|To Jiu Jitsu...
or not to Ju Jutsu?
We have had repeated calls, especially from a couple of
concerned Finnish citizens, whom having spent a couple of months in Japan have complained
that we have spelled Jiu Jitsu incorrectly.
We do appreciate the concern and the feedback for our pages
and that people are taking so much time and trouble and interest to review them properly,
In this respect we feel you deserve some explanation!
Kanji is the original writing system used in Japan, based
on the original Chinese inheritance / influence.
Since then Japanese has developed so that new writing
systems were developed for coping with modern Japanese specific language and another for
coping with foreign loan words from the western cultures.
The languages and written systems of Japan and the West are
so different that the only way to convert them was using phonetic systems of
There were in fact two of these, known
as Hiragana and Katakana respectively.
The word Dojo is now often written by many as
Doyo (with a
special cedilla over the y). Some write Jiu Jitsu whilst others write it as Ju Jutsu. The
important thing at the end of the day is to maintain an accurate written representation in
your own language which enables you to maintain the correct original pronunciation of the
However, I do realise that this may seem a little difficult
or unusual to some Finnish citizens at least, who seem to have a penchant for adopting the
written loan word (particularly from English) and then changing the pronunciation to
Finnicize it. This often makes it almost totally incomprehensible to native English
speakers, let alone any other Europeans.
If the purpose of language is effective communication then
this strange backward approach seems a little strange to a straight forward Englishman
like myself! But then again, my experience of Finland is that everything in Finland seems
to be done the opposite way to Britain or in many respects to any other country I've been
to for that matter. Perhaps its just one of those cultural identity and independence
My experience is that most Europeans tend to use Ju Jutsu
whilst most English speaking countries such as Britain and America use the spelling Jiu
Jitsu. The pronunciation is however always the same - with a semi-hard 'J' much akin to
the English soft 'G'.
Why is this?
The answer appears to be in the fact that a J in the
English accent is a harder sound as we we normally expect of a consonant. In European
languages, however the ' J ' is a soft almost vowel like sound pronounced 'yi' or
'yee' depending on your mother tongue!
As a result the European spelling is sufficient to recreate
and represent this part of spoken form of the word according to their own languages. In English
speaking countries however this is not the case. English requires the use of an '
i ' in
the spelling to obtain the required pronunciation.
Hence main stream Europeans spell it Ju Jutsu, whilst
English speaking people spell it Jiu Jitsu in conjunction with the different phonetic
However, where the J and soft 'G' is
concerned, the Finnish spelling would still incorrect anyway.
Again, many thanks to all those who called specially to
point out this most important issue to us.
Liikan Jiu Jitsu Club.