Does iNat have a consistent way to deal with languages that are not natively written in Latin/Roman script, but are sometimes transliterated? I didn’t look through all the lexica that exist, I just stumbled on the lexicon “Hepburn” and now I’m wondering. Hepburn is a common way to transliterate Japanese characters into Roman characters, but it’s not itself a language or a translation. Since an individual lexicon doesn’t care what kinds of characters it gets as input, it seems to me that it would make more sense to enter Hepburn-transliterated names directly in the Japanese lexicon.
So I would rather the first than the second (but the second is what currently exists):
Note that the Hepburn ezo-tanuki is character-for-character equivalent to the Japanese エゾタヌキ:
e = エ
zo = ゾ
ta = タ
nu = ヌ
ki = キ
This is not a translation, just a transliteration into Roman characters using the Hepburn rules (rather than, for example, Kunrei-shiki rules).
And while I’m at it, I’ll put in a plug for https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/require-approval-for-addition-of-new-lexicon-for-common-names/9830.
I’m against mixing two lexicons if one is a translation and the other a transliteration. It could cause a good deal of confusion and misunderstanding on all sides.
I don’t know if any policy exists and I’m not sure there’s a need to be too strict either way. Might be best to ask speakers of each language in question.
It also seems like it could be a nightmare for formatting when exporting name data, if the language is not written left-to-right like English is.
I’m a Japanese speaker and I agree with jwidness. It’s hard to know what language it is when it says Hepburn. In Japan, the names of living things are written in “カタカナ Katakana”, not Hepburn in formal places. While Hepburn is useful to foreigners when researching Japanese living things, but the way to put the Hepburn name in the Japanese lexicon should be fine… And it’s better to show “Katakana name” first.
I am a japanese.
I also have been thinking the same thing for a long time.
Hepburn is a common way to transliterate Japanese characters into Roman characters, but it’s not itself a language or a translation.
Frankly, I fundamentally don’t think “Hepburn” are necessary in Item: “Language / Type”.
We, Japanese, don’t use “Hepburn” when we treat of the animal. We use katakana(=Japanese) or scientific name for animal name.