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Softener ちょっと

Oni's picture
Many years ago I found an example in a book of how Japanese can be direct or politely indirect. For example you can say:

1) こい! koi

or

2) あのう、すみません、たいへん恐れいれますが、ちょっとこちらへいらっしゃってくださいませんでしょうか?

both mean 'come here' but #2 is much more polite being cushioned by many soft, indirect words. One of these words is ちょっと.

ちょっと means 'little' or 'small amount' but it is often used to soften an otherwise painful 'no' or 'your request is impossible; live with it'

ちょっと難しいですが。 
chotto
muzukashi desu ga.
That's a little difficult. (this may be said when the request is impossible)

ちょっと出来ないです。 
chotto
dekinai desu.
It can't be done.

ちょっと分からないです。 
chotto
wakaranai desu.
I'm not really sure.

I have been told the sound 'chotto' is a bad word in Korean. If that is the case, chotto may not be that soft of a word...

 

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lol - politeness

You got to love politeness, it scores you a good reputation and first impressions as well as quadrupling the sentence length.

な!時?
Hey! What's the time?

あの、すみません。もしあなたは時を思ったら私に話せますか?ありがとうございます。失礼します。
Um, Excuse me. If you know the time could you tell me? Thank you very much, Please excuse my absence now.

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