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Speaking to Tenchou/Senpai at part-time job?

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Speaking to Tenchou/Senpai at part-time job?

Postby emmytofu » Sat 09.12.2015 2:00 pm

Hi there! This is kind of a grammar/cultural question that I'd really love some advice with!

I recently started working at a Japanese restaurant in my city, and many of the staff are Japanese or speak Japanese. I believe one of the qualities that got me hired is my Japanese studies- I have been out of practice for a while now but I'm a beginner at about an N4 level. However, I think I've disappointed my Japanese boss because so far I've been far too nervous to break out any Japanese!

I'm mostly anxious about making sure my speech is respectful enough when speaking with the other employees. I'm the newest hire and also the youngest, so I want to make sure my keigo isn't deplorable. I've never been to Japan and I've been out of a formal Japanese class for a while so my immersion has been lacking and so I'm relying on self-study at the moment!

Can anyone help me with what titles to use when addressing my fellow employees? I have two 'managers' that own the store- a Japanese man and his wife (who doesn't speak Japanese). I believe the restaurant is actually really owned by the woman. c: Can I refer to them both as '店長'? Or perhaps the woman with her name + さん, as I think I heard another employee refer to her that way as she doesn't speak Japanese and -san is easily understood.

Also, there are the chefs. These men (about half speak Japanese as well) have been working there for many many years and are also much older than myself. What is an appropriate way to refer to them? Is there a title for chefs, or a superior higher than 先輩? I'm actually really intimidated by these guys since they're very surly and I'm not too sure if they're very fond of this new 白人 employee, so I want to make sure to be very respectful!

And for general purposes, what type of speech is polite enough? I'm still rather a beginner, and although I'm technically at a level past Genki I, I'm going through it from the start to refresh my skills after being out of class for a while. Is the polite form taught in most intro materials {~です、~てください、~ます) polite enough? I assume as a gaijin they will understand my skill level and give me some leeway, but I am very excited to have this job opportunity and want to make a good impression as I improve. My manager bid me a さようなら a few nights ago and I got about halfway through a さようなら reply before I stopped myself and choked out a しつれいします instead, as I remember we never replied to our teacher with sayounara but shitsurei shimasu instead as it was more polite.

Can anyone give me some specific advice? Thanks in advance!
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Re: Speaking to Tenchou/Senpai at part-time job?

Postby bunalz3 » Mon 10.05.2015 7:02 am

emmytofu wrote:I'm mostly anxious about making sure my speech is respectful enough when speaking with the other employees. I'm the newest hire and also the youngest, so I want to make sure my keigo isn't deplorable. I've never been to Japan and I've been out of a formal Japanese class for a while so my immersion has been lacking and so I'm relying on self-study at the moment! [...] And for general purposes, what type of speech is polite enough? I'm still rather a beginner, and although I'm technically at a level past Genki I, I'm going through it from the start to refresh my skills after being out of class for a while.


I'd stick with the ます-form (です as the copula), if you're just starting out (or not). I don't think being creative with your sentences is any important (though, I often do that in class) than the communication itself.

Is the polite form taught in most intro materials {~です、~てください、~ます) polite enough?

Yes, I'd say so. I've talked about this with my 先生 before, so don't worry too much about it. It's more than enough for everyday working needs.

Can anyone help me with what titles to use when addressing my fellow employees? I have two 'managers' that own the store- a Japanese man and his wife (who doesn't speak Japanese). Can I refer to them both as '店長'? Or perhaps the woman with her name + さん, as I think I heard another employee refer to her that way as she doesn't speak Japanese and -san is easily understood.

店長 works. If the others [your colleagues; not superiors or their family] address him/her using names, then you may also do that (with the -さん, and preferably their surnames and not personal names) if you wish.

Also, there are the chefs. [...] What is an appropriate way to refer to them?

Like before, you may just address them like so: Surname+さん.

My manager bid me a さようなら a few nights ago and I got about halfway through a さようなら reply before I stopped myself and choked out a しつれいします instead, as I remember we never replied to our teacher with sayounara but shitsurei shimasu instead as it was more polite.

しつれいします is usually used by the bidder (since it is regarded as rude to leave ahead of your superiors; hence, the expression's usage), in this case, if you're the one leaving. However, if you're retiring, then something like 色々お世話になりました will do the job. If your boss is sending you off, then a 'thank you' (plus the previous line) is sufficient. If both are leaving, then a bow should do it (technically, you don't "reply" to a さようなら).


If you check the internet on this subject, there will be more variants to the lines I've stated above. Remember: there is no need to be excessive on your politeness.
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