Rotsa ruck

Listening to an Allan Sherman song, he uses the phrase ‘Rotsa ruck’. Obviously, this is the ‘Japanese’ pronunciation of ‘Lotsa luck.’ I remember hearing it used in TV shows and by people my parents’ age when I was a kid. I can imagine a popular movie or radio show where a Japanese character says it, and it’s picked up by the protagonist, who uses it as a wry comment.

When did the ‘Japanese’ pronunciation ‘Rotsa ruck’ come about? And from where? Movie? Radio show? Somewhere else?


It wasn’t Scooby Doo?

Nope. Lotsa Luck was on Allan in Wonderland, which was released in 1964. I don’t think Scooby Doo came out until the late-'60s.

And Buddy Hackett had a sketch as a waiter in a Chinese restaurant that also worked the r/l difference between English and Asian languages.

Simply put (probably too simply), there aren’t exact equivalences to English’s L and R in Japanese and some other Asian languages. World War II made it acceptable to poke fun at the enemy’s inability to properly speak English. Hence, comedy gold.

Now it would be politically incorrect and offensive.

Not familiar with Phil Ford, but apparently he helped to usher it into the lexicon.

The R sound is replaced by the L sound in Chinese Languages and the L sound is replaced by the R sound in Japanese.
It drives me up the wall when they get it wrong in movies and TV, esp in that Chinese Restaurant scene in A Christmas Story. It wouldn’t be Fa RA RA RA RA, Chinese people can pronounced L’s just fine!


No, it’s still comedy gold.

Heck, Allan Sherman even poked fun at English-speaking people’s ability to speak English!

Recall that his hit flagship song was “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh”

ETA: Hey, you’re showing you age if you still remember (let alone still listen to) Allan Sherman! (One of my favorites was “Good Advice”)

Allan Sherman and MAD Magazine were my introduction to Jewish humor. My Zelda, Sarah Jackman, Shticks and Stones, Al ‘n’ Yetta, the list goes on and on.

Looking back I’m amazed at how tame humor was before Lenny Bruce and George Carlin (to name just two).

Della Reese stuck it in Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone in 1961.

The song’s from 1930, but the official lyrics have “lots of love” not “rotsa ruck.”

Meh. Allan Sherman, The Who, Green Day, Röyksopp… It’s all good.

Almost certainly how it was made popular in the late 1950s. They may have actually invented it.

That sounds reasonable. His comedy was before my time though, and I have not found a clip of his routine.

Rotsa ruck, Phil.

It turned into a catch phrase in the '50s when Phil Ford and Mimi Hines appeared on Sullivan, more than once.

I disagree. Japanese people cannot hear any difference between L and R. Because their language does not use this phonetic distinction, they lose the ability to hear it in infancy. However, the most common consequence, when the Japanese try to speak English, is that they pronounce R as L. I once heard a Japanese lecturer (whose English was, in nearly all other respects, excellent, and scarcely even accented) tell his audience that if they wanted to emulate Japan’s economic success (this was back in the '60s), Europeans ought to eat more lice (it was meant as a joke, but fell completely flat due to the mispronunciation). He distinctly said “lice”. However, the confusion does sometimes also go in the other direction too, particularly with the written word, as with this CD by Eric Crapton.

“Rotsa ruck” is probably not something a Japanese person would say - it is just English speakers getting the Japanese confusion backward. A Japanese might, however, say “Lound the lugged locks the lagged lascal lan”.

I am not persuaded that the Chinese mix up R and L at all. The notion that they do probably arises from the inability of many westerners to tell the Chinese from the Japanese.

The Japanese /r/ is a sound somewhere between English /r/ and /l/. Wikipedia provides some examples: the syllable “ro” and the word “ramen”.

Yes, but they don’t mind transposing the two letters in pronunciation.

handsomeharry anecdote:

I took a conversational Mandarin class some years back, with a Chinese instructor. (No, not a mandolin class.) We not only had to do the conversation bit, but, we had to choose a different person in class to address each time that we spoke. We had to call on the person by name, and we didn’t get to leave our chairs. I was tired of calling on the ones in my immediate areas, but, I didn’t know anybody else in the class by name, so, I watched the instructor as he called on the students.
Naturally, I had had my eye on the one with the big tits, and the instructor had called her regularly, by her name, Carrie.
So, the instructor picked me one day to begin the conversations. I, surprisingly, had studied the lesson and was ready. I said, in Mandarin, of course, “Carrie, how are your parents?” No answer. Wait. Wait. Confused looks. Wait. Wait. Instructor:
handsomeharry, can you repeat that?” Repeat. Wait. Wait. By this time, the class was ready to move on, so, they were helping me along. Who? Who? I repeated “Carrie.” Who? Who? Who? More confused looks. I looked around, Ms. Wonderjugs was still there, so I wasn’t totally delusional. “Carrie!” OK. People were amazed by the very name. I was totally frustrated, and the people were looking around and saying, yet more, Who? Who? Who?
I finally got up, walked over and pointed at Carrie. “Carrie! Carrie! This girl! Right here!” Now, they all knew of whom I spoke. Almost in unison, the class said:“Do you mean Kelly?”
Suffice it to say, the Chinese instructor had been calling Kelly by the name Kerry.

So, while the Chinese are perfectly capable of making the sound “L”, they may not feel the pressing need to use it in the same context as we here in the States do.

It’s fascinating to me that for Japanese people, L and R are pretty much indistinguishable.

For me, they live in entirely different categories - one’s yin, the other one’s yang. L is a liquid and lush dollop, R is raspy, scratchy and dry. L is blue. R is a rust color.

Is is possible that “Rotsa Ruck” was used as an identifying shibboleth during the war, in much the same way American soldiers would use “Lollapalooza” as a password, knowing the Japanese couldn’t pronounce it correctly?