This post originally appeared on my AikiWeb blog…
One big surprise I had on arriving in Kyoto was realizing I had been pronouncing Payet-sensei’s name incorrectly for years.
As I related, I had unexpectedly communicated with him when Aikido Shugyo was published. So I said his name in my head several times: “jahk pay-it”
At some point soon after arriving in Kyoto, I was speaking with Yannick and he said something about some stranger I hadn’t met named “pai-eh”. Who was this “pai-eh”?
My first thought was actually, ah, he must mean ‘pay-it’-sensei, but his Quebecois accent is throwing me off...
Then he said it again.
Then I thought about the spelling and it dawned on me: I’ve had the pronunciation wrong all these years!!
The irony is that I lived most of my life only an hour outside Montreal, Quebec, the second-largest French-speaking city in the world. And I took French for 2 years in junior high school.
An odd aspect of this realization is that sensei transformed into a different person once I knew how to say his name correctly. I had developed a strong impression of his personality just on the basis of his few communications with me. Rather silly. Once I realized my pronunciation was wrong, I realized I really knew nothing about him. So, really, this was an auspicious mistake on my part, since my mistaken way of thinking may have led me to unwarranted liberties in speaking with him in person.