Japanese Actor Refused To Pronounce 'Godzilla' In English

Japanese Actor Refused To Pronounce

In English, Godzilla is said as, well, "Godzilla". But in Japanese, it's said (and written) different: "Gojira" (ゴジラ). According to actor Ken Watanabe, who appeared in the latest Hollywood version, he was asked to pronounce the word in English -- or, at least, somewhat like it's said English.

"I was told by the director to pronounce it closer to English," Watanabe is quoted by Sponichi as saying. "But that was completely detestable, and I refused."

It seems like director Gareth Edwards probably initially asked Watanabe to pronounce it closer to English for clarity, but apparently, he was happy with the final result.

Watanabe's feelings are understandable. For a native Japanese speaker like him, Godzilla is Gojira. That's how the word is said. Likewise, English speakers -- or speakers of any language -- no doubt think words sound better in their native pronunciation.

Besides, if the movie is attempting to be closer to the Japanese Godzilla than Hollywood's previous attempt, and if the movie's posters are going to feature Godzilla written as "Gojira" (ゴジラ), then it certainly makes sense to have the movie's Japanese star pronounce the word in Japanese.

渡辺謙 こだわりの発音!「GODZILLA」ではなく「ゴジラ」[Sponichi via 2ch]


    Really crass cultural appropriation. Especially when a Japanese actor is involved. Frankly I don't have a preference on the name. Godzilla/Gojira. Smash some shit up!

      Truth be told, I don't even see the colour of Kaiju

    I do remember most of the audience laughed/snickered when he said Gojira.

      I saw it in cinemas twice. The same thing happened both times. I wanted to burn the fucker down.

        I dont remember anyone laughing when he said gojira, but i saw the movie high so then again....

      Its probable that meanwhile in Japan they are snickering every time an english speaking actor says 'godzilla'

        Most Hollywood films are dubbed in Japan so I'm sure everyone said "Gojira"

          Every movie comes subtitled and about 1/3 to a half end up getting dubs. Usually you can expect a kid's movie to get a dub because their reading isn't expected to be up to par.

          Something as big as Godzilla would very likely get both.

      My friend and I both giggled whenever he said it just because it reminded us of the lighter scene in the 90's Godzilla where the Japanese sailed says "Gojira... Gojira... GOJIRA..."
      It became an inside joke back in high school.

    Personally, I think using Gojira sounded a lot better, but I think it's a bit rich to get on your soap box about being asked to 'westernise' your pronounciation of a word when at the same time you're happy to accept their money...

    Tomato tomato? Potato potato? Considering it is a Japanese word to begin with it makes sense when a Japanese person says it they way they made it.

    Last edited 18/07/14 9:02 am

      TIL: "The name "Godzilla" is a transliteration of Gojira (ゴジラ?), a combination of two Japanese words: gorira (ゴリラ?), meaning gorilla, and kujira (鯨? or クジラ?), meaning whale."

      I never really thought about the origin of the name before - I guess I just assumed it was English mash up of God-Lizard or something. Now I feel silly.

      No less insulting than dubbing over Mel Gibson's voice track in the original Mad Max with an American accent.

    He's also gonna be cringing if he does english dubs for Pokemon...

    I just figured it was a nice little nod to the official naming policy. Eh, it worked either way.

    The problem is a lot of people don't know it really is "Gojira" and they think it is just stereotypical poor spoken english.

      Yeah, I don't doubt there would be a bit of that going on, but even the terrible remake from a few years back the reporter lady was insisting it should be pronounced 'Gojira' as per what the Japanese fisherman said...and she's heaps white.

      Maybe they should had his character correct the English pronunciation.

      Not Godzilla, it is pronounced Gojira

    As a thought experiment, I wonder if a US actor appearing in a Japanese film would receive similar support for refusing to pronounce an English word closer to how It is pronounced in Japan?

    That line made me smile when I heard it. Good on him for sticking with his own pronunciation.

    Id like to see Ashcraft write an article unrelated to japan.

    Last edited 18/07/14 2:42 pm

    If you watch the old Japanese movies, they all pronounce it as Gojira, which dated back all the way to the original films.

    After marrying into a European family and noticing how badly we pronounce their words that are used locally I can see his point in a way.

    And good on him, Hollywood needs to learn to have some respect for other countries' cultures.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now