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still confused about pronouns

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still confused about pronouns

Postby yankumi » Fri 08.26.2005 10:37 am

Most websites and textbooks I have looked at that introduce Japanese state that あんた is the most neutral pronoun to use for "you" if you don't know the status of the other person. However, I have seen where it is pointed out that you really wouldn't use あなた in conversation, as it actually implies a relationship between the speaker and receiver, and can even be used to mean "darling". Another poster here pointed out that if you know the person's name, you don't use pronouns when speaking to them, which seems a good rule of thumb. However, I would just like to clarify--do you use the person's name instead of a pronoun, or do you just omit the subject altogether? For example, if Kim asks me げんきですか and I reply げんきです how would I then inquire as to how she is doing without use of a pronoun? Also, with the possessive pronoun's, if I know the person's name, how would I properly say something like それはあんたのねこですか 

Thank you!
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yankumi
 
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RE: still confused about pronouns

Postby Justin » Fri 08.26.2005 2:46 pm

Generally speaking, it’s best to try and avoid any use of “you” type words if you can. With absolute strangers you could use あなた to address them, when it comes to anyone you actually know though, it’s generally a no-no to use “you” as you should know their name.

あなた can also carry a “darling” type meaning like you said, don’t really hear it all that much, but it’s defiantly there. Being used like that あなた can imply a relationship between the speaker and receiver, however 99% of the time it caries no such relationship as you generally only use such words when you have absolutely no connection with said person.

As for just omitting the subject all together, there are defiantly times where that's not a problem, just as long as everything is still completely understandable without specifying who. Unlike English, with Japanese you don’t have to continuously restate the subject, but you still have to make sure that there’s no confusion about what you’re trying to talk about. Let’s take a look at those few sentences you have real quick…

Aさん:お元気(げんき)ですか。
A: How’s it going?

Bさん:元気ですよ。A さんは?
B: Going well, and you?

You could reply back to Aさん with お元気ですか again if you really wanted to avoid using a pronoun there, does sound a little odd, but it would work. When you use A さんは? it’s got that “and you?” type of feeling, so times like this I think that really is the best and simplest way to re-ask a certain question, no need to really recite the whole thing if you don’t need to.

For your last question there, all you would need to do is just replace あなた with said person’s name, and there ya go, as simple as that.

Oh, and one last little thing, あなた and あんた carry a bit different intonation, so just be careful to try and avoid あんた if you can, as it carries a bit more of a derogatory tone to it. If you’re looking for something even more polite, you could use something like そちら or even そちらさま if you want to be really polite. Just remember though, if you know the persons name, you should really try and use it rather than using “you” words.

Talking about this stuff reminds me of when one of my classmates at school when I was in Japan had gone to some orientation at a four year college and meant to say お名前は and she accidentally said お前は. お前(まえ)is one of the more derogatory ways of saying you, so I’m sure she was pretty embarrassed when that accidentally slipped out rather than asking for a name.
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RE: still confused about pronouns

Postby yankumi » Fri 08.26.2005 3:25 pm

thank you! and the use of あんた was merely an unfortunate typo, but I appreciate you pointing it out, as I was not aware that it actually was a word, and how it was used.
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