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August 23, 2013

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I lived in Japan in the 1990s. As quoted above, the word "vanilla" in Japan doesn't have negative connotations. I don't know how positive its connotations are, but as a culture Japanese people do like vanilla.

Regardless of the English words in the logo, Vanilla Air in Japanese is バニラ・エア (e.g., http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20130820-00000035-zdn_mkt-bus_all), which would be romanized as Banira Ea (bah nee rah ay ah). The words バニラ "banira" (vanilla) and (in various senses) エア "ea" (air) have been in Japanese since the pre-WW2 part of the Showa Era (1926-1989) (Toshio Ishiwata, Kihon Gairaigo Jiten, 1990). Japanese speakers won't struggle with the /l/ phoneme or the English vowels because the English sounds aren't in the name.

Both English /l/ and English /r/ are similar to Japanese /r/, but Japanese /r/ is close to American English's flap in the middle of the identically pronounced "medal" and "metal" (which is why "pudding" can be written プリン "purin").

Is there an English word that would convey the qualities Sakura Irie lists? My first random thoughts--"Dorothy," "BoyBand," "Pearl"--are pretty gendered (and in the case of "Dorothy," queered) by association. (And you probably wouldn't want air service between the US and Japan to carry the name "Pearl," now I think of it.)

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