Category: japan

Japanese interest in American bike commuters

While we go all ga ga over Danish bike commuters, the Japanese are fascinated with all things American, even American bicycle commuters.

The Asahi Shinbun newspaper in Japan printed this article today about bike commuters in Silicon Valley and about the increased acceptance in the Valley of the Clean and Green Action Plan. The article also mentions the bike commuting incentive at Juniper Networks, which has one of the top bike incentive programs in the Bay Area. Juniper provides bike racks at every building, bike lockers at the main building, private (!!) showers, and an emergency ride home program. In addition, Juniper offers a $20 spending card for every 10 bike commutes that can be used in the campus cafeteria.

Props to my Japanese cycling friend at Hole in the Wall.

Lateral apical postalveolar flap

While reading the Wikipedia article about the Japanese language, I encountered this sentence about how Japanese pronounce the “R” sound:

The ‘r’ of the Japanese language (technically a lateral apical postalveolar flap), is of particular interest, sounding to most English speakers to be something between an ‘l’ and a retroflex ‘r’ depending on its position in a word.

Now, I dare you to say — out loud — “lateral apical postalveolar flap” with a lateral apical postalveolar flap. In other words, say that phrase the way a Japanese person would. The ‘l’ and ‘r’ are pronounced identically. With ‘l’ don’t stop your tongue against your teeth as you normally do; and on the ‘r’ your tongue should be more forward of the soft palate than normal. There’s some irony that if you form your ‘r’ and ‘l’ with this lateral apical postalveoloar flap, then you can’t actually pronounce ‘lateral apical postalveoloar flap.’

My mother is Japanese — when my wife and I chose names for our children we rejected names that my mother and her family could not easily pronounce. My wife (a speech pathologist by education) thought of naming our first child “Postalveoloar Flap” as a sick joke. It must have been the drugs. Or it could be that all speech pathologists have a sick sense of humor. Stutterers can have difficulty pronouncing “stutter.” If you have a lisp, you can’t say “lisp.” I’m sure there are other examples where somebody who suffers from a speech disorder can’t pronounce his disorder. Maybe that’s how they test if the therapy works or not.

When I posted the cat bicycle image the other day, I neglected to mention Frank’s picture of the invisible bicycle.

Japanese bicycle blogs

A new bike blog I discovered is “Hit the Trail”. Sagano is a recent transplant to the Bay Area, where he enjoys road cycling and hiking. He’s also recently discovered the fun of mountain biking in the Bay Area.

Some other Japanese language blogs I occasionally follow include Honk de BONK, Fun Cycle, Hatena Diary, J’adore le vĂ©lo, and Hole in the Wall. Gambatte!