Despite its small land mass, Japan’s language is filled with dialects, largely the result of mountains, not to mention centuries of civil war and travel restrictions, making it hard for people different from different areas to mix for much of the country’s history. Occasionally these unique speech patterns pop up in unexpected places, like when a coworker from Osaka stubs his toe in the office, or a drinking buddy from Akita’s accent starts showing after the fifth round of beers.
And now, you can hear Japanese dialects in your refrigerator.
The company Solid Alliance manufactures and sells Fridgeezoos, cute animal figures you place inside your refrigerator. Leave the door open too long and they’ll call out to remind you to shut it, providing a handy service for people keen to save electricity.
Sitting right at the intersection of cuteness and technology, Fridgeezoos have already found homes in plenty of refrigerators in Japan, and Solid Alliance has recently expanded the line to include critters that speak with regional accents.
Whereas the original Fridgeezoos are shaped like milk cartons, their dialect-spouting brethren are fashioned after a bottle of milk stopped with a cork. ”Our aim with this series was to give people a warm, comforting, nostalgic feeling,” says a spokesperson from the manufacturer. The designer based the bottle on memories of the milk bottles that used to come with elementary school lunches in Japan, and the cork was added to give the product a softer feel than an all-plastic design.
The backstory for the dialect-speaking Fridgeezoos is that they’ve picked up the lingo after living in Japan for a while. The original batch consisted of Kagoshima, Kyoto, Okinawa, and Iwate dialects, spoken by a polar bear, penguin, walrus, and seal, respectively.
Coming soon is a seal with quips peppered with the Hiroshima emphasizers ken and jake, such as “Aitakatta jake ne/I missed you!” It will also ask you to close the door if it’s feeling taigi/worn out.
Also new is a polar bear that speaks in Fukushima dialect and asks forgetful owners to close the door before it gets gosepparayagekkara/ticked off.
The new seal is voiced by singer/songwriter marhy, who hails from Hiroshima Prefecture. Fukushima native Seiji Kimura, vocalist for the band Zeppet Store, provides the polar bear’s voice.
The corks on top of the animals’ heads are functional too, as pushing them will interrupt their speech with a burp or sneeze. Of course, these sound the same in any region, but the Fukushima polar bear gets extra style points for his use of the word nebbachiita, as people from that prefecture often do after a powerful sneeze.
Solid Alliance says the impetus for adding Hiroshima dialect to the lineup was to juxtapose its ultra-manly sounding speech patterns with the gentle pronunciation of the female marhy. The Fukushima polar bear is the result of numerous direct requests from residents of the prefecture.
Paradoxical purpose aside (you have to leave the door open before they’ll speak), the things are undeniably cute. The newest Fridgeezoos ship to retailers in mid-July, and are expected to sell for the same price as the current dialect series of around 2,000 yen.
Source: Excite News
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