Over the years I have heard American and European employees from many companies grumble when hearing Japanese words. This is most apparent during Lean training.
Personally, I feel it is extremely important to use the Japanese names for things like Kanban, Kaizen, etc. In fact, if you are going to speak on the topic I say you also need to make every effort to learn how to pronounce these words properly.
I remember asking Jon Miller how to pronounce Heijunka the right way since I had heard so many people butcher it. For the record, Jon tells me it is “Hey-Joon-Kah” instead of the “High-Junk-ah” as so many Americans say.
A huge part of Lean is respecting people. I am of the school that says we need to respect the Japanese for the gift they gave the world by using Japanese words and even attempting to say them right.
If you are one of those who hates using Japanese words my advice is to get over it. And as your penance I ask you say 10 Heijunka’s as you reflect on your sinful ways.
Until next time, I wish you all the best on your journey towards continuous improvement.