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'koitsu wa?'

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RE: 'koitsu wa?'

Postby mandolin » Wed 06.22.2005 1:31 am

Humble_Kendoka wrote:
[Well, English has this idea of "levels of politeness" too. For instance:

Yes, sir.
Yes.
Yeah.
Yup.
Word.

I definitely wouldn't want to walk into a meeting with a board of directors and use "Yup." And certainly not, "Word, my brothers." :)


Best analogy ever!
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RE: 'koitsu wa?'

Postby amiyumi » Wed 06.22.2005 4:48 am

yes, sir, if used by young people where i live is sometimes rude to old people as it is very old and usually when we say is we are being smart a**ed;)
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RE: 'koitsu wa?'

Postby mandolin » Wed 06.22.2005 2:49 pm

amiyumi wrote:
yes, sir, if used by young people where i live is sometimes rude to old people as it is very old and usually when we say is we are being smart a**ed;)


Someone acting like a smartass is called context. 'Yes, sir' is a polite term none-the-less.

The word mother isn't inherently smartassed, either, but you can make it so with inflection. IE "Sure, I'll get right to that, moTHER..." (probably followed by an eyeroll) Try not to confuse context with usage, especially with english language.
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RE: 'koitsu wa?'

Postby InsanityRanch » Wed 06.22.2005 5:35 pm

I've been having this discussion with a couple of Japanese people (one on the chat board of this site and my teacher.) The conclusion we reached is that Japanese grammar requires a person to choose first- and second- person pronouns based on the relationship between the speakers. Choosing incorrectly -- or deliberately using a pronoun from another context -- makes you appear either rude or prissy.

Foreigners (or at least Western foreigners) have trouble with this for several reasons. First, we have no such grammatical features. (To indicate politeness in English, we generally either use titles such as "sir" or use more indirect verbs such as "would you please ~~" instead of "please ~~".) Some languages do maintain a "thou / you" distinction, but this is still a simpler choice than Japanese!

Second, we haven't grown up with the cultural context to perceive all the different nuances of interpersonal relationships in Japan. Obviously, we understand talking differently to friends than to the boss, but there are a lot of differences (particularly ingroup / outgroup differences) that we don't really perceive well.

And finally, Americans at least have a cultural bias against being very deferential.

So it's a tough question. And this is one time I'm glad to be female -- watashi is soooooo easy! <g>

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