How do you pronounce Suzuki Roshi's given name Shunryu?
Which is the answer to the 2nd Contest's question:
What is the question most frequently asked me, DC, host of this site, about Shunryu Suzuki?
And the actual answer is, as best as we can do here at cuke.com without even bothering to call a native speaker to confirm:
To summarize, I'd say that both syllables of his name are a problem. I've always concentrated on the second one, ryu, because it's so hard to say the Western way. The English "r" is said from the throat and the back of the mouth which makes it awkward to add the yu sound. The Japanese "r" is pronounced from the front of the mouth with the tongue behind the front upper teeth. It makes ryu sound like "dyu" or "jyu" more than how we'd say it which we can't the way we naturally try.
The first syllable though, as Robert Halpern points out below, is also generally mispronounced. I have always let that go because at least people can say it the wrong way. But Bob's right. It's not "shun" as in the English shun but sounds like "shoe + n"
So maybe Shunryu should be said more like "Shoendyu." I often suggest, if the person has no time to quibble, for them to drop the r.
And while we're at it, the way :"Roshi" is pronounced in America overemphasizes the "i" at the end which the Japanese swallow and the "R" is also not the throaty English "R" so it's pronounced more like dROSH."
He couldn't have had a worse given name for the West. Even Japanese find it a weird name. Suzuki is easy to say though. No one cares if we say it the Western way, but if you want to be a little more Japanese about it, just remember that the u's are like the "oo" in food.
Here are prior questions and comments from cuke.com on how to pronounce "Shunryu."
From a 1/5/2000 Reader's Comment by-Mark Shores:
How is "Shunryu" pronounced? I've been saying it something like shun-roo with the accent on "shun." Thanks!
DC - I get that question a lot when people have to introduce me at book signings. I tell them to say "Shunyu" or "Shundyu" with just a touch on the "d." Or, if there's time I may get further into it and say that the Japanese "r" is said from the front of the mouth and not the rear like ours. It's got some "l" and "d" in it and works better in diphthongs like this than the English "r."
[See a prior comment on how to pronounce "Shunryu."]
From 11/06/99 Reader's Comments:
From Charlie Musselwhite [blues singer extraordinaire--see www.charlie-musselwhite.com. …Is Crooked Cucumber available in large print or on tape? My mother is 87 and can't see as well as she used to and I know she'd enjoy Shunryu. (Is that pronounced like: Shun-ur-you ?).
DC - I wrote him back that there is no big print Crooked Cucumber available that I know of. I wonder how that happens? Probably with books that have larger sales. If anyone has any ideas please tell me. ---As for the pronunciation of Shunryu, that is a FAQ, especially when I'm being introduced and the introducer has to say the name of the book. Anyone else who has a better way to say it tell me, but what I say is that the Japanese "r" is not made in the throat and back of the mouth like our r but in the front of the mouth with the tongue on the roof of the mouth as we do in the letter "d." One Japanese friend of mine says that their r has got some of our r, d, and l in it. Since the ryu combination is so tough, I suggest to either drop the r and say "Shunyu" or put a bit of "d" in place of the r as in Shundyu while nudging the r sound in there.--DC
From Robert Halpern: [referring to Charlie Musselwhite's question of 11/06] Do you suppose the pronunciation key for Shunryu might be something like SHOEndYOU or SHOEn-re-YOU or SHOONre-YOU. I suggest those possibilities because I think the first syllable (especially outside of Asian-pronunciation-aware-California) is likely to be incorrectly pronounced as the English word, "shun". [Boy is that true. I do that a lot. Good suggestions.--DC]