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Thread: Pronunciation of Zen terms

  1. #1

    Pronunciation of Zen terms

    Okay, so the last time I was a "real" Zendo I was a bit surprised to hear them pronounce sesshin with the stress on the second syllable, which by the way is not a long e sound but a short i sound. Before I stumble on anything and/or further entrench a bad habit, let's just go over the exact way to say other such terminology. Shikantaza, for example. Oryoki? Rakusu?

    -Mike

  2. #2

    Re: Pronunciation of Zen terms

    Quote Originally Posted by spinpsychle
    Okay, so the last time I was a "real" Zendo I was a bit surprised to hear them pronounce sesshin with the stress on the second syllable, which by the way is not a long e sound but a short i sound. Before I stumble on anything and/or further entrench a bad habit, let's just go over the exact way to say other such terminology. Shikantaza, for example. Oryoki? Rakusu?

    -Mike
    Okay, they are pronounced "Shikantaza" and "Oryoki". :wink:

    Actually, yes, in Japanese these have a certain pronunciation (which, in most cases, is already a Japanese bastardization of the original Chinese ... which is sometimes itself derived from Sanskrit ... and Pali). Having lived and taught in both Japan, Europe and America for a few years, I have seen that many of these words are getting Westernized (when I visited a Sangha in Paris, they pronounced words like "Samadhi" and "Bodhisattva" in such a luscious way, it made my heart skip a beat).

    So, do not worry about it too much.

    If you listen to me on the 'sit-a-longs', you will probably hear me bounce back and forth between a Japanese and Yankee way of pronouncing terms.

    But these terms are beyond culture or place, and just being Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese or Indian has little to do with it. The "right" way to say them is not about that.

    Gassho, Jundo

    Ps- Treeleaf is a "real" Zendo. :evil:

  3. #3
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Pronunciation of Zen terms

    Gassho. Is it 'Gas-hoe' or 'Ga-show'?

  4. #4

    Re: Pronunciation of Zen terms

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    Ps- Treeleaf is a "real" Zendo. :evil:
    Oh, I know! It's one of those things where choice of wording can be tricky, like where even though I have no independent self, I still have to refer to me somehow, so I may still use the word "self." How else may I say it? Um. One that reinforces the illusion of permanence by having a terrestrial meeting space, form world address, and so on? I thought it easier to throw out some quotation marks and hope nobody notices. That sure worked. :wink:

    - Mike

  5. #5

    Re: Pronunciation of Zen terms

    Quote Originally Posted by spinpsychle
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    Ps- Treeleaf is a "real" Zendo. :evil:
    Oh, I know! It's one of those things where choice of wording can be tricky, like where even though I have no independent self, I still have to refer to me somehow, so I may still use the word "self." How else may I say it? Um. One that reinforces the illusion of permanence by having a terrestrial meeting space, form world address, and so on? I thought it easier to throw out some quotation marks and hope nobody notices. That sure worked. :wink:

    - Mike
    Oh, you are absolutely -not- "real". 8)

  6. #6

    Re: Pronunciation of Zen terms

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Gassho. Is it 'Gas-hoe' or 'Ga-show'?
    That's what I want to know!

    I googled it and found a place that says that it's pronounced, "gah sho."

  7. #7

    Re: Pronunciation of Zen terms

    Quote Originally Posted by Brock
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Gassho. Is it 'Gas-hoe' or 'Ga-show'?
    That's what I want to know!

    I googled it and found a place that says that it's pronounced, "gah sho."
    Ga (rhymes with "ma and pa") and sho (like "let's go to a show")

    Gassho, Jundo

  8. #8

    Re: Pronunciation of Zen terms

    I always pronounce Spanish language wise:

    Ga-cho.

    Which makes laugh cuz it's also the word for "meany" or "mean" in Spanish. :mrgreen:

  9. #9

    Re: Pronunciation of Zen terms

    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista
    I always pronounce Spanish language wise:

    Ga-cho.
    Gesundheit!

  10. #10

    Re: Pronunciation of Zen terms

    Gassho = Ga show
    Interesting. I've Always pronounced it Ga sow according to how I've heard it.


