Originally Posted by PHV,27 Nov. 2004, 8:04
No, it's because the charicature Japanese person in Western comedy pronounces all their L's as Rs.
Be that as it may, such mispellings are common on Japanese shoe websites that I've seen.
Just to clear this up - in Japanese, there is no distinction between the R and the L sound. Both of these English phonetic sounds are represented by one Japanese symbol, and since they have been conditioned not to tell the difference between R and L, they switch in and out when it seems more appopriate. What makes it funny is that the appropriateness is based on Japanese language's own linguistic standards, not on English, so native Japanese speakers seem to mess up the R and L in extra funny places when typing or speaking English. Some people consider the "L-line" of the Japanese kana
(phonetic alphabet) to technically be designated as "R," while a good amount of Japanese speakers consider it to be "L" because that is closer to how they actually pronounce it. In reality, you cannot define it as "R" or "L" because to Japanese speakers, it is one sound, and is represented by one Japanese symbol. Anyone who knows a limited amount of Japanese or Linguistics will know exactly what I'm talking about but it will probably sound cryptic to others. In short - it's not a racist joke. I believe that other eastern Asian countries have similar issues with R's and L's (although not to the extent that Trey Parker and Matt Stone seem to think it) because most of the countries received their intellectual culture from Chinese scholars. Japan, for example, learned most of their information (including 14,000 writing symbols and ink painting style) from China. I believe Korea did as well. Sorry for that long bit - I really love Linguistics, and Japanese language.