Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | It’s SOO DOH KOO, folks!
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It’s SOO DOH KOO, folks!

Sudoku on the WebOK, I can’t stand it anymore. I’m not much of a puzzle person — crosswords can’t catch my attention, and jigsaws don’t call out to me. I’m not much of a numbers person either — hence, I work with words (journalism), not numbers (engineering). So, Sudoku hasn’t exactly lit me on fire even though it’s apparently the hottest thing in the puzzles and games world.

I see Sudoku everywhere, from supermarket magazine racks to fancy bookstores, and electronic games to lots and lots of sites on the Web.

It’s a Japanese game and has something to do with putting in numbers in sequences that add up to 9 (I think) without repeating numbers. It seems like a tortuous, twisted version of tic-tac-toe to me.

Because it’s a Japanese word, I’ve been fascinated by the way non-Japanese say the word. Since I work in the online media, I’ve taken calls from vendors who’ve pitched me the game for the sites I manage. And I hear people talk about it.

It’s amazing to me how many people can’t say the word correctly. It drives me nuts. And lately, I’ve even seen some misspellings — aren’t there any copy editors with brains on the Web?

Like most if not all Japanese words, the pronunciation should be simple — Japanese is a very straightforward language to pronounce, with no tricky intonations or unusually pronounced consonants. Sure, there’s the matter of emphasis — AsaKAwa or AsakaWA, NAgano or NaGAno — but those are typically non-issues. You’re actually not supposed to put any emphasiss on Japanese words, even though it sounds like Japanese people do.

Anyway, Sudoku should be really easy. It’s like it’s spelled: SOO-DOH-KOO.
But I constantly hear it said as “SOH-DOO-KOO,” “SOH-DOO-KOH” or “SOO-DOH-KOH.” Come on, people — read the letters and process the sounds in your head.

Today was the last straw. In a story about an anime and manga convention, in a not-so-clever effort to lump anime with other Japanese cultural icons, a reporter at the Anchorage Daily News wrote the puzzle (I assume that’s what he was referring to; ain’t nothing else I can think of) as “Son Doku.”