    Will

  11. #11

    Re: Pronunciation of Zen terms

    What about the "Shakyamuni" in Shakyamuni Buddha?

  12. #12

    Re: Pronunciation of Zen terms

    Quote Originally Posted by Brock
    What about the "Shakyamuni" in Shakyamuni Buddha?
    Rhymes with "Shake your Booty" :twisted:

    Actually, more like "shock" (as in "shock absorber") ya (as in German "ya = yes") "muni" (rhymes with "loony" of "loonytunes")

    You know, I could make an audio/video tape. My concern is that I still have a bit of an unavoidable American accent when I speak Japanese and Chinese. (Like asking a fellow from Shanghai how to pronounce the Queen's English). But, I may do it with a Japanese friend. Let me think about the best way.

    Gassho, Jundo (as in the "the month of June" and "Doe a dear")

  13. #13

    Re: Pronunciation of Zen terms

    Quote Originally Posted by Brock
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Gassho. Is it 'Gas-hoe' or 'Ga-show'?
    That's what I want to know!

    I googled it and found a place that says that it's pronounced, "gah sho."
    Hi,

    I have always heard it pronounced as "gah sho" with equal emphasis of both sylables.

    gassho,
    jinho

  14. #14

    Re: Pronunciation of Zen terms

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by Brock
    What about the "Shakyamuni" in Shakyamuni Buddha?
    Rhymes with "Shake your Booty" :twisted:
    :roll: Don't be afraid he's a Zen Master :mrgreen:

    It's funny, the discussion you are having about pronunciation.
    I've never heard something like that, it must be because of the French language. We always pronunciate the words as they are written, of course we don't say Avalokiteshvara or sattipattana sutta in every sentence.

    It's just funny to see how our mothertongue conditionate the way we think or act...

    Gassho,
    Luis

  15. #15

    Re: Pronunciation of Zen terms

    Howz about a pronunciation for Eihei? In my head its 'ee-hay'

  16. #16

    Re: Pronunciation of Zen terms

    Luis
    It's just funny to see how our mothertongue conditionate the way we think or act...
    Which has no bearing on true Zen practice.

    Most of the time I think we can stick to: "Please pass the salt."

    W

  17. #17

    Re: Pronunciation of Zen terms

    Quote Originally Posted by will

    Most of the time I think we can stick to: "Please pass the salt."

    W
    Salt alone makes a pretty limited diet. As you know, Will, it is worth mentioning that Master Dogen was not so enthusiastic about this "Zen as the Way beyond Words & Letters" perspective.

    I mean, don't get me wrong, we are chock full of tastes and wisdom that is not to be expressed in Words & Letters ... we are as "Beyond Words & Letters" as all the Zen folks.

    But Dogen (who often held perfectly contradictory teachings without the least contradiction) ALSO held that well chosen "Words & Letters", were the manifestation of the Buddha's Truth in each word & letter. Words and Letters could bring the Buddha's Truth to life ... and not merely as "fingers pointing to the moon", but as the moonlinghtshining through the words and letters. That is why he was such a prolific ... and creative ... writer.

    And Toby ...

    Howz about a pronunciation for Eihei? In my head its 'ee-hay'
    "A" as in "ABC", "Hay" as in "What Horses Eat".

    Dogen was "Eihei Dogen" because he was the founder of "Eiheiji" temple. While nobody is completely sure, the name is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese Yung-p'ing era (58-75 CE, meaning "Eternal Peace") when Buddhism is said to have been first introduced in China.

    Now you know. That and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee.

    Gassho, J

  18. #18

    Re: Pronunciation of Zen terms

    it is worth mentioning that Master Dogen was not so enthusiastic about this "Zen as the Way beyond Words & Letters" perspective.
    Ya I know. We do what we do. But where exactly does it say we "need" to express it?

    Anyway, your right on that one and I'm not taking a side either way.

    That post was more of a "not worrying too much about all the talk all the time" (there's a lot of that that goes on), type thing. You know, sit, pass the salt, eat, etc.. We need that sometimes.

