Virtually polite?

Japanese, general discussion on the language
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Virtually polite?

Post by tanuki » Mon 01.30.2006 9:02 pm


How are you doing? So, I have this little question. Let's say I meet a new Japanese penpal on the web who is my age, and I want to write something to her in Japanese. How polite should I be?

- Which suffix should I use for her name? 〜さん、〜ちゃん...
- If I wanted to say "you" (I know it's not as usual as in English), should I use her name or あなた、君...
- Should I use 〜ます、です, etc. or should I use plain forms. だ...

And why not kill two birds with a stone: would it be the same if I was writing to a male?

Thanks a lot in advance!

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RE: Virtually polite?

Post by mandolin » Mon 01.30.2006 9:14 pm

I'd use all the politeness you can come up with. And even in mostly familiar speech, using Name-san is best. Use masu/desu.

Let the other person dictate the level of formality. If they think you've crossed over into more friendly terms, they'll probably ask you why you're still being formal. Or if they start using plain forms, just follow along. :)

It's best to err on the side of politeness than rudeness. Every person's different, she (or he) might just tell you right from the start "you don't have to be so polite".


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RE: Virtually polite?

Post by hamsterfreak4evr » Mon 01.30.2006 9:14 pm

you might want to be somewhat polite the first time you chat, and once you get to know him/her better, you can get more casual.

im not sure though, im just guessing that right :)

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RE: Virtually polite?

Post by AJBryant » Mon 01.30.2006 9:51 pm

On -san -chan (etc.):

Always start with -san until they get close enough (you'll know) to move to -chan.

It has all sorts of weird effects. I used to live at a particular store in Japan that sold replica suits of armour -- the owner and manager were friends of mine. But I was always "Tony-san" to them. One time the manager was on the phone with the company president and planning a lunch meeting, and said to him that "uchi no Tony-chan mo kuru yo."

I *loved* that. "Uchi no Tony-chan."

I was family.


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