one is right and another wrong. We decided that since Rampo himself chose that spelling, when he published his first collection of translated stories in English, that we should respect his decision. And so, regardless of the often-seen Ranpo spelling, we continue to use Rampo. The pseudonym is, after all, his creation, not ours.
We hope to be releasing more Rampo in the future, and hope you'll stay with us in 2015 and beyond!