“Microsoft Corp. market researchers in Quebec found themselves in a potential linguistic pickle when they conducted consumer test-runs of the digital music player Zune, which the company officially announced on Thursday will be competing by Christmas with Apple’s hugely successful iPod,” Randy Boswell reports for CanWest News Service.

Boswell reports, “A Microsoft spokeswoman in Montreal told CanWest News Service that ‘it was pointed out to us’ during focus groups in the province that the proposed brand name sounded much like a French-Canadian term used as a euphemism for penis or vagina.”

Boswell reports, “The French word ‘zoune’ and the variant ‘bizoune’ typically serve as a less jolting way of referring to male or female genitalia when addressing children.”

‘It’s very much slang,’ said Nathalie Bergeron, noting that the words are not common parts of French-Canadian vocabulary. ‘Microsoft did do extensive customer research in Quebec,’ Bergeron added, and concluded that the name Zune was ‘very effective’ and posed no risk of becoming known as an embarrassing double entendre,” Boswell reports.

“But sounds of snickering over the apparent Zune branding predicament have been emanating for months from technology-obsessed corners of the Internet,” Boswell reports. “In July, during an earlier round of publicity about Microsoft’s plans to introduce Zune, the British-based business news site theinquirer.net revealed the potential ‘naming conundrum” in Quebec under the headline: ‘My Zune is bigger than yours.'”

Full article here.

[Attribution: Macworld UK. Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “jendensam” for the heads up.]

Similarly, last week, The Inquirer’s Nick Farrell reported, “Microsoft Marketers are having a hell of a job establishing the super soaraway operating system in the pecking order in Latvia. Apparently, whenever they ring up peddling Vista, Latvians burst out laughing because the name means ‘chicken.'”

Full article here.
It almost – almost – goes without saying that the first unlucky soul who buys a Zune then plugs and prays it into his Windows Vista PC causing its inevitable crash will give a whole new meaning to the phrase “choking the chicken.”

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