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Isn't it an issue that 不吉, 富士通 sound alike? At least for non-Japanese speakers. For Western companies, they would avoid any even slight associations with something negative.

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  • What makes you think these sound alike? [不吉]{ふきつ} and [富士通]{ふじつう}.
    – A.Ellett
    Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 1:58
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    What is your native language?
    – Angelos
    Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 2:54
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    @A.Ellett presumably using the English pronunciation of Fujitsu to start from (and possibly an anglicized "fukitsu" as well), not the pronunciation of 富士通
    – Leebo
    Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 2:57

2 Answers 2

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They sound completely different. Native speakers, at least, will never have the idea that the two sound similar.

  • じ and き are different characters with totally different sounds. Or do you think "G" and "key" sound alike in English?
  • Only 富士通 has an elongated つ at the end, which is a very important distinguishing feature in Japanese. See: Are there many occurrences of elongated syllables throughout the language?
  • Most importantly, they show different pitch accent patterns: 不吉 (ふきつ【LHH】) is heiban (flat), whereas 富士通 (ふじつう【LHLL】) is nakatakadaka (middle-high). This means it's difficult to confuse them even in an extremely noisy environment where one cannot distinguish "G" and "key".

Foreigners who don't give a damn about accents and long vowels might think fujitsu and fukitsu are a bit alike, but I wonder how many of them know the word 不吉.

By the way, there is even a word 不実 (ふじつ【HLL】) which means "unfaithful". Even though 不実 and 富士通 are romanized the same way (Fujitsu), they sound totally different to native Japanese speakers because of the difference in the vowel length and the accents. Also note that many English words sound alike to those who don't speak English. For example flight and fright sound identical to Japanese speakers.

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Japanese has many more homonyms than English. While English has more than 3,000 syllables (some say tens of thousands), Japanese has only about 100. For example, there are 48 different kanji for "kosho" alone. Therefore, I think it is safe to say that the Japanese language has evolved into an expression that takes meaning from context, and therefore does not place as much importance on the similarity of sounds.

The following is a quote from the origin of fujitsu's company name. https://www.fujitsu.com/jp/about/brand-values/

<「富士電機製造(株)」の社名の由来> 古河電気工業(株)とドイツのシーメンス社が、発電機・電動機国産化のため、1923年に富士電機製造(株)を設立。社名の由来は、「古河」の「フ」と、「ジーメンス」(ドイツ語読み)の「ジ」を取った「フジ(富士)」から。(日本一の富士山をイメージ)

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    I hope you are not thinking 古書, 故障, 胡椒, 高所, and 交渉 all sound the same.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 5:42

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