In a German map from the late 40's (my guess, judging from the nations and borders) of East Asia, the island of Miyakojima is transcribed Mÿako. What transcription system is this? I know the Japanese や used to be transcribed ‘ja’ (nowadays ‘ya’), and I know ‘ij’ ca been set as ÿ, but as Mi and -ya/-ja are different morae, and different syllables, it looks a bit weird, or at least difficult to parse correctly. Was this ever part of a Japanese/German transcription system, or is it just something that this mapmaker came up with?

Map showing Ishigaki and Miyakojima

(suggested tags: japanese-to-german transcription trema)

  • 2
    Can you show us a y in the respective typeface? It may give a hint as to whether that’s an or ij we are dealing with.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Sep 16, 2018 at 15:42
  • @Wrzlprmft You are right, I found an 'y' now, and it looks completely different, so this is just a peculiarity of the font, as Uwe puts it below.
    – leo
    Sep 16, 2018 at 17:36

1 Answer 1


This is "ij", not "ÿ" ("y" with diaeresis). It's just a peculiarity of the font used for this map that many letters connect to the following one (compare "i", "m", and "t" in "Iriomote"), so that "i" followed by "j" looks a bit like a dotted "y".

  • ... a peculiarity called a ligature (German: Ligatur). Sep 17, 2018 at 8:40
  • @ChristianGeiselmann "Ligature" in which sense? The Wikipedia article on ligatures says "In hand writing, a ligature is made by joining two or more characters in atypical fashion by merging their parts or by writing one above or inside the other. While in printing, a ligature is a group of characters that is typeset as a unit, and the characters do not have to be joined." ...
    – Uwe
    Sep 17, 2018 at 10:54
  • ... But for most letter connections in the sample image, neither of these holds. The connection of "i" to "j" looks exactly like the connections of "i" to "g", "l", or "o", or of "a" or "m" to "o", so it's not an atypical connection in this typeface. And it's highly unlikely that the typeface provides "chig" or "ilung" as individual "sorts" to be typeset as a unit, even though those letters are connected.
    – Uwe
    Sep 17, 2018 at 10:54

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