Herb Stahlke hstahlke at GW.BSU.EDU
Sun Aug 26 00:19:27 UTC 2001

This brings to mind the distinction between /bUm/ and /boom/.  A bomb goes /boom/, but a toddler falling on its bum goes /bUm/.


<<< douglas at NB.NET  8/25  3:43a >>>
>It's not the backup group whose pronunciation I'm interested in but the
>American boy.  And what he says is clearly /zUmzUm/, not /zmzm/.  The only
>reason the vocal groups pronunciation interests me is that because of it
>pronunciation is consistent in the ad.  Given money and care taken over
>such ads, I doubt that this is an accident.

I haven't seen the ad. I listened to the group at the Mazda web site. My
impression (which I can't justify) is that the word spoken is English
"zoom" /zum/, as spoken with an 'accent' -- maybe African, maybe something
else, not usual US or UK. Whether these speakers would distinguish /zUm/
from /zum/ -- or "pull" from "pool" or "soot" from "suit" -- I don't know.
If I asked the singer whether he said "zoom" /zum/, I think he would say
yes. I agree that the word as sung is virtually my/our /zUm/.

Is the boy American for sure? Was he perhaps told to reproduce the sound of
the singers? Was he instructed by a Japanese to say "zoom", and if so how
did the Japanese pronounce it? [/u/ versus /U/ is not a natural contrast in
Japanese AFAIK, the Japanese "u" being far removed from either.] Maybe this
is an intentional oddity, meant to catch the viewer's attention, the boy
ostensibly mimicking the foreign singers or something.

If "zoom" is perceived by the ad producers -- and/or by the boy -- as an
arbitrary sound, there's no reason he shouldn't say /zUm/. For comparison,
I just listened to the "singing flowers" sequence in Disney's "Alice in
Wonderland" video: some flowers sing /bUm bUm/, /bUm b@ bUm/ -- clearly (to
me) not /bum/ "boom" as I would speak it.

-- Doug Wilson

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