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letter/email writing

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letter/email writing

Postby queshaw » Tue 10.02.2007 2:11 am

In this place here:

http://japanese.about.com/library/weekly/aa101401a.htm

and the article it cites:

http://www.humanjapanese.com/appendix/letters.htm

it refers to some conventions for letter writing. The comment thing seems to be broken on that web site, and I'm sure there are people who write letters/emails in Japanese to Japanese people here, so I'm asking here.

The first article says formal letters open with Haikei ___ (them) and end with Keigu ___ (you). The second article says formal letters start with "Someone-sama he"/"...sensei he".

So, which is it? How formal is that? Does it apply to email, e.g. writing a first email to a teacher that you haven't met before?

It also refers to using Shin'ai naru someone, as an equivelent of 'Dear someone", in less formal letters. How informal?

If you say konbonwa or ohiyo or konnichiwa at different times of the day, do you use any of those phrases in email or forum postings or on a web page?

Also, this business about starting with an ice breaker, i.e. talking about the weather before getting down to business, if this protocol applies to email, would you usually do that in a reply or only on the initial email?
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RE: letter/email writing

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Tue 10.02.2007 1:02 pm

Those are all features of a relatively formal letter. In e-mail you will not see haikei or keigu, and shin'ai naru X is an archaic phrase that is also unlikely to be used.
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RE: letter/email writing

Postby queshaw » Tue 10.02.2007 1:25 pm

Hrmph. I guess what I really want to know is:

What does one write at the start of an email and at the end of an email to someone you don't know? How about someone you know but are not a close friend with?

How do you write a greeting in writing on a web page or somewhere where you don't know what time it is that the person is reading it?

Is it impolite to get down to business right away in email, as the articles claim it is in letters. Does that apply to replying to emails as well? In other words, would you reply something like: the weather is lovely today, it rained earlier now the sun is coming out. by the way the reason why I'm replying to your email is to say I already sent a check to you the other day. if you haven't received it yet let me know and I'll look int it.
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RE: letter/email writing

Postby keatonatron » Tue 10.02.2007 8:51 pm

I usually start with just their name followed by a comma (and line return), then open with some sort of greeting. Something like "kono aida no me-ru, arigatou gozaimashita" or "kinou ha otsukaresama deshita" if I had heard from or seen them recently. I often end with a simple "yoroshiku onegaishimasu" and/or "go-henji wo omachi shite orimasu" followed by another line return and my name.
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RE: letter/email writing

Postby tanuki » Tue 10.02.2007 8:55 pm

Followed by a comma? Ew.
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RE: letter/email writing

Postby coco » Tue 10.02.2007 9:21 pm

Do you have a specific assumption about readers of your e-mail(web page?) which you are going to write in Japanese?
An important thing would be a purpose of writing.

If you tell us more details about your situation or your questions, you might get more concrete comments.
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RE: letter/email writing

Postby queshaw » Wed 10.03.2007 1:42 am

The original expectation was that I would be writing to a teacher. I signed up for an online Japanese class this week (http://www.as.ua.edu/nihongo/index.html). I wanted to know how to write an introductory email to my teacher in an appropriate manner, as if I were writing to a Japanese instructor (the teacher is actually American).

I then found the articles I cited above, so I'm interested in general.

I searched here too, but too bad I didn't find the thread you link to in your signature coco. My question has already been asked here apparently.

I'm still not sure what greeting is appropriate for a web page, for example. On the Nihongo Web web page it says "Konbon wa". Wouldn't that be the wrong greeting if someone is reading the web page in the morning?

Also, I understand the idea of talking about something like the weather, before getting down to business. But, when you reply, is it thought of as abrupt if you immediately start by answering the original question, without preliminary remarks?

I expect I can only learn some of this from experience.

In my introductory letter I used:

Smithせんせいへ

and ended with

敬語Jones

I asked in the letter about email protocol, but the teacher didn't give an elaborate answer other than to tell me that Keigo is too formal.

I'll ask the teacher more about it when I get a chance.
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RE: letter/email writing

Postby hungryhotei » Wed 10.03.2007 2:45 am

queshaw wrote:

敬語Jones



Are you sure you don't mean 敬 here?

How would you have ended the email if you were writing in English?
Last edited by hungryhotei on Wed 10.03.2007 2:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: letter/email writing

Postby queshaw » Wed 10.03.2007 3:49 am

Oops, right. I don't really know the Kanji for that word.

In English writing to an American college instructor who's teaching an online course, I would end with my first name only, no "Sincerely" or any such thing, because my experience is that teachers tend to make an effort to have a familiar relationship with their students.

I figure there isn't really a formula to all this. In fact it's impolite to follow a politeness formula. Trying to judge what makes up my American social conventions is probably more difficult for me than for someone who's not American in some ways, because a lot of my interaction is automatic rather than intentional. So, I can imagine it might be difficult for a Japanese person to tell me what
is conventional in the way they write letters, since it's probably not a formula that they are following either.
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RE: letter/email writing

Postby keatonatron » Wed 10.03.2007 7:58 am

tanuki wrote:
Followed by a comma? Ew.


