View topic - suimasen
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It literally means 'I was rude'
It's usually said when leaving the office of a superior, or when you leave someone's house. (as well as in normal conversation)
Ippatsu // Japanesetesting.com
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- Location: Gifu, Japan
- Native language: (poor) English
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At the office where Mr. Lerner works, a reception was held yesterday afternoon in honor of an important visitor. Mr. Lerner was then asked to give a short speech in Japanese. Since everybody looked very formal , he became rather nervous and made a mistake in pronouncing the guest's name, so he hurriedly apologized, saying
Many of the people there laughed. This helped the people relax, although Mr. Lerner lost some confidence in his Japanese..
Later Mr. Takkada said that they had laughed because Gomennassai sounds feminine: Ms. Yoshida said that it was because the expression sounds childless.
Mr. Lerner should have said
(literally, I was rude.)
Instead of Gomennassai.Gomennassai is one of those expressions that are used mostly at home between family members, while Shitsuree-shimashita is used in social situations. Little children usually apologize to their parents or teachers by saying Gomennassai, but Shitsuree-shimashita is not usually used between family members. (Sumimasen is also used in apology . It is less formal than Shitsuree-shimashita and its used both inside and outside of one's home, by adults or older boys and girls; if a child said Sumimasen to his parents it would sound rather strange.
Outside of the home, Gomennassai is used mainly in family like situations. Most often it is used by children; among adults, it is often used in informal conversation. For instance, a child will say it to a stranger whose foot he has stepped on by mistake in the train. An elderly person may say it to a younger person even when working at the office unless he has to be formal.
The distinction between formal or social expressions such as Shitsuree-shimashita and familiars expressions such as Gomennassai seems to becoming looser. Some people have start using familiar expressions, either intentionally or unintentionally, in formal or social situations. But still it is important to choose appropriate expressions according to the situation if you want to be a really good speaker of Japanese."
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