Friday, December 20, 2013

Implementing the Japanese Romanization Table

LC Japanese Romanization Table (updated 2012) | Joel Hahn Macros (Includes Alif to Apostrophe) | Webinar on OCLC Macros (by Erica Chang) | NACO/SACO Change Request Form

The Committee on Technical Processing (CTP)/Committee on Japanese Materials (CJM) Joint Working Group on the ALA-LC Japanese Romanization Table was formed in September 2013 to continue the work of the previous task force with regard to revisions and updates to the ALA-LC Japanese Romanization Table. It has been a year since the revision of the Japanese Romanization Table was approved and distributed. The Working Group would particularly like to raise the Japanese cataloging community's awareness that the current Table (linked above) specifies the use of the apostrophe | ' | (Unicode 0027) rather than the alif | ʾ | (Unicode 02BE) (see examples under "Diacritic Marks, 2").

What You Need to Know

  • OCLC regularly updates Worldcat BIBLIOGRAPHIC records to the new standard, using an automated program to replace any alifs in Japanese cataloging with apostrophes (listserv post from Ms. Kotaka of OCLC).
  • OCLC does not update AUTHORITY records. This is because the data management/control for LC/NACO authority files is in LC/NACO hands. As a result, pre-2012 authority records may still include the alif in romanized Japanese text.
  • In bibliographic records, if the "control headings" feature is used with authority records that include the alif, the alif will be re-introduced. Alifs in controlled fields will be corrected when the linked authority records are updated with the apostrophe.
  • Because of the normalization process, mixed use of these two diacritics will not cause any hindrance to searchers in WorldCat. However, it is still important to update authority records in order to maintain consistent use of diacritics in the records, as well as to prevent any search problems from occurring in local systems after importing records from OCLC.

What You Can Do


  • NACO (Name Authority Cooperative Program of the PCC) libraries : If you are a trained NACO contributor working for a NACO library, please update authority records by replacing any alifs with apostrophes in romanized Japanese, whenever time allows.
  • Non-NACO libraries are not authorized to update the records. However, you may make a change request to the Working Group. Click here or above to submit a request form.
  • Joel Hahn's macro for converting alifs to apostrophes, "AlifAyn2Apostrophe" (see links above) may be used in OCLC Connexion to update either bibliographic OR authority records.
  • For more background on macros for this purpose and other related issues, see Erica Chang's presentation, "Using macros in Connexion for CJK materials webinar, Advanced session" (11/2012), linked above.
  • Subject authority records may also include alifs, when they include romanized Japanese text. If your institution is a SACO library, ask your SACO coordinator to make a change proposal to LC. Non-SACO libraries may contact the Working Group using the request form link above.

Local Systems

  • Be aware of the use of the alif in bibliographic records you download to your local integrated library system (ILS). You may want to replace any alifs with apostrophes in OCLC Connextion before exporting records to your local system.
  • LC has kindly shared their alif-to-apostrophe macro for the Voyager ILS. For more information, please contact the Working Group chair, Yoko Kudo at
  • For other local systems, each library must develop their own policy with regard to this issue depending on local needs and priorities. The effect of the mixed use of the alif and apostrophe may vary from system to system.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact Yoko Kudo (, or any other Working Group member.

Japanese Romanization Working Group (JRWG)

Yoko Kudo (Chair, UC Riverside)
Rob Britt (U. Washington)
Mieko Mazza (Stanford)
Hikaru Nakano (U. Florida)
Chiaki Sakai (U. Iowa)
Keiko Suzuki (Yale)
Working Group charge

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