Laser Phone

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The RAZR (Razor) phone, whose name comes from its razor-thin profile, has been out in Japan for about a month and we have been getting pounded with advertisements. In the most recent spot, Beckham is juggling a ball while waiting off-stage. His phone rings and he answers it, but stops short and looks down at two halves of a soccer ball. The assumption is that the ball was sliced in two by this very dangerous phone.

My co-worker was not aware of the English word ‘razor’, but most Japanese people have heard the word ‘laser’, which in Japanese phonetics sounds the same. She assumed the name of the phone came from the laser-like infrared port on the end of the phone. I wonder how many people think the ball was cut with a laser.

In the first Beckham ad he was strolling through Bangkok acting cool and aloof. Uncool me: I thought he was Brad Pitt and had trimmed down a lot.

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4 Responses to “Laser Phone”

  1. sunkissd1 Says:

    I’ve been told Asians in general have a hard time with the letter “L”. I used to know a guy who’s name was Lloyd, but then he went to the dry cleaner’s they called him “Royd”. I have some Vietnamese friends who call me “Tacy” because apparently the letter “S” is hard for them as well.

  2. びっくり Says:

    The Japanese ‘r’ sounds are made by putting the tongue where an English would for an ‘r’, but moving it like we would for an ‘l’. So, I describe the actual sound as being between an ‘r’ and an ‘l’. I think being in the middle makes it very hard to hear the difference between the English sounds.

    Strange signs like ‘frower shop’ and ‘ranch menu’ are often caused by the writer panicking and second-guessing. I believe the Chinese sound is closer to ‘l’, but don’t know so well.

    Stringing a lot of consonants together can be difficult for a native speaker, but painfully so for asians. In the Japanese syllabary there are never different consonant sounds together (other than ‘n’). Stacy would be su-te-shi in Japanese syllables. The u can be swallowed a bit, but it is still noticeable to natives.

    There are a few sounds in Japanese that are difficult for me. The toughest being: rya, ryu, ryo. Sometimes my ‘ra’ and ‘ro’ get mistaken for ‘da’ and ‘do’. This has to do with similarity in tongue placement. My Japanese teacher assures me I have nothing to worry about and that native speakers will trip on these if they are speaking quickly.

    A friend in Thailand told me about difficulties with a few vowel sounds that seemed like the same sound in English. This gives me compassion for Japanese people learning English: Japanese having 5 vowels and English, about 20.

  3. sunkissd1 Says:

    I think most languages have something tricky to pronounce or enunciate if you’re not native to it. The dutch have a couple sounds that they use, one I can’t really describe…a name that comes to mind is Jurien, most closely I can call him “Yur-oon” but in Dutch pronounced with a sound so far back on the tongue it’s almost in the throat. Another one sounds like they’ve got something stuck in their throat like a hairball. My friend speaks both languages to her toddler and he’s able to differentiate the languages as well as pronounce all the “weird” (haha) sounds. I’m still practicing the hairball…

  4. びっくり Says:

    I have several multi-national families in my acquaintance here. In one family they speak Japanese in public; the father speaks Portuguese at home; and the mother speaks Canadian 🙂 at home. Linguists recommend this system as it helps children understand that these are different languages. There are some families here who speak a hodge-podge of English and Japanese in the home and their kids skills in both languages seem to suffer. Also, they can get frustrated when they say things that are clearly understood at home, but nobody at school can understand them.

    One Chinese friend says he wants to marry an American living in Japan, so all their children could be fluent in three very useful business languages. He’s not as old as me, but old enough that I don’t think he would reject a Chinese wife, given the chance. 😉

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