Monday 26 August 2002

Introducing Reimi

Reimi-chan (my new cat)

This is Reimi. I decided to stay with the name I gave her when she first arrived, notwithstanding the problems I mentioned about its pronunciation and meaning. When I consulted an internationally renowned expert on naming animals, she advised me that:

animals, in particular cats and dogs, respond more positively to names that end in a long ‘e’ sound, such as Zoe. If possible, you want to name an animal a two syllable name, ending with the long e sound, such as Joey, Sammy, Kimi, Baby…

That nixed Hanako and Momoko.

The Chinese characters for Reimi

So I considered all the Japanese female names I like that end with a long ‘e’ sound, such as Nami, Fumi, Kimi, and Mami but soon realized that I think of her as Reimi (technically, three syllables in Japanese: re-i-mi). My friend Natsuko got around the fact that she’s not a tall, elegant, aloof cat by suggesting an alternative kanji for rei. So now her name means lovely/companion (rei) and beautiful (mi).

Pronunciation remains a problem. After hearing Natsuko say “Reimi,” my sister Louise asked: “Does it start with an ‘R’ or an ‘L’?”

Both,” replied Natsuko. Or, as Jack Seward explains:

To a layman like myself, the Japanese r sounds like a blending, in equal parts, of the l, d, and r of English. To a scholar of phonetics, it is a single-tap r with the tip of the tongue hitting briefly against the ridge behind the upper teeth and immediately descending. Try saying the English name Eddy, pronouncing the dd only very briefly and touching the tip of the tongue to the ridge behind the upper teeth only very lightly. This should give you a close approximation of the Japanese word eri, meaning collar.

Interestingly, research Professor Patricia Kuhl has conducted over the last 25 years at the University of Washington reveals that, at six months of age, babies of all nationalities can differentiate between sounds no matter what the language. “But over the next six months of life,” as Gregory Roberts writes in this story for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

the babies get even better at perceiving the changes in sounds from their “own” language, the one their parents speak — yet they gradually lose the ability to recognize changes in sounds that don’t exist in their native tongue.

As an example, Kuhl cites the English “r” and “l” sounds, which distinguish between words such as “rake” and “lake.” In the United States, babies from English-speaking homes detect the change from “ra” to “la” when they are 6 months old and get better at it by 12 months.

But in Japanese, there is no such “r” and “l” distinction. In Japan, where babies at 6 months perform as well as their American peers with the “r-l” shift, they can’t tell the difference at a year old.

As for Reimi-chan, she doesn’t seem to care how her name is pronounced, particularly when she’s being called for dinner.

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Jonathon, what a little beauty! And look at those green eyes.

I think your name is an excellent choice, though I would like to hear how you pronounce it. I would say it as "ray-mee", but I have a feeling it's a little more complicated than that.

The Jack Seward explanation of the l-r sounds is very helpful. However, my roommate just peered into my office, giving me a very strange look, because I'm sitting in my chair, repeatedly saying "Eddy. Eddy. Eddy", over and over again.

I told him it was a weblogger thing...

Posted by Burningbird on 25 August 2002 (Comment Permalink)

Reimi is rovery. can't wait to meet.

L x

Posted by linda on 26 August 2002 (Comment Permalink)

This photo is just exquisite she is just so sweet and pretty.

Despite Misako's promise of a new collar for Christmas (four months away) - I would like you to put to your "weblog friends" the following point:

"My sister thinks that Reimi-chan should be given a new collar of her own, and not have to wear Pudding's (her predecessor) collar and "much loved" tag. What do you think?

Posted by Your sister, Pussy on 28 August 2002 (Comment Permalink)

She is absolutely beautiful! Makes me want to get one more :)

Posted by Anita on 29 August 2002 (Comment Permalink)

Thank you Anita. I think she's beautiful too. And she gets prettier day by day. Only one problem: she is very spoiled.

Posted by Jonathon Delacour on 29 August 2002 (Comment Permalink)

Utterly captivating. She looks at you like she means it...


Posted by Tc on 29 January 2003 (Comment Permalink)


Posted by lolacatkin on 21 March 2003 (Comment Permalink)

I've disabled the Referer header, and can't view your picture because of broken hotlinking protection. Please don't forget to check if there even is a Referer header!

Posted by / on 25 August 2003 (Comment Permalink)

[Removed (spam)]

Posted by maro on 14 October 2003 (Comment Permalink)

This discussion is now closed. My thanks to everyone who contributed.

© Copyright 2007 Jonathon Delacour