May have missed the correct answer earlier since I am on Digest mode. Sorry
if this is repetitious. Although I am not a linguist, I have been living in
Tokyo for 12 years and feel comfortable trying to give an explanation about
"Keitai" means "portable" or "handy" in its adjective form. Therefore,
"keitai denwa" means "portable phone" or "handy phone" in direct
translation. North Americans, like me, would probably feel more comfortable
with "cell phone" as the translation, however.
It is interesting that although the word "keitai" has been around a long
time, the katakana word "po-taburu" or "portable" was in popular use for
most portable electronic and other devices. "Keitai" as an adjective for
electronic devices became popular with the advent of cell phones in Japan.
Another interesting point about "keitai" is that it is not used for cordless
phones used around the house or office. Although portable, these cordless
phones cannot be carried outside. This may also be due to the fact that
these phones are tied to normal NTT land-lines and are therefore only
Finally, another interesting thing is that "PHS" phones are not called
"keitai denwa" in popular dialect. This is despite the fact that PHS phones
are completely portable. The reason for this is complex. My theory is that
because PHS phones were far cheaper than normal cell phones when introduced
years ago, the perceived status of cell phones is much greater than PHS
phones. In fact it was not uncommon for cell phone carrying young people in
Tokyo to tease their PHS toting counterparts for having a "dasai" or uncool
PHS phone. This is gradually fading away as the popularity of mobile
computing has given PHS phones a "semi-cool" place to be as a way to connect
to the internet at 64k.
Hope this helps!
Kevin Meyerson, President/CEO
Rainbow Japan Inc.
[ Did you check the archives? http://www.appelsiini.net/keitai-l/ ]
Received on Mon Nov 6 01:35:33 2000