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Sunday, Dec. 3, 2006

Console name no laughing matter


Staff writer

When it comes to product names, Japanese companies sometimes come up with ideas that draw snickers from English speakers.

Nintendo Co.'s new video game console, the Wii, which hit stores in Japan on Saturday, may be the latest that has a humorous connotation to Westerners -- in this case "wee."

But of course, Nintendo officials say that was not their intention.

"Wii comes from the English word 'we' in hopes that many people will enjoy playing it together, rather than just one" person playing alone, said Yuka Tanegashima, a Nintendo spokeswoman. "Each 'i' in Wii represents a person and the two 'i's express the way people gather to play the game."

Tanegashima also said the "i"s are similar in appearance to the console's unique and slim controller, whose motion sensors allow it to be used as a racket when playing tennis or any other tool needed for a game.

Other well-known humorous Japanese product names include Pocari Sweat, a sports drink manufactured by Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., and Calpis, a soft drink produced by Calpis Co.

Calpis combined the word "calcium" and "sarpis," which means good taste in Sanskrit, according to the company. However, it changed the name of its soft drink to Calpico in English-speaking countries because of the unfortunate sound of the original.



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The Japan Times

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