Saturday, December 29, 2007
Maybe They Should Turai a Little Harder
I'm something of a car nut. I drive a hopped-up version of an ordinary Mazda 6 called the Mazdaspeed 6 (It's full name is the Mazda Mazdaspeed Mazda 6... I'm not kidding) that comes packing 270-some horsepower with a turbocharger, all-wheel-drive, and tires that cost an alarming amount of money. I read auto blogs. I fantasize about owning a Koenigsegg, like I'd know what to do with it. And I love it when the entire auto publication industry is taken in by some marketing nonsense.
If you're into Japan at all, you know the concept of Engrish. Japanese, or traditional Japanese I should say, doesn't have a few sounds that we have. One of those is our common 'L.' They have a sound that's L-ish, but not quite. So they usually end up making a sound closer to an 'R.' We all know the 'Flied Lice' joke at Chinese restaurants. So you have Japanese people saying some inadvertantly funny things, like "crap" instead of "clap," and "love" becomes, so romantic, "rabu."
So when Mazda came out with a new concept car called "Furai," my ears, after years of Japanese cartoons and movies, immediately heard "Fly." Mazda is saying it literally translates to 'Sound of Wind." This marketing line has been repeated verbatim by countless online publications. This was just too coincidental for me. And sure enough, according to Freedict.com's Japanese section, "sound of wind" actually translates to "Tenrai" and, surprise-surprise, "Furai" is "Fry" or "Fly" in Engrish.
Absolutely NO ONE has looked into this? How the hell is that possible? Anime permeates our entire culture. How the hell did they miss that Mazda was basically blowing smoke up their ass. It doesn't mean "Sound of Wind." It means "We Wanted to Use an English Word That We Can't Pronounce." It wouldn't have required much checking. Google "Furai" and the NUMBER ONE listing, still, is for fried food. Way to copy and paste from the press release, guys.
In further Japanese auto-related news, make a Japanese person's head explode by asking them to say "Lexus."