'Do is the do of doughnut,' she sang. 'Re is the re of...'
'Hang on, hang on,' I interrupted. 'Did you just say "doughnut"?'
'Yes. "Do is the do of doughnut". Why?'
'Do isn't the do of doughnut! Do is a deer, a female deer!'
'What, you mean the English lyrics are different?'
Over the years, several people have translated The Sound Of Music into Japanese, but the version that stuck is by a woman called Peggy Hayama. Having seen the original stage musical in the early sixties, Hayama realised that particularly in the case of Do-Re-Mi, a literal translation wouldn't work, so not only are her mnemonics different, but because the Japanese alphabet has no 'la' or 'ti' sounds, so are her syllables for the musical notes:
'Do' is the 'do' of 'doughnut'
'Re' is the 're' of 'remon' (er, lemon)
'Mi' is the 'mi' of 'min-na' (everyone)
'Fa' is the 'fa' of 'faito' (fight)
'So' is the 'so' of 'aoi sora' (blue sky)
'Ra' is the 'ra' of 'rappa' (trumpet)
'Shi' is the 'shi' of 'shiawasé' (happy)
Right, let's sing!
Another sound you don't get in Japanese is 'lé', hence a lemon becoming a remon, and just in case you think Hayama is advocating the use of violence, in Japan, using the English word 'fight' is a way of exhorting someone to do their best.
Hayama also added a second verse, which mixes in a couple more mnemonics for good measure:
DOnna toki demo (whatever)
REtsu wo kundé (queue)
MInna tanoshiku (everyone)
FAito wo motté (fight)
SOra wo aoidé (sky)
RAn rararararara (er, la la la)
SHIawasé no uta (happy)
Translated back into English, it goes like this:
Whenever you want
Link your arms
Everybody having fun
Prepare to do your best
Look up at the sky
A happy song
Right, let's sing!
Doughnuts? Fighting? Olanges and Remons? Rodgers and Hammerstein must be turning in their graves. But anyway, just for the sake of completeness, here is Hayama's Japanese version in full: