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Politeness levels

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RE: Politeness levels

Postby suhui » Thu 03.22.2007 11:39 am

How about "ございます"? Would they misunderstand us as being sarcastic? Can I speak to my sensei using ございます?

What does よろしくお願いいたします means? Is it more polite in a customer perspective?
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RE: Politeness levels

Postby Mukade » Thu 03.22.2007 12:29 pm

keatonatron wrote:
I like using んです as a shortcut to weasel out of an informal statement.

If you forget to end the sentence formally, just add んです and *BAM* you can save yourself at the last second.


YES!

I use this strategy at least once a day.... :p
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RE: Politeness levels

Postby PsychoSP » Thu 03.22.2007 12:47 pm

Me too!

I think Josh's analysis is spot on in general, but I'd be careful about learning too much about polite speech from TV. Even if it's a drama set in present-day Tokyo, you really can't trust the characters to always speak the way a "real Japanese person" would. And for any other show... :o

For instance, if it's not set in Tokyo, chances are there will be dialect issues. If it's set in Feudal Japan, modern rules for politeness will be completely ignored. And if it's not a drama (but rather a comedy/variety show, anime, or sitcom) you might as well walk into a juvenile detention center and ask the kids there to teach you about situational 丁寧語。
Last edited by PsychoSP on Thu 03.22.2007 1:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Politeness levels

Postby Shirasagi » Thu 03.22.2007 1:18 pm

PsychoSP wrote:
Me too!

I think Josh's analysis is spot on in general, but I'd be careful about learning too much about polite speech from TV. Even if it's a drama set in present-day Tokyo, you really can't trust the characters to always speak the way a "real Japanese person" would. And for any other show... :o


I would go further and say that the Japanese in dramas (which was what I was talking about) is absolutely not everyday Japanese. Which is why I recommended it. As I said, though, not as a situational usage guide. And I'll note that I'm of course talking about dramas set in modern day Japan. I'd hardly suggest trying to learn politeness levels from the latest 大河ドラマ.

In dramas, the Japanese of female characters is highly feminized; one will hear a lot more feminine わ and かしら and the like than one will in real life. Likewise, the speech of male characters is highly masculinized. Japanese characters are rarely drawn as real life people. More typically they are broadly drawn and represent basic character types. And thus their Japanese is not as variable as a real Japanese person's; it's especially tailored to help represent their character. A character who says nothing but 僕, or nothing but 俺, does so because that says something about his character. Thus, it can be helpful to get a feel for what kind of image you put across when you use different kinds of Japanese.

Of course it must be taken with a grain or two of お塩, and certainly it's no substitute for observation of real-live Japanese people using Japanese in a variety of situations.
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RE: Politeness levels

Postby PsychoSP » Thu 03.22.2007 1:41 pm

Shirasagi wrote:
Of course it must be taken with a grain or two of お塩, and certainly it's no substitute for observation of real-live Japanese people using Japanese in a variety of situations.

That's really the point I was trying to get across. I agree that J-dramas are a good way to pick up certain patterns and nuances. Heck, I agree with everything you said. But I wanted to add a warning for beginners, who often have misconceptions like "If they said it on TV, it must be OK for me to say!"

This idea of picking up on character archetypes is part of why I (and possibly Chris as well) don't use 「おれ」. It's just not me. While there may be a few situations where it's socially acceptable, I don't think it's ever required, or even necessarily preferable. My close, personal, age-equivalent Japanese friends never use it with me, so I don't use it with them.

Of course, I never use "ain't" in casual conversation either. I wonder how many Americans do.
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RE: Politeness levels

Postby PlaceboZA » Fri 03.23.2007 9:31 am

Er. I don't have access to japanese dramas. What about particular anime series?
Does anyone have a suggestion of an anime that might be a good way to pick up the feel for politeness levels?

