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What is the correct or preferred way to write Isshinryu / Isshin Ryu / Isshin-ryu?

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

First, this is more about grammar and the use of spaces or hyphens, etc., to convey proper meaning when written such as this question as to whether it is proper to write Isshin and Ryu as one word, or separate words or to use the hyphen. 

Just as a example and a start toward understanding the proper way consider using a spell checker in a word document. The Word documents often used have a decent engine to check and suggest but it is not infallible. Then there is the use of a dictionary but since this is a word or term, etc., not a common one used in every day English, used specifically to name a foreign word that makes it a bit more difficult. 

Then you can also use Mnemonics to help your memory eke out a proper way but since the questions was asked and most of us are not writers or even English majors as to education along with many writers and majors also tend to have difficulties in this area that may not work either.

This word or term does not fall under the heading of homonyms and plurals so that won’t work either. Sounding it out fails to give an answer except in English I would make an assumption that the two separate words, Isshin and Ryu, having a usage to describe one thing would best serve, as to its English usage, to be somewhat correct in using “Isshinryu.” This view is debatable to say the least and why this question becomes a bit more difficult to answer.

Then I asked myself what defines a suffix? The dictionary tells us that a suffix follows an element to which it is added such as the “ly” to the word “kind” to make, “Kindly.” It can, in general, be anything added at the end of something, ergo Ryu added to the end of Isshin making “Isshinryu” a bit more correct, maybe. 

Another aspect to suffix as defined in the dictionary is to add (a morpheme) as a suffix to the end of a work where morpheme means, “any of the minimal grammatical units of a language, each constituting a word or meaningful part of a word, that cannot be divided into smaller independent grammatical parts, as the, write, or the -ed of waited.”

This leads me, personally, to consider that Isshinryu is more correct vs. Isshin Ryu or Isshin-ryu. Another way to look at it is to review several determine factors of the actual term from its native forms, i.e., the actual characters/ideograms used in Japan (we won’t go to the Okinawan dialect since Japanese is the official language there as well). 

The characters/ideograms for this term or word or title is, “一心流,” which does not get translated as is from the on-line English-to-Japanese-to-English translation sites but if you separate the first two from the last you get two separate translations. 

一心 means, “one mind; wholeheartedness; one’s whole heart,” and means, “style of; method of; manner of; school (of thought).” When spoken they are pronounced as just one word, i.e. Isshinryu. 

Now, one site that translates the three characters/ideograms (Kanji of 一心流) does provide an English word when translating, i.e., “Isshin-ryu.” Now, as to English I would say the proper way to write the English version of this descriptive word to be “Isshinryu” while as to at least one official translation site translating the kanji as “Isshin-ryu” then I would surmise that these two are proper and interchangeable unless you want to drill down to believing the true correct way would be that translation from the Japanese characters/ideograms (Kanji) into its English form. If that is correct, I would accept this personally, then the one correct way to write it in English is, “Isshin-ryu,” without capitalizing the Ryu part. 

In a nutshell, use, “Isshin-ryu,” as a correct spelling. Now as to the next half of this two-part question, i.e., 

“What is the history on how it is written?”

I would have to defer to those who have a direct connection and experience with the founder who named the system or style of karate, Isshin-ryu. I do suspect that since it was originally written in the Kanji style and that the translation to English by that founder would have been flawed since his command of the English language was very poor and that left any corrections up to the American students who didn’t have or use a command of English to provide a true and correct translation into a proper English form - grammatically speaking. 

I also suspect until this very moment no one has bothered to even ask this question and tended to assume what ever spelling was used by their Sensei was correct while never truly researching the correct way.

Note/Caveat: Remember, I am not an English major with any type of degree or other credentials that would make my answer, correct. I would, if you truly wanted to know for sure, submit the question along with background as to the origins of this word to a grammatical professional. Even then, because of its uniqueness and use they may not have a definitive answer either. 

In the end, what does it matter? What matters is this type of question comes most often from someone who wants to study and learn about every aspect of a discipline and although more of a trivial nature it speaks loudly of the type of effort and diligence this person has along with a very high motivation to learn and that is very good. When a student asks such seemingly trivial question it is easy to not give it its fair consideration because it may seem trivial but the heart of it means something great about that individual so answer it truthfully as possible. Remember, as their knowledge and understanding grow they will begin to differentiate in such questions while growing in depth and breadth in their understanding while creating a mind-state that allows for the distinctions that separate the types of training, practice, studies and applications. It could literally make all the difference to the person asking and create a connection that would take them to a life time of study and practice over someone who might simply quit early on, etc. 

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