Unisex Names: (Japanese) Sora


It’s a unisex name that has hints of popular culture, whether it’s in video games, manga or anime. It’s Sora.

Meaning¹ and pronunciation

As a word, Sora is written as 空 which means “empty, sky, vacant, vacuum, void.”
Other commonly used forms of Sora (as of 2009²) include:
昊 – “big, sky”
蒼空 – “blue, pale – empty, sky, vacant, vacuum, void”
大空 – “big, great – empty, sky, vacant, vacuum, void”

空 was the most commonly used form up until the mid to late 2000s². Nowadays, excluding the phonetic form そら/ソラ, 蒼空 is currently the most commonly used form. Despite this form looking like it should be written as ‘aozora’ or, as a noun, ‘sōkō,’ 蒼, in this case, doesn’t phonetically contribute (Gian-Carla Unser-Schutz has written a great paper about the new naming practices in Japan).

This name, in Japanese, is pronounced so-rah (add dot in r), the dotted R being a tapped R. However, the fact that the variant transcription, Sola, exists points out that the R, in this case, can also pronounced as if it’s a mix between that ‘tapped R’ sound and an ‘L’ sound.

Namesakes from video games, anime, manga etc.

Presumably, what comes to mind the most for many of us is the protagonist of the Kingdom Hearts video game series. He is not the only fictional namesake and if you go to the Anime Characters Database, you would find more than a dozen fictional Soras (both female and male) used in manga and anime (+ the Sora from Kingdom Hearts), so it is a moderately common name (at the very least) used for these types of media, for better or worse.

How unisex is Sora?


Gender difference analysis, using data from Namae Jiten², reveals that, by adding the numbers for 空, そら/ソラ, 昊, 蒼空 and 大空 (which, for 2009, mainly uses Sora as its phonetic form with respect to kanji) for both genders, Sora, over the course of the Heiwa Era up to 2009, is mainly given to boys (mostly staying above 70% on the masculine side), even when it’s not as often used for both genders, such is the case in the late 80s and early 90s.

That’s the unisex name of the month. What do you think of this name and/or this post? Leave your comments in the comments section below the sources.

Jisho – http://jisho.org/¹
Namae Jiten – http://www.namaejiten.com/²


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