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stratcat
4th November 2000, 01:06
I've had this question for a while and no one has been able to clear it up for me. Some people have said one thing, others have said another thing, and others have yet said something else entirely. The question is: What is the proper way of pronouncing/writing the sufix "Jitsu" as in "Ju-JITSU", or is it "Ju-JUTSU"? "KenJITSU" or "KenJUTSU"; "BuJITSU" or "BuJUTSU" (you get the idea)? Or is it a "You say TomAYto, I say TomAHto; you say PotAYto, I say PotAHto, let's call the whole thing off" sort of deal? Does it actually mean "Art" or "Technique" or something else entirely? What is its proper phonetic pronunciation, etc.

This would greatly clear up a debate that has been ongoing at our dojo for some time. Thanx! :smilejapa

Adam DArcy
5th November 2000, 05:05
Hello Andy,

This question has come up before, but i think it was before the crash, so you may not be able to find it in the archives.

To answer your question, it is a matter of dialect or pronunciation. It is like you said, a "tomayto tomato" kind of thing. The kanji is pronounced "jutsu" which is it's "On" reading, or Chinese-derived reading. It can be read "waza" as well, which is the "Kun" reading, or native Japanese reading. (There could be several other "kun" readings...)

I think that many people (foreigners??) hear "jitsu" when someone says it, or it may be that it is easier for most Japanese to say for example "juujitsu" than it is "juujutsu". Others who see your post may have different ideas or experiences, and i hope they will relate them to us. The thing is, there are many readings of "jitsu" that are meant to be "jitsu" and not "jutsu". In these cases, the "ji" is very clear, like a "gee" sound. I think it may be mostly native english speakers who are confused because we have this "i" sound like the "i" of "slip" or "bit" that is distinct to us. There is no sound like this in Japanese, but we may forget that and assume that a Japanese speaker is saying "jitsu" with this "i" sound. Nevertheless, When used as "technique" or "skill", the "real" pronunciation is "jutsu", not "jitsu".

I do want to say, though, when you romanize any language that wasn't originally written using roman characters, it is my opinion that all the rules of spelling words get thrown out the window. That is why, for example, if someone here in the States or anywhere outside Japan is running a "jujitsu" school, that spelling should be absolutely acceptable, and is not "wrong" at all.

This tendency to say (or hear) "ji" instead of the "ju" sound shows up in other words all the time.

I kind of rambled here, but i hope i was able to clear this up for you.

Adam

[Edited by Adam DArcy on 11-05-2000 at 10:21 AM]

stratcat
6th November 2000, 23:06
Domo Arigato, Mr. Darcy. Your reply has gone a long way to solving the debate at our Dojo. You see, our Ju-JUTSU Sensei insists on the "Jitsu" spelling of the Art (Atemi- Ryu Ju-jitsu)- Not that he can do much about it, as all the banners, school patches and legal paperwork/stationery say "Ju-jitsu". But our Aikido Sensei insists on the "Jutsu" spelling of the sufix (Our schools are closely related and work out of the same Dojo and all of the Ju-jutsu students are Aikido students). So, as you can see, we've been caught between a rock and a hard place.

In any case, I'll be passing on the info you have provided, and we'll be doing some more research on the subject.

Thanx. :smilejapa

kennin
23rd November 2000, 22:27
The most simple way to get it correct?
Ask a Japanese to write jujutsu down in hiragana. He'll write down these characters:
"ju"+"ju"+"tsu". This should be clear as hell. BTW "jitsu" means "tenderness". You might still be training jujitsu, but then it is definitely NOT a samurai art, but a geisha art, if you know what I mean!

stratcat
24th November 2000, 06:00
Thank you, Mr. Kennin. I guess asking a japanese person to write down for us would be the best answer, but unfortunately we don't have access to anyone nearby who knows japanese! Kind of hard to believe, but it's true. So basically we've had to learn it the hard way. Oh well. In any case your explanation is abundantly clear. I have a question though: The characters read "ju"+ "ju"+ "tsu", what is the grammatical meaning of the repeating "ju" characters? What is their meaning in conjunction with one another, and each one by itself? And what would the meaning of "tsu", both in conjunction with the "ju" characters, and by itself? What would they dennote and what would they connote?

I know I'm being annoyingly nitpicky, gomen nasai :smilejapa, but these are important particulars for us, as I've said we don't really have access to native japanese speakers. :confused:

Chi
24th November 2000, 10:34
I heard a vague rumour that it was to do with an old system of romanisation, that would transliterate the word as "jitsu".

