■ thank you
□ This is based on a pun. In Japanese, "thank you" is pronounced "san kyuu." "San kyuu" in turn literally means three (3) nine (9) in Japanese.
When one is speaking, "three nine" can then be rephrased as "thirty-nine," said either in Japanese (sanjuu kyuu) or in English (saatii nain).
In katakana, the word is also spelled サンキュー. In conversation and informal writing, the last vowel is often shortened: サンキュ.
"39" is used an abbreviation meaning "thank you" in phone pager (ポケットベル) messages.
A chain of convenience stores in Japan spells its name "Sunkus." The origin of that name may seem obscure until one hears the name pronounced in Japanese: サンクス ("thanks").
Wordplay is common in Japanese and is called 言葉の遊び.
◇ Examples from the Web:
３９THANK-YOU３９さんきゅ３９ありがとう３９ (from "39THANK")
(This carpet-and-drapery shop presumably chose the name サンキュー because of its suggestion of "thank you," and the shop got a phone number to go with the name.)
This entry was created by Benjamin Barrett, with additional contributions by Tom Gally and Maynard Hogg.
Created 2001-09-04. Comment about phone pagers added by MH 2001-09-06.