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Zune, A Hebrew Curse Word? Nope

There’s some discussion as to whether Zune, the name taken by Microsoft’s media player, is a curse word in Hebrew (the language of Jews and Israel). There’s even a cartoon about the subject. However, Microsoft doesn’t need to worry, as the translation is mostly off the mark. Zune, spelled exactly as it is pronounced (and you can bet Microsoft will be careful about this), is in Hebrew זון, in which the first letter is a Z sound, the middle is an “ooh” vowel, and the last letter in an N.

This is similar to two different “dirty” words. זיון, or Z-Ay-U-N, is Hebrew for “penis”. The word for “whore” is זו� ה, or Z-O-N-Ah. In addition, לזיין, or L-Z-Ay-I-N, can mean “fuck”. While these words are very similar to זון/Zune, I don’t think any native Hebrew speaker is going to mistake the two, and say, “I’m not paying for a Microsoft Prostitute”. It is possible, if you accent enough on the U in Zune, to wind up with the first one, זיון, but there are worse things. After all, it’ll get people talking about the Zune’s large, um, screen.
(via Digg)


Just to throw this in somewhere, Gear Live has a video with a hands-on demonstration by a beta tester of the Zune, with sexy user interface shots.
(via Digg)

October 6th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General, Humor, Windows Media, Zune | 8 comments
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8 Comments »

  1. A couple of mistakes there.

    זיון is Zi-Yu-N and means an “intercourse”.
    זין is Za-Yi-N and means “penis”.
    לזיין is Le-Za-Ye-N and means “to fuck”.

    Also, the reason people have been thinking that Zune is זיון is because it’s for playing tunes (Ti-Yu-N).

    [referenced by digg]

    Comment by Omer van Kloeten | 10/20/2006

  2. Z, A Hebrew Curse Word? Nope…

    Microsoft doesnt need to worry, as the translation is mostly off the mark. Zune, spelled exactly as it is pronounced (and you can bet Microsoft will be careful about this), is in Hebrew זון, in which the first letter is a Z sound, the…

    Trackback by Anonymous | 10/24/2006

  3. i don’t think so. Zune is probably spelled just like: Muse, Mule, Dune.

    so it should be pronounced: Z-YOON.
    and not: ZOON

    which is darn close to the Hebrew ZI-YOON (זיון)

    also, you would write it exactly the same, so it would be even more funny to read about it.

    Comment by eli | 11/5/2006

  4. Zune is pronounced ZOON, not Z-YOON, regardless of grammar rules, regardless of its similarity in structure to other words. It’s a tough call, still, what hebrew word it should be. I suspect that when Zune hits Israel, they will have a different name for it, like Zone.

    Comment by Nathan Weinberg | 11/5/2006

  5. Maybe in Hebrew the word Zune reminds something, but in Greek it means “these live” or “they live”.

    check here.

    Comment by Zune-Online.com | 11/5/2006

  6. Next time try naming the product with a number.

    Comment by Igor | 11/5/2006

  7. Are you sure? i don’t live in the states, so i don’t know how you pronounce it there. i actualy thought they switched it to ZOON just in israel.

    still, i know they checked with a hebrew grammer PHD about this question, so maybe they gave it a last minute change because of it (although its hard to belive, the market in israel is quite small…)

    Comment by eli | 11/6/2006

  8. Eli: A lot of websites “report” that Zune is pronounced Zy-oon, which is completely incorrect, and shows you how much research they’ve done. Here’s a video of Microsoft employees on a Microsoft marketing website showing off the Zune, pronouncing it ZOON multiple times:

    http://on10.net/blogs/duncan/sharing-songs-and-pictures-with-the-zune/

    Comment by Nathan Weinberg | 11/6/2006

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