Maison Ikkoku comes to mind, but I haven't watched it. It's kinda drama-ry I think.
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RE: Politeness levels

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Fri 03.23.2007 10:03 am

Anime and dramas are VERY BAD for learning politeness levels. VERY VERY VERY BAD. In order for them to be of use you would already have to know how to separate what's real from what's TV exaggeration, and if you can do that, you don't need them in the first place.

Also, mods, can we please get animations banned from avatars and sigs?
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RE: Politeness levels

Postby two_heads_talking » Fri 03.23.2007 10:26 am

I have to agree.. learning politeness from manga or anime or dramas is like learning how to walk from watching motocross.. it might happen, but it won't be pretty
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RE: Politeness levels

Postby keatonatron » Fri 03.23.2007 10:39 am

PlaceboZA wrote:
What about particular anime series?


That'd be like a Japanese person learning English from Teletubbies.
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RE: Politeness levels

Postby two_heads_talking » Fri 03.23.2007 11:22 am

ok, keatonatron, you made me spit my rootbeer on the computer.. lol..
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RE: Politeness levels

Postby caroline » Fri 03.23.2007 11:29 am

I can't help saying keat did the same for me (though not rootbeer....) :D.
So, for politeness levels, you'd better pray you come across enough situations just to get a rough idea, PlaceboZA, and then, roll. :)
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RE: Politeness levels

Postby Oracle » Fri 03.23.2007 11:38 am

..coffee on mine!
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RE: Politeness levels

Postby Shirasagi » Fri 03.23.2007 2:26 pm

Well, I'll go against the grain on this one. I'm certainly not advocating adopting drama/anime characters as models for Japanese, but I think properly approached they are useful for creating frames of reference. I dunno; mileage varies. I don't have any politeness level issues, in so far as knowing when to use what. I have a vacuum-cleaner approach. Everything gets sucked in. Real life, of course, but all kinds of media, as well. Everything has some value. Wide exposure to media, IMO, is important for finding that ephemeral "sense" of when to use what in Japanese. Yes, you have to be a certain level to use the information discriminatingly. I'm not suggesting a bunch of Japanese 101 students go out and start watching a bunch of dramas to learn keigo. But if you are a student who has some operational facility in the language, but just can't seem to get a firm handle on politeness levels (which seemed to describe the majority of folk in this thread), I think properly channeled media exposure, in addition to a lot of real life observation and experience, can help develop that sense I mentioned earlier.
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RE: Politeness levels

Postby skrhgh3b » Fri 03.23.2007 5:46 pm

I've had some similar experiences, but I try not to sweat the whole politeness level thing too much. I think the younger generation is generally less comfortable with 'polite' Japanese, and as long as you're speaking to someone who's more or less a peer in an informal setting, using 'informal' Japanese can be a welcome sign of friendliness.
For example, last summer I met a Japanese girl at my university, and since it was our first conversation, and she was also a graduate student and a couple of years older than me, I naturally used the normal 'masu/desu' politeness level in my otherwise broken Japanese, and it wasn't too long before she stopped me and asked me to speak casually because I was being too polite. At the time, it really surprised me, but not so much anymore.
On the other hand, I have a very close Japanese friend, and she seemingly switches arbitrarily back and forth between 'informal' and 'polite' Japanese, even within the same conversation. It's not so much a matter of any distance between us, but it was a little disorienting for a while. I think it's just a tendency of some Japanese women to want to sound a little more 'feminine' by speaking in some twilight zone between the two politeness levels.
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RE: Politeness levels

Postby PlaceboZA » Sun 03.25.2007 9:45 am

I suspected as much (about anime) which is why I asked about 'perhaps' a particular series that isn't as fantastical. Hence drama.
I guess it's a long shot.
Although I think that the example of teletubbies is a bit unfair. I would never liken Elfen Lied to a 'japanese teletubbies'. That's quite an insult to both the japanese culture and the series, IMO.

Is it my signature that is offensive by the way? And why? The download size?
Talking about me in the third person to the mods is pretty rude. Which is ironic in this thread.
You could have just asked me directly, for pete's sake.
Last edited by PlaceboZA on Sun 03.25.2007 9:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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