However, at least two of the the currently accepted romaji standards nowadays (modified Hepburn, and another I've forgotten the name of :)) transliterate the word as "jutsu". Thats good enough for me. To me "Jitsu" means "truth" (amongst other things) rather than "art,technique".


Stratcat said:
The characters read "ju"+ "ju"+ "tsu", what is the grammatical meaning of the repeating "ju" characters? What is their meaning in conjunction with one another, and each one by itself? And what would the meaning of "tsu", both in conjunction with the "ju" characters, and by itself? What would they dennote and what would they connote?


To understand the meaning you need to look at the orginal kanji for jujutsu. "ju jutsu" is comprised of two kanji. I'm not at all sure what the first means or how it is written (is it perhaps ?_ as the first kanji in Judo? In which case it would mena "gentleness" - either way, I don't know for sure, so it would be best to wait for someone who does know for sure to post), but the second "jutsu" is written as ?p (once again, apologies if you cannot view shift-JIS characters).

"Gentle art" is my guess.

Regards,

Chris.

kennin
25th November 2000, 00:34
Originally posted by stratcat
Thank you, Mr. Kennin.

Mr. Kennin? Thanks a lot, but no mister around here! Just call me Achim, I don't like the mister thingy between martial artist


The characters read "ju"+ "ju"+ "tsu", what is the grammatical meaning of the repeating "ju" characters? What is their meaning in conjunction with one another, and each one by itself? And what would the meaning of "tsu", both in conjunction with the "ju" characters, and by itself? What would they dennote and what would they connote?

Oh, I see... I have to explain a little more.
Well, in the Japanese language, there are two kinds of alphabet: the "kanji" and the "kana", where the "kana" can be devided into "hiragana" and "katakana".
The kanji are the Chinese pictograms with a meaning of each word. When you want to write "jujutsu" in "kanji" you'll get "ju"+"jutsu", where "ju" means "soft" or "gentle" -the same "ju" as in "judô" indeed- while "jutsu" means "skill", "technique" or "art". I'd stick for skill here, BTW.
But then we've got the "kana". "Kana" are two sets of alphabet, containing 50 or so symbols. These symbols are pure phonetical syllables.
THAT's what I meant when I told to let it be written down in kana. It will be written: two times the phonetical "ju" and one time the phonetical "tsu", all of them with no seperate meaning. There would be no reason why you'd read "jujitsu" when you've got two times exactly the same phonetical "ju".
Oh, of course "jitsu" isn't tenderness, it's truth indeed. How stupid of me. SensAi means tenderness.
It's another very strange misunderstanding: the Japanese word for teacher is "sensei", pronounced something like "sensey", where the "ey" is pronounced like the "a" in "ABC". For one -very strange- reason, there are people who think it would be sensai, which doesn't mean teacher but tenderness.
I hope this helps! :toast:

yamatodamashii
25th November 2000, 02:24
Just to further confuse things... it varies by dialect, as well.
"Jutsu" is the accepted Romaji spelling (I don't know if it's been mentioned, but the correct pronunciation is "joots"); however, in Hogan (Okinawa dialect) it becomes "jitsu" (pronounced "jeets").

I believe that the common "jitsu" ("jitsoo") pronounciation comes from 19th century British attempts to force Japanese into English speech patterns (they were responsible for a LOT of mispronounciations).
Also, Brazilians do not use the Japanese Romaji forms (for whatever reason), so the Brazilian styles ARE correctly (?) referred to as "Brazilian Jiu Jitsu".

Joseph Svinth
25th November 2000, 08:42
BJJ is indeed properly called jiu-jitsu, and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu should be capitalized because it is a registered trademark. Ditto for Hwarang Do, which is another registered trademark.

According to Webster, the preferable American English spelling is jujitsu. The proper Hepburn transliteration, however, is jűjutsu, and for this reason the Japanese American National Museum uses the word with diacritical and italics. For my part, I think diacriticals and italics are a bit pedantic for general readers and so like many people compromise on jujutsu.

But never fear -- the problems go the other way even more profoundly. If you doubt this, ask a Japanese to accurately transliterate Lollapolluza or to say Leaping Lizards or Lilly's Thighs...

As for Basil Hall Chamberlain and Dr. Hepburn, I don't think they were trying so much to be imperial as to romanize the words the way they heard them spoken in the Yokohama and Tokyo dialects. And in fairness to the English, it was an Englishman who wrote the first dictionary of Ainu in any language. See http://www2s.biglobe.ne.jp/~matu-emk/bachel.html

BTW, for a fun website on Japanese via computer, see "The Languages of the World by Computers and the Internet, Japanese" http://www.threeweb.ad.jp/logos/japanese.html ; discussions of dialect include Okinawa.