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For example, I might write "What time is Shu-chan coming by?" where -chan is a Japanese honorific.

When broken into two lines, would it be

"By what time is Shu-
chan expected to arrive?"

or

"By what time is Shu
-chan expected to arrive?"

or some unknown third option?

I typeset English-translated manga, and I've always done it the first way, but it feels like there may still be ambiguity despite the obvious contextual usage. For instance, if it wasn't already known that the person's name is Shu, and "chan" is the honorific, is there a way to disambiguate so nobody mistakenly reads it as "Shuchan"?

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  • What are you trying to write; is it "By what time is Shuchan/Shu-chan.... In the full version, is there a hyphen in Shu-chan? Commented Oct 18, 2016 at 6:19
  • Yes, it's "Shu-chan." With Japanese honorifics, there's a hyphen preceding them, e.g. -san, -sensei, -tan, etc.
    – TMA-2
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 12:11

1 Answer 1

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The first option is correct. There is a general rule that you should make a page break at an existing hyphen and hyphens always appear at the end of the first line rather than at the beginning of the second. See, for example, Rule 2 at this link http://englishplus.com/grammar/00000129.htm Note also examples in a previous post at this forum: What are the rules for splitting words at the end of a line?

Often, in manga translations, confusion between Shu-chan and Shuchan is avoided by having a short summary of the relevant honorifics and their rough English equivalents, distinguishing, for example between Shu-kun and Shu-chan such as the one found at http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/UsefulNotes/JapaneseHonorifics but simpler.

In particular, it is also common to indicate the fair strong meaning involved in omitting any honorific (i.e. the "null honorific").

Also, as in almost all cases of hyphenated words there is a constant tension between a trend towards segregation and stating the suffix as simply a separate word (suffixes for which this is sometimes or often done are noted in the TV tropes link above) and merging the two into an unhyphenated single word (I haven't seen this in manga translations).

(FWIW, a similar honorific explanation is appropriate in any case where Arabic names are present as honorifics are omnipresent there as well, although with very different meanings).

Another way to avoid ambiguity that is fairly common in manga translations is to carefully avoid line breaks in sidebar text about characters that break the third wall and provide character profiles for readers (e.g. favorite food; blood type; height; weight, etc.), or in the intro recap/preview that is found at the beginning of many manga volumes and mentions the main characters by name, or in back cover material.

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