Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Mon Apr 24 19:05:11 UTC 2006

passed on to me by Joe Clark, a piece from the Toronto Star on
Mitsubishi Canada, available at

under the header "Lancer, Eclipse lead Mitsu return in Canada":

Apr. 22, 2006. 01:00 AM


    NEW YORK CITY - In a world where brand name seems to be so
critical to
    success, Mitsubishi is fighting a multi-layered battle.

    First, in a word-association game, few Canadians recognize the
name at
    all. Second, many who do, pronounce it Mit-soo-BOO-shee, for
    completely inexplicable reasons.

    Nobody calls it Toy-OO-ta, do they?

    Third, if consumers do know the name Mitsubishi, it is more
likely to
    be for a TV or VCR than a car except for video game freaks, for whom
    the Mitsubishi rally car, the Lancer Evolution, has its own mythical
    status (and is, as yet, unavailable in Canada).

what caught joe's eye, and mine, was the claim that many canadians
say Mitsubushi (preserving the u of the second syllable into the
third) instead of Mitsubishi.

googling on Mitsubushi pulls up a startlingly large number of webhits
(on the order of a hundred thousand) -- from the u.s., australia, the
u.k., and india, just within the first ten hits.  then eventually a
pile from canada, south africa, new zealand, and ireland.  as far as
i can tell, mostly with reference to cars, but sometimes with
reference to electronic equipment.  this is a stunningly common and
widespread misspelling.

oh, lord, Mitsibishi (i all the way through) gets ca. 50,000 webhits,
again from all over the english-speaking world.  Mitsibushi (internal
i and u reversed) gets us down to ca. 41,600; Mutsubishi (first vowel
anticipating the u in the second syllable) to ca. 15,000, and some of
those are for the Mutsubishi Rubber Co.; Mutsibishi (first and second
vowels reversed) way down to ca. 349; Mitsibishu to ca. 225;
Mutsubishu to ca. 189; and Mutsubushu, finally to 0.  i didn't do the
exercise of going through all sixteen variants; this is just a
sample.  obviously, a lot of people have a lot of trouble spelling
this name. but it looks like the most common variants are those that
are one step away from the correct version, with Mitsubushi out in
front by a comfortable margin.

anyone have any ideas as to why some of these variants should be more
popular than others?

arnold (zwicky at

The American Dialect Society -

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