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Japanese Mineral Names

English name is not systematic but Japanese name is even worse. I believe the Mineral Society of Japan must control this problem.

Museums curators and amateurs use Japanese Katakana character copying English pronounciation and putting "..Kou" (for minerals with a metallic luster) or "...Seki" (for others) as suffix. "Kou" means "ore", and "Seki" means "stone" in Japanese. Jewellers use Japanese Katakana characters expressing English pronouciation directly. In the worst case, there are more than 3 Japanese names for a mineral, and they are used in different fields.

For example, Jarosite has an original Japanese name "Tetsu-Myoban-seki", where "Tetsu" means "iron", "Myoban" means "alunite", and "Seki" means "stone". However "Ja-ro-Sa-i-to" is used in academic field.

There are many controversies about mineral name. Rhodonite has been called "Bara-kiseki", where "Bara" means "rose", and "kiseki" is "pyroxene" in Japanese. As recent study revealed that so called rhodonite includes rhodonite, pyroxmangite, and bustamite. So it was suggested to use "Bara-kiseki" as ore name or field name, and use "Ro-u-don-seki" for the mineral name of rhodonite, although it is not popular enough. We usually use "Bara-kiseki" and Jewellers use "Ro-u-do-na-i-to".

Old name of actinolite is "Yo-u-kiseki". "kiseki" sounds like "pyroxene" in Japanese although actinolite is in the group of amphibole. So "Ryo-ku-senn-seki" has been used as Japanese name of actinolite but people tend to use "A-ku-ti-no-senseki" or "A-ku-ti-no-raito" these days.

Wulfenite has 4 Japanese names: "Ou-en-kou", "Sui-en-en-kou", "Mo-ri-bu-den-en-kou", and "U-ru-fe-na-i-to". I find all of these 4 names with almost same frequency. How many Japanese recognize all these 4 names mean the same mineral.

Same as other academic fields, Japanese names were invented by using Chinese characters for each English name when modern mineralogy was imported from Germany in late Edo to Meiji era about 150 years ago. In case there were old Japanese mineral names, they used as before: "Suisyo" and "Sekiei" for quartz, and "Sinsya" for cinnabar, for example.

In 1955, Mineralogical Society of Japan tried to define mineral names by Katakana characters of English pronouciation with suffixes "-Kou" (for minerals with a metallic luster) or "-Seki" (for others) because mineral names of Chinese characters were so difficult to remember for yougers. These Katakana expression is so hard to recognize what it means that they are not popular at all.

After 1960's, the number of newly found minerals is increased so much because of invention of X-ray diffraction method and electron microscope analysis, and it was impossible to make new Japanese names for all of them. So we started to use mineral names of English pronouciation with suffixes "...kou" or "...seki".

Anyway, please decide and unite Japanese mineral name systematically, please!