Tanuki,
Why not?
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RE: letter/email writing

Postby coco » Wed 10.03.2007 10:19 am

I understand you have many wonders to writing ( semi-formal style) e-mail in Japanese. When we began to use a computer network, we were also puzzled by writing semi-formal e-mails.

queshaw wrote:
I'm still not sure what greeting is appropriate for a web page, for example. On the Nihongo Web web page it says "Konbon wa". Wouldn't that be the wrong greeting if someone is reading the web page in the morning?

:D Yes, I feel the same thing. I suppose the author updated this page just at night.
(and こんばんは looks like more personal greetings rather than business-like greetings to me.)

However, I don't think you need to care much about time-lag of greetings. Because even if you and the reader lived in the same time zone, nobody knows when he/she reads your e-mail or web site.

I asked in the letter about email protocol, but the teacher didn't give an elaborate answer other than to tell me that Keigo is too formal.

I'll ask the teacher more about it when I get a chance.


As other members says, business ( or business-like) e-mail doesn't need seasonal greetings or 拝啓/敬具. It is supposed that working people prefer brief and clear e-mails. Generally です/ます form is required though, using too much honorific words might not be welcomed.

Please imagine yourself trying to make a phone call to someone working for a client company (but you have not talked with him/her before). I guess the politeness level for writing e-mail to someone, whom you don't know, would be almost the same as its situation. You can write an e-mail just as you speak to that person, or as if you leave a message to his/her answering machine. ( In a formal letter, we often use some lyrical phrases, mostly stylized- phrases, instead of everyday words.)

I think this post would be a good example to figure out how to write a self-introduction in e-mail to someone whom you've neither written nor spoken before.

Beginning with 「 はじめまして。Your nameと垂オます。」( 「Your name です」is also okay. It isn't impolite.)
Ending with 「(今後とも/それでは) よろしくお願いします。」


Also, I understand the idea of talking about something like the weather, before getting down to business. But, when you reply, is it thought of as abrupt if you immediately start by answering the original question, without preliminary remarks?


you might want to put a phrase before answering the question. like
ご返信、ありがとうございます。
ご連絡いただき、ありがとうござい[ます/ました]。
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(Thanks for your patience to read my poor English.)
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RE: letter/email writing

Postby tanuki » Wed 10.03.2007 11:17 am

keatonatron wrote:
tanuki wrote:
Followed by a comma? Ew.


Tanuki,
Why not?


Keatonatron.
Periods are more sophisticated. Really. Trust me.
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RE: letter/email writing

Postby keatonatron » Wed 10.03.2007 11:11 pm

tanuki wrote:
Keatonatron.


That is not a sentence. :@
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RE: letter/email writing

Postby queshaw » Wed 10.03.2007 11:41 pm

ありがとうごさいます。

coco wrote:
Please imagine yourself trying to make a phone call to someone working for a client company (but you have not talked with him/her before). I guess the politeness level for writing e-mail to someone, whom you don't know, would be almost the same as its situation.


That makes sense. Email is more like a phone call than a letter, in some ways.

coco wrote:
I think this post would be a good example to figure out how to write a self-introduction in e-mail to someone whom you've neither written nor spoken before.


I understand very little of that, but it looks interesting. I understand something roughly like:

"forum" no mina san [ten] hajimemashite .... [maru]

> The text here <

Yo roshiku onegai shimasu.

coco wrote:
Beginning with 「 はじめまして。Your nameと垂オます。」( 「Your name です」is also okay. It isn't impolite.)
Ending with 「(今後とも/それでは) よろしくお願いします。」


I don't understand: "...と垂オ". Is it like 「もしもし」? Your name "with hello"?
And: "今後とも". "Now then friend?"

coco wrote:
you might want to put a phrase before answering the question. like
ご返信、ありがとうございます。
ご連絡いただき、ありがとうござい[ます/ました]。


I'm unable to decipher the Kanji so far. But, this is helpful. Thank you.
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RE: letter/email writing

Postby saraLynne » Thu 10.04.2007 4:22 am

queshaw wrote:

I don't understand: "...と垂オ". Is it like 「もしもし」? Your name "with hello"?
And: "今後とも". "Now then friend?"

coco wrote:
you might want to put a phrase before answering the question. like
ご返信、ありがとうございます。
ご連絡いただき、ありがとうござい[ます/ました]。


I'm unable to decipher the Kanji so far. But, this is helpful. Thank you.


You might want to consider getting Firefox internet browser with the Rikaichan plugin. It's a time saver. If that's not an option, at least consider running new things through Jim Breen's WWWJDIC.

This will help you out tremendously, as all of the above would be at your fingertips!

垂キ is the dictionary form of what you see above, 垂オます
It means "to be called" so you are saying "I am called [name]"

返信 - へんしん - reply. The ご before it is an honorific.
連絡 - れんらく - communication (in this context) 連絡いただき- the communication I recieved
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