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2017年8月14日 (月)

MINI Cooper and 3298(ミニ・クーパーと3298)

* 日本語概要は下方 (Japanese outline below)

If you visit Japan, you will notice lots of MINI Coopers (now a car from BMW) with a license number 3298.

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Background: In Japan, a license number for a car is composed of four parts. The district code (Kanji or Kana), the car-type code (three digits), Kana code, and one through four digits numbers. Only the last part is left for an owner of a car to be picked out as he/she wants.
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Why 3298 for MINI Coopers? The answer is playing on numbers and sounds.

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Basics of playing on numbers and sounds: each of ten digits can be pronounced in several ways.
1: /ichi/, /i/, /hi/, /kazu/
2: /ni/, /fu/, /ji/, /tsu/
3: /san/, /mi/, /sa/
4: /yon/, /yo/, /shi/
5: /go/, /ko/, /itsu/
6: /roku/, /ro/, /mu/
7: /nana/, /shichi/, /na/
8: /hachi/, /ya/, /pa/, /ha/, /ba/
9: /kyuu/, /kyu/, /ku/, /koko/
0: /rei/, /re/, /o/
The task you do is find a set of numbers that sounds like a word. For an example, let's think about Naomi, one of popular female names not only in Japan but also other countries. You can see Naomi = /na/ + /o/ + /mi/ = 703. This process is very easy for most Japanse since these kinds of playing with numbers and sounds are pervasive everywhere in Japan. In fact, before the internet age (until 1990's maybe), most of advertisement with telephone number utilized this playing on numbers and sounds. One of the most appealing numbers were 4126 = /yo/ + /i/ + /fu/ + /ro/ = yoi furo = good bathing.
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Let's return to 3298. 3298 = /mi/ + /ni/ + /ku/ + /pa/. I have to note an important rule in thie playing. You can elongate vowels if thought permissible. Elongate or not, as well as which sound to be chosen for a digit, is the source of ambiguity, hence difficulty, of this playing. Note this ambiguity is like transformation of series of letters to pronunciation in English, so that most of Japanse have little difficulty to overcome those ambiguity.

So, 3298 = (/mi/ or /mii/) + (/ni/ or /nii/) + (/ku/ or /kuu/) + (/pa/ or /paa/) --> /mi/ + /ni/ + /kuu/ + /paa/ --> MINI Cooper.

Finally, I would like to propose a four-digit number for "MINI" that could be comprehensible without above mentioned Japanse way of playing numbers and sounds. If you ever come to Japan and own a MINI-brand car, and don't want to use "3298" for it takes long time in explaining why, the following would be the solution.

Use 3121.

Answer: Given "MINI", rotate "M" and "N" 90 degree clockwise. Then you'll see deformed 3121.
Mini

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 日本語による概要 (Outline of this post in Japanse)

 自動車ミニ・クーパー(MINI Cooper)のナンバーが3298であることが多々ある。
 疑問の余地なく、3=ミ、2=ニ、9=くー、8=パーという語呂合わせである。
 ただ、これは数字と仮名の語呂合わせという日本固有の遊びであるため、外国人が日本人以外に説明するのは面倒だろう。
 そこで、この日本文化と無関係に、日本在住のMINIオーナー外国人向けのナンバリングを提案したい(もちろん日本人でも構わないが…)。
 それは、3121である。
 その訳は、上図のように、MINIのMとNを右に90度回転させ、形を少々ゆがめれば、3121と読めるからである。

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