Tin Tin’s a Dick

Japan’s about the only country where Tin Tin is pronounced “tan tan.”

I used to be confused why this is so and had thought I had gotten his name wrong all this while. Afterall, it’s a Belgian cartoon, and for all I know, “tan tan” may be how you read “Tin Tin.”

Later, I realised that Tin Tin is in fact “tin tin,” and why the Japanese read it as “tan tan” could simply be because “tin tin” is a dick.


In romanizing the Japanese characters, there are typically two main styles being employed: the Kunrei style taught in Japanese elementary schools, and the Hepburn style used in passports, train stations, bus stops, and road names. In Kunrei, the character “ち” (pronounced “chi”) is written as “ti” while the Hepburn style romanizes it the way it’s supposed to be read (i.e. “chi”). This means Tin Tin would essentially be read “chin chin” based on the Kunrei style. And as life would have it that “chin chin” in Japanese means “penis.”

I have a female friend from Singapore who calls herself “Ting Ting” and Japanese people do not differentiate between the nasal sounds of “n,” “m,” and “ng.” Might be wise to not introduce herself that way to Japanese people.


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