    I didn't literally mean "pass the salt" is all we need That would be weird. You know that.

    Gassho _/_

    W

  19. #19
    Hello,

    Which is 'Rohatsu', 'Rohachi', 'Rohats'?

    Thank you.


    Gassho
    Myosha sat today
    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Myosha View Post
    Hello,

    Which is 'Rohatsu', 'Rohachi', 'Rohats'?

    Thank you.


    Gassho
    Myosha sat today
    First off, where did you find this ancient thread?

    Rohatsu. Ro is very much like row in "row your boat" ... hatsu is very much like a plural of "hot" from "hot dish" ... hots. Sometimes the "u" sound at the end is vocalized very subtly and lightly, pronounced as in the French word for water, eau.

    Simpler is just to hear me say it at the start of our Retreat ... 1:54 mark here ..



    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  21. #21
    Hello,

    Thank you.

    Q: What is this "ancient" you speak of?^^


    Gassho
    Myosha sat today
    Last edited by Myosha; 12-08-2015 at 02:43 AM.
    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Ga (rhymes with "ma and pa") and sho (like "let's go to a show")

    Gassho, Jundo
    I was under the impression that every "syllable" had equal emphasis in Japanese. I have been saying ga-s-sho, thogh the final vowel sound can be trimmed to an ending mouth shape, rather than being pronounced fully. You do live there, though, so I imagine you know more about it than me. lol

    Gassssssssshhhhhiiibll8bleargb....
    Carey sat today

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by scareyw View Post
    I was under the impression that every "syllable" had equal emphasis in Japanese. I have been saying ga-s-sho, thogh the final vowel sound can be trimmed to an ending mouth shape, rather than being pronounced fully. You do live there, though, so I imagine you know more about it than me. lol

    Gassssssssshhhhhiiibll8bleargb....
    Carey sat today
    Hi Carey,

    I am not a linguist, but I will say that some syllables and sounds are emphasized more than others in pitch, some silent or barely voiced. SweepingZen used to have a glossary of Zen words with sound files pronounced by Koun Franz (who, although a yankee like me, lived in Japan for years). However, I cannot find it, and it seems they may have taken it down. I need to ask Adam of SweepingZen why.

    My favorite example is Hashi (bridge 橋) and Hashi (chopsticks箸) and Hashi (edge端). Can you make out the difference (from 1:00 mark here)?



    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  24. #24
    Treeleaf Unsui / Engineer Sekishi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Virginia, USA
    Oh, I want to play too!

    kesa: kay-suh OR keh-suh
    rakusu: ra-ku-soo OR rock-soo
    sesshin: seh-sheen OR seh-shin
    sho shu jo (end of the robe verse): show shoe joe OR show shoe yo

    Gah-show,
    Sekishi
    #sattoday
    jikidō sekishi
    直道 石志

    As a novice priest-in-training, this is simply an expression of my opinion. Please take it with a grain of salt.

  25. #25
    Hi Sekishi,

    I suggest you keep your ears open listening to me and others, especially native Japanese. You have been around here long enough that you have probably heard most of those words 1000 times each.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 12-08-2015 at 04:30 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  26. #26
    Treeleaf Unsui / Engineer Sekishi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Virginia, USA
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    I suggest you keep your ears open listening to me and others, especially native Japanese. You have been around here long enough that you have probably heard most of those words 1000 times each.
    I do. Carefully.

    And for the first three, I hear both pronunciations around Treeleaf.

    For the last (jo/yo) it is the difference in what I generally hear at Treeleaf (jo) vs. my local sitting group (yo). For that one I just follow the "when in Rome" rule.

    Gassho,
    Sekishi
    #sattoday
    jikidō sekishi
    直道 石志

    As a novice priest-in-training, this is simply an expression of my opinion. Please take it with a grain of salt.

  27. #27
    Hmmm.

    kesa: Rhymes with the second syllable of "countessa"
    rakusu: "rock" + woman's name "sue" (some folks may voice the "u" more, as "rock-eau-sue", but that is optional. No "eau", as in French "water" is fine with or without).
    sesshin: Very close to "session"
    sho shu jo (end of the robe verse): show shoe joe (as in the man's name)

    Ga (rhymes with "ma and pa") and sho (like "let's go to a show")

    Jun (like the month of June) do (as in bread dough)

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 12-09-2015 at 02:17 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  28. #28
    Good thread I'm glad to have come across it. For a newbie like me it's perfect.

    Gassho

    Clarisse Sat2Day


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  29. #29
    Treeleaf Unsui / Engineer Sekishi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Virginia, USA
    Thank you June-dough, this was very helpful.

    Gassho,
    Sekishi
    #sattoday
    jikidō sekishi
    直道 石志

    As a novice priest-in-training, this is simply an expression of my opinion. Please take it with a grain of salt.

  30. #30
    I added a Rakusu addendum ...

    rakusu: "rock" + woman's name "sue" (some folks may voice the "u" more, as "rock-eau-sue", but that is optional. The "eau", as in French "water", is fine with or without).
    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  31. #31
    G-string



    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_
    "The Great Way is not difficult. It only excludes picking and choosing. Once you stop loving and hating, It will enlighten itself." - Xin Xin Ming

  32. #32
    What an interesting thread.. Here in the Ukraine (and Russia too) folks pronounce
    the Zen terms kinda Eastern way, like.. "Ga-syo", "Dzen-do", "Dza-dzen", "Dzyu-Kai"

    Gasyo,
    Sergey
    sat-today

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Sergey Tsarenko View Post
    What an interesting thread.. Here in the Ukraine (and Russia too) folks pronounce
    the Zen terms kinda Eastern way, like.. "Ga-syo", "Dzen-do", "Dza-dzen", "Dzyu-Kai"

    Gasyo,
    Sergey
    sat-today
    Well. Sergey, most of these "Japanese" words are actually modern Japanese pronunciations which are often quite different from how they were pronounced by 13th Century Japanese, who were mispronouncing Chinese words, many of which they learned from people speaking a local Chinese dialect, which words themselves were sometimes rough translations or phonetic attempts from Sanskrit or the like ...

    ... all now taught to you by an American guy with a slight New York accent ...

    ... in this "way beyond words and letters."

    Gasyo, Jundo

    Sat Dzadzen Today
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Well. Sergey, most of these "Japanese" words are actually modern Japanese pronunciations which are often quite different from how they were pronounced by 13th Century Japanese, who were mispronouncing Chinese words, many of which they learned from people speaking a local Chinese dialect, which words themselves were sometimes rough translations or phonetic attempts from Sanskrit or the like ...

    ... all now taught to you by an American guy with a slight New York accent ...

    ... in this "way beyond words and letters."

    Gasyo, Jundo

    Sat Dzadzen Today
    This is all interesting indeed.
    Thank you Jundo for clarifying this.

    Gassho
    Sergey
    ST

  35. #35
    Funny thing about the word "Zen" itself ...

    Back centuries ago both Japanese and Chinese were pronounced quite differently from today, plus there were all kinds of local dialects. The great translator "Red Pine" (Bill Porter) says that the Japanese word "Zen" is closer to how the Chinese used to pronounce the Kanji which the Chinese now read "Ch'an", especially in the dialect in which there was the most interchange between Japan and China back then (read page 3 here) ...

    https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=...20word&f=false

    So, we are actually closer to old Chinese in our saying "Zen" than most of the modern Chinese!

    And where does this "Zen" come from? zen (ch'an) is the abbreviation of zenna (ch'an-na) from Sanskrit dhyana, which simply means "meditation."

    "Za" means "seated", so Zazen is "seated Zen".

    Notice that Red Pine says "dzian" ... which looks a bit like Ukranian!

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 12-09-2015 at 02:41 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  36. #36
    Notice that Red Pine says "dzian" ... which looks a bit like Ukranian!
    Yes, lovely.. I have also learned lately that Sanskrit and Russian have a lot of root words in common
    which is pretty interesting fact as well.

    Thank you for the link to the good book. "A Pilgrimage To China" is now included in the list for 2016.

    Gassho
    Sergey
    sat-today

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