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mixing plain and polite speech

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mixing plain and polite speech

Postby natsukashii » Sat 07.22.2006 7:18 pm

I have a question about mixing plain and formal verb conjugations within the context of the same piece of writing. I'm wondering if it is ok, or bad grammar, or dependant on the situation. (At first thought it reminds me of switching between first and third person or past and present in English). Here is the example in question which is an excerpt from a poem I wrote a few years back. I'm trying to clean up the Japanese as much as I can and I want to know if the second line seems out of place. Thanks!

私は未知流離する
見えなく成ります
目が見えるようになった

watashi wa michi sasuraisuru
mienaku narimasu
me ga mieru you ni natta
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RE: mixing plain and polite speech

Postby keatonatron » Sat 07.22.2006 9:59 pm

natsukashii wrote:
I have a question about mixing plain and formal verb conjugations within the context of the same piece of writing. I'm wondering if it is ok, or bad grammar, or dependant on the situation.


Depends on the situation. If you want to show respect to someone (usually because they are older) but feel you have a close relationship with them, mixing polite and informal achieves that goal.

With poems, anything goes. No one, not even Japanese people, can tell you if your poem is correct or not. They can only tell you if it's good or not :D
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RE: mixing plain and polite speech

Postby Ezrach » Sun 07.23.2006 6:05 am

You can only mix plain form and formal forms if grammar rules specifically call for it within a sentence structure.
As for endings, you don't ever want to alternate between the forms - it's just plain strange. (i.e. one sentence ends with です, the next ends with だ. Or, the same for dictionary form versus ます form. 敬語は敬語だ。タメ口はタメ口だ。)
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RE: mixing plain and polite speech

Postby paul_b » Sun 07.23.2006 6:22 am

Victory Manual wrote:
You can only mix plain form and formal forms if grammar rules specifically call for it within a sentence structure.

That's not quite true. several of my Japanese pen-friends used to write to me in informal (plain) form as a rule but would drift into polite (masu) form for a few sentences according to the subject matter. IIRC, sometimes when correcting my Japanese or apologising for something. In other words when they felt the need to be extra sensitive.

I wouldn't try doing it myself though I don't have a good enough feel for it. It can be quite risky because by using polite form when you usually use plain you can sound as if you've been offended or are angry.
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RE: mixing plain and polite speech

Postby keatonatron » Sun 07.23.2006 7:07 am

"今から、コンビにに行くよ"
"分かった。私はここで待つ。"
"じゃあ、行ってきます。"

Like Paul said, my girlfriend will sometimes use the polite form when she wants to sound 'lighter', like when she's being an inconvenience:

*in the middle of shopping*
"あの、トイレに行きたいですけど..."
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RE: mixing plain and polite speech

Postby tanuki » Sun 07.23.2006 9:32 am

僕の下手な日本語を直してください。
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RE: mixing plain and polite speech

Postby natsukashii » Sun 07.23.2006 1:31 pm

Thanks, this was a great help. In this particular context it looks like I'm ok. I just wanted to have to fall back on the "I can do whatever I want in the poem" excuse as little as possible ;) Thanks everyone!
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RE: mixing plain and polite speech

Postby shin1ro » Tue 07.25.2006 12:12 pm

I agree Paul and keatonatron.

Even if you're in an poem, I'd suggest you to try to keep a single style in one document. It's a basic rule. When we Japanese people write Japanese language, we always need *much* power to keep our document in one style. ...Probably much more than you may think - yes, we tend to make a mistake easily - です・ます vs だ・である especially in speaking. -- Yeah, I admit I sometimes mistakenly use タメぐち and offend someone